Ask production designer Barry Chusid how he managed to create the look of “2012” with a crew so large there were four directors on set, and he’ll answer with a laugh and a question:
“It’s the answer to the old joke, ‘How do you eat an elephant? Chusid says. “The answer is that you eat it one bite at a time — and you take on a project like this one bite at a time, one task at a time, one day at a time.”
Chusid kept everyone at the table by making a lot of concept drawings, doodles and models so the crew had a lot of visual references for the look that was needed for the film. Those key concepts were especially significant when they were tasked with putting together never-before-seen images that contained some references that were familiar to the audience.
“When you’re trying to put together fireballs chasing a Winnebago through Yellowstone National Park, you have to have a strategy that keeps everyone moving in the same direction,” Chusid says. “I plastered the walls with images of what we were trying to do, and had an open-door policy so everyone could come by and look at the pre-visuals whenever they wanted.”