You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

From the drafting board: Rick Heinrichs

'Sleepy Hollow' intent to feel right rather than be right

Either as a set designer, art director or production designer, Rick Heinrichs has been working with director Tim Burton dating back to their student days at CalArts. Heinrichs, whose work on “Sleepy Hollow” earned him a nomination from the Art Directors Guild and the Motion Picture Academy, is currently working on Fox’s “Bedazzled,” helmed by Harold Ramis and starring Brendan Fraser.

Over years Tim and I have developed a pretty good design shorthand understanding of how to approach a lot of things like this. On “Sleepy Hollow,” there’s a lot of the same kind of influences you can see apparent in a lot of the things we’ve done together: expressionism, a very graphic two-dimensional approach to treating three-dimensional space, so that even though it’s a three-dimensional environment, it has a pictorial quality to it. So all of that is background to “Sleepy Hollow.”

The other aspects of “Sleepy Hollow” were its period — how faithful do we remain to the period? — and the answer is not that faithful. It was really 18th century, early republic. It’s all leftover from the colonial period.

Feeling over accuracy

Actually, our intent was for it to feel right rather than necessarily be right. We had scouted in upstate New York, up the Hudson, in historical Tarrytown — there are historical parts of it, the historical Sleepy Hollow is there; Phillipsburg Manor and places like that. They had a wonderful quality to them but it wasn’t quite lending itself to the sort of expressionism that we were going for, which wanted to express the feeling of foreboding.

There are several different kinds of anthropomorphic motifs going on there. One of the feelings of the town was of this fearful gathering, almost like a herd of sheep in a way. We did have a herd of sheep right on the grounds there.

We ended up actually shooting the movie in London, to the northwest in a stage there at Shepperton. The town of Sleepy Hollow was built from the ground up in a preserve between Marlow and Henley to the west of London. So the town was built there, there was an actual hollow. We were trying to get a kind of rigorous design that was softened by the environment to a degree — a kind of a stylized naturalism, if that makes sense. Something that gave us continuity for stage work.

Quite a bit of the film was exteriors onstage, so our goal was to not have an obvious place where you go, “Well that’s outside; that’s inside.” We wanted it all to live in its own sort of netherworld, and part of that was accomplished by the way it was lit.

Continuity of lighting

There was a continuity of the lighting that the d.p., Emmanuel Lubezki achieved, which was just superb. He actually lit the exteriors on location. They had a feeling of a vast set onstage in a certain way at night. One of the advantages of being in England was we were able to get the constant cloudy skies they have there; that worked really well with the look that we had going onstage as well. So we were very concerned from the beginning about continuity between the exteriors onstage and exteriors on location. In fact, there’s a direct cut from the graveyard on the location and the graveyard onstage, and it works pretty well.

More Film

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Reaps $83 Million in China by Early Afternoon of Opening Day

    “Avengers: Endgame” is already breaking records in China, raking in $83 million (RMB558 million) as of 2 p.m. on opening day Wednesday – two days ahead of the U.S. – and putting itself firmly on track to become the biggest Hollywood title ever in the Middle Kingdom. The Marvel finale has already set a new [...]

  • Film Review: ‘The Gift: The Journey

    ‘The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash’

    Very much in the manner of an “unplugged” acoustic album that showcases the musicianship of a major artist without distracting flash and filigree, “The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash” is a tightly focused yet impressively multifaceted documentary that attempts nothing less than to delve past familiar myths and illuminate the soul of its fabled [...]

  • Emily Morgan Cormac Fox Gregoire Debailly

    European Film Promotion Reveals 2019's Producers on the Move

    Twenty of Europe’s up-and-coming producers are going to Cannes with European Film Promotion. The organization unveiled its latest roster of Producers on the Move on Wednesday, a lineup that features France’s Gregoire Debailly, who produced Jean-Bernard Marlin’s “Sheherazade,” which premiered in Critics’ Week in Cannes last year, and Ireland’s Cormac Fox, who produced Sophie Hyde’s [...]

  • Avengers EndGame Trailer

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Marvel claims the top spot in spending with “Avengers: Endgame.” Ads placed for the superhero film had an estimated media value of $6.28 million through Sunday for 927 national ad airings on 39 networks. (Spend figures [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Netflix Can Chill: Academy Rules No Change in Streaming Oscar Eligibility

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not change eligibility rules for the Oscars, despite speculation that streaming companies might see a crackdown on their release practices when pursuing golden trophies. A board of governors meeting on Tuesday voted to maintain the status quo, that any feature-length film can be considered for the [...]

  • Aniara review

    Film Review: 'Aniara'

    Each year brings an example or three of purported “thinking person’s science-fiction” films, a category that pretty much embraces anything not centered on monsters or lightsaber battles. These efforts are often more admirable in theory than result, but “Aniara” — the first film drawn from Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s 1956 cycle of 103 [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    It’s been a long year for Marvel fans since the release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the wait is nearly over. The finale to the Infinity Saga is here, and while most diehard fans will know to avoid them for fear of spoilers, early reviews are mostly positive. Last year’s “Infinity War” took home an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content