Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Master Class by the production designer Maria Djurkovic

In collaboration with First Films First at the 38th edition of ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, a Master Class was also held by the world renowned production designer Maria Djurkovic, who had so far worked as a production designer on about thirty films, amongst which are the cult films “Billy Elliot”, “The Hours”, “Mamma Mia”, and she also has numerous nominations and prizes at British and European festivals.

During the Master Class, Djurkovic focused on the work with the director Stephen Daldry on the production design of the films “Billy Elliot” and “The Hours”. In terms of creating the set for a film, Djurkovic explained that every detail of the set is part of the “bigger picture”, i.e. it has an impact in defining the characters in the film and it emphasizes the act in the film. In terms of films where multiple historical periods are interwoven, as in “The Hours”, she tends to unite the different periods in one visual aesthetic.

-It is my job to balance out the different periods, and I often use some set tricks to fulfill my intention, because everything is precisely defined in the script and it gives the direction of the visual narration, including all the details planned beforehand – pointed out Djurkovic.

Production design is a dynamic job, added Djurkovic, and aside from the director, the cinematographer, the costume designer, the set designer also has his/her own team which he trusts and which he works on film sets design with. There are usually about 80 to 120 sets (locations) at which a film is shot and they are all being prepared couple of months earlier.

As a specific example, she pointed out her work on the film “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by the director Tomas Alfredson, which they’ve shot in three countries with over 120 film sets.

-Every thought or idea about the creation of a set appears intuitively, and with a goal to give a certain characteristic to the characters in the film, and I love my job and always want to think of something new and I don’t want to repeat myself in every other film – pointed out Djurkovic.