You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dave Blass on Mark Worthington

ADG Awards 2012: Designers on Design

Dave Blass on Mark Worthington, production designer, “American Horror Story”

The production design of FX’s “American Horror Story” hits just the right notes in the right order to create the foreboding setting for a story that moves from macabre to gruesome within the first 15 minutes.

Envisioning an elegant and yet classically creepy mansion was the challenge for Mark Worthington and his talented crew. The archetype of the haunted house is as old as cinema, with as many conventions as there are examples. But Worthington breathes new life into the time-honored genre.

Layers of Victorian-era woods and stained glass windows give ominous hints of the architecture of evil, while also making the home seem inviting for its opportunistic new residents. The warmth of the house is the downfall of the characters, as you can’t help but cringe each time they walk into a space so inviting, but where doom hangs in every room like an invisible fog.

There are too many shadows, too many corners, too many dark places where things can lurk. The house tells a haunting backstory with visceral layer upon layer. Coffered ceilings loom overhead, walls of cabinets wait to spring open on their own, and enormous shadow-filled attics are all poised for a demonic story to play out.

Great production design tells a story without a word of dialogue — the environment conveys the tale to the viewer. In this show each room holds a secret waiting to be told, and suspense is expressed through architecture in an ominous way.

There’s an instant eerie sensation when a door opens to a long stairwell into a dark basement, or a figure stands in an elongated hallway with a door at the end. It’s a fear that has become part of our collective subconscious and one that Worthington uses with deft skill to paint the walls of “American Horror Story.”

In an era of reimagining classics, it’s refreshing to see an artist embrace the past rather than try to reinvent it.

Dave Blass’ credits include “Justified” and “Cold Case”

Tightening the definition
Designers on design
Production designers and art directors comment on the ADG-nominated work of their peers
John Muto on Dante Ferretti | Greg Grande on Jefferson Sage | Norm Newberry on Stuart Craig | John Sabato on Patti Podesta | Ken Averill on Christopher Glass | John Shaffner on Steve Bass | Dave Blass on Mark Worthington | John Iacovelli on James Yarnell

More TV

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Expands Suit Against Agencies With New Fraud Allegations

    The Writers Guild of America has bulked up its lawsuit with additional fraud allegations against Hollywood’s four biggest talent agencies. The WGA amended its suit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court with the claim that CAA, WME, UTA and ICM partners have engaged “constructive fraud” by allegedly placing their own interests ahead of their clients [...]

  • Jason Mitchell

    Jason Mitchell Dropped From 'The Chi' Season 3, Netflix Film

    Jason Mitchell is being dropped from a number of his current and upcoming projects. Variety has confirmed that the up and coming actor will not return for “The Chi’s” already announced third season, with Season 2 of the show currently airing on Showtime. In addition, Mitchell will no longer be starring in the Netflix film “Desperados,” in [...]

  • Maisie Williams

    TV News Roundup: Maisie Williams to Guest Judge 'RuPaul's Drag Race UK'

    In today’s roundup, Maisie Williams will guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” and “Drunk History” will return with eight new episodes to Comedy Central.  DATES Comedy Central‘s “Drunk History” will return with eight new episodes beginning with “Derek Waters’ Believe It or Not” Tuesday, June 18 at 10 p.m. The series premiere of “Alternatino [...]

  • Lisa Kudrow

    Lisa Kudrow Joins Lee Daniels-Whitney Cummings Comedy Pilot 'Good People' at Amazon

    Lisa Kudrow has signed on to star in and executive produce the comedy pilot “Good People” currently in the works at Amazon, Variety has learned. The half-hour project hails from writers and executive producers Whitney Cummings and Lee Daniels, with Cummings also set to star. It centers on three generations of women working in the [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale: Much

    'Game of Thrones' Series Finale: A Lot of 'Love' Despite Much-Criticized Ending

    Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched “The Iron Throne,” the series finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” aka season 8, episode 6. Bran Stark may have a perpetual poker face, but “Game of Thrones” fans certainly had a lot of feelings about him Sunday night. The stony faced character was the No. 1 [...]

  • Naomi Watts Game of Thrones

    Everything We Know About the 'Game of Thrones' Prequels (So Far)

    Prequels are coming. Fans looking for their next fix after “Game of Thrones,” rest assured, plans are already in the works to cash in on George R.R. Martin’s expansive fantasy universe. HBO has been tight-lipped about details, but at least one prequel series has already been ordered with four others in development. Ancient History The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content