How ‘Joy’s’ Production Designer Helped Represent Entrepreneur’s Life

Judy Becker Joy Production Designer
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

David O. Russell wanted the look of  “Joy” to reflect the personal growth of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence, but not the times in which she lived.

To create that aesthetic, production designer Judy Becker — who was recently nominated for an Art Directors Guild award for her work — conjured up a world with an ageless quality. “It starts in the ’60s and goes to the ’90s, but it feels like a timeless fable,” she says. “You know it isn’t ‘now,’ but you don’t know exactly when it is.”

In the film’s early part, Becker established a monochromatic palette that supported Joy’s personal stagnation, using lots of dark woods embellished with faded colors, and blacks and whites. But the visual storytelling changes when Joy visits the color-saturated sets of shopping network QVC, and embarks on a path of self-empowerment.

Snow was also crucial to establishing timelessness, and the crew hoped their Boston locations would be blessed with some powder.

They got more than they bargained when they suddenly had to fight eight-foot drifts.

“We had to remove half the snow,” Becker says, “so Joy could walk to her front door.”

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