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Production designer behind ‘Shutter’

Dante Ferretti helps shape Scorsese's 'Island'

TONGUES WAGGED last August when Paramount said it had made the business decision to postpone the release of “Shutter Island” from October to February.

The delay removed the film from this year’s awards contenders and risked alienating helmer Martin Scorsese and fans whose appetite had been whetted by trailers for the thriller. But it doesn’t seem to have damaged the pic’s box office haul, which came in at just over $40 million domestic on its opening weekend — thanks in part to a dark puzzle of a story underpinned by the unsettling environment created by production designer Dante Ferretti.

Shutter Island” is Ferretti’s seventh film with Scorsese; others include “Kundun” and “Gangs of New York” and “Aviator.” “We’re on the same wavelength,” Ferretti says. “Martin speaks a lot at the beginning. I listen. Then I make my suggestions, too.”

The Dennis Lehane novel on which “Shutter Island” is based takes place in Massachusetts, and the film was shot almost entirely in the Bay State. “We looked at Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island — searching for incentives so we would get a bang for the buck,” says location manager Robin Citrin. “Massachusetts had good ones, plus a lot of abandoned mental hospitals, some of them with incredible architecture.”

Scorsese and Ferretti picked a derelict facility in the town of Medfield and “surrounded it with a high wall to make it look like a prison, or like an institution for the criminally insane,” says Ferretti. (The film is set in 1954.) “We also found an old warehouse where we shot most of the film’s interiors. We used it like a studio and built about 70% of the film’s interiors from scratch inside of it.”

Ferretti worked closely with vfx supervisor Rob Legato to create the lighthouse on Shutter Island, site of the film’s denouement. “We built just 20 feet of its exterior,” says Ferretti. “The rest, up to the top, was CGI. I did the drawings and built a small model so we would have a clear idea of what to do.”

Set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo, Ferretti’s collaborator and wife of 25 years, dressed all the sets to give them spooky yet accurate period details. During jobs, the duo try to not talk shop in the evenings. “We have a very good meal instead,” says Ferretti, “and talk about the vacation we’ll take when we finish the movie.”

But, after a pause, he betrays the workaholic within: “What I do is a great pleasure. When they ask me where I’m going on vacation, I say, ‘I’ll go on vacation when I start to work.'”

Ferretti is now taking his eighth “vacation” with Scorsese, filming “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” with exteriors in Paris and interiors in London.

Bookings & Signings

Dattner Dispoto d.p. bookings: Bob Gantz on a Richard Hatem ABC pilot, Russell Fine on NBC’s “Mercy” and “White Collar,” Jo Willems on Neil Burger’s “Dark Fields,” Jon Joffin on Michael Goldbach’s “Daydream Nation,” Flavio Labiano on Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Unknown White Male,” Arlene Nelson on Harry Shearer’s “Levees of New Orleans” and David Stockton on CW’s “Nikita”; plus production designer Carlos Menendez on Tom Hanks’ “Larry Crowne.”

Marsh, Best bookings: costume designers Doug Hall on George Ratliff’s “Salvation Boulevard,” Hope Hanafin on Fox TV pilot “Midland” and Christine Peters on ABC TV pilot “Off the Map”; production designer Carlos Conti on Walter Salles’ “On the Road”; and exec producers Michael Beugg on Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ “Will” and J. Miles Dale on Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s “The Thing.” Marsh Best has signed production designer Phil Ivey and 3D stereoscopic vfx supervisor Jeremy Nicolaides.

Montana Artists bookings: costume designer Alexandra Welker on Tim Hill’s “I Hop,” Bobbie Read on TNT’s “Dark Blue,” Alexis Scott on Brian Levant’s “Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster” and Genevieve Tyrrell on ABC pilot “Mr. Sunshine”; editors Peter Ellis on ABC’s “The Gates,” Keith Reamer on Jim Kohlberg’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Tom Elkins on Todd Lincoln’s “The Apparition,” Richard Schwadel on Disney Channel’s “16 Wishes,” Gary Levy on TBS’ “Are We There Yet” and Jordan Goldman and Kim Ray on FX’s “Terriers”; and 1st a.d.’s David Ticotin on Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” and Max Day on the untitled Adam Carolla pilot for NBC.

Gersh bookings: production designers Richard Bridgland Fitzgerald on Jaume Collett-Serra’s “Unknown White Male,” Jon Hutman on Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck’s “Tourist,” Rusty Smith on Sean McNamara’s “Soul Surfer,” Franco de Cotiis on Syfy’s “Warehouse 13,” Lester Cohen on FX’s “Lights Out” and Jeff Mann on Ben Stiller’s “Lights Out.”

Gersh editorial bookings: Andrew Hulme on Anton Corbijn’s “The American,” Art Jones on David Slade’s “Twilight: Eclipse,” Meg Reticker on HBO’s “Bored to Death” and Eric Zumbrunnen on Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars.” Gersh also booked 2nd unit director Gary Capo on Robert Schwentke’s “Red.”

Innovative Artists bookings: line producer Lewis Abel on CBS “Defenders” pilot; editors William Yeh on Antonio Negret’s “Seconds Apart” and Matt Ramsey on ABC pilot “Off the Map”; costume designers Kathryn Morrison on CBS “Hawaii 5-0” pilot and Linda Bass on NBC “Prime Suspect” pilot; and production designers Chuck Parker on ABC “187 Detroit” pilot, Lauren Crasco on CW “Wyoming” pilot and Bill Eigenbrodt on CBS “Defenders” pilot.

IA commercial bookings: d.p. Rhet Bear on a David Nail music video; d.p.’s Doug Chamberlain, Eric Haase, Jeff Venditti, Randly Arnold and Peter Benson on spots for Walgreens, Muscle Milk, Chuck E. Cheese, Oxy-Clean and Burger King, respectively; and production designer Bradley Thordarson on a Kia spot.

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