Design spotlight: ‘The Good German’

Prod'n designer Messina found exterior shots daunting

For Philip Messina, production designer of the retro B&W WWII-era drama “The Good German,” the most daunting aspect was creating all the exteriors: “We’d done a lot of historical and archival research, and we had tons of footage that originally was going to be a far more integral part of it.” When that changed, Messina had to find an old-fashioned studio solution.

Director Steven Soderbergh gave Messina the choice between the Universal or Warner back lots. “So I went and scouted both, took lots of photos and laid them out like a storyboard, and decided on Universal,” Messina says.

“Shooting black-and-white and going for the ’40s studio style of the film also helped, but we had to plan every last shot, and we shot to the very edge of everything we used. If you’d looked to the right or left of any of those frames, it was obviously the back lot.”

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