You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dave Blass on Derek Hill for ‘Hatfields & McCoys’

Art Directors Guild Awards 2013

IDesign excellence is frequently thought of in terms of its level of opulence, lavishness and finely polished style. More often than not, the design awards go to the “pretty” shows. For “Hatfields & McCoys,” production designer Derek Hill has no “pretty” brush in his quiver. With grit, dirt, and hewn timbers as his tools, he and his team paint the deeply immersive landscape of Appalachia for the miniseries.

The historic Hatfield-McCoy feud is brought to life in this sprawling epic of two families pulled apart by strife and despair. The muted color palette of tobacco, amber whiskey and pine hit the emotional chords that transport the audience to a time just after the Civil War, and Hill continues to play the subtle notes as the story unfolds over the next 30 years.

At its best the series transcends other western designs in the blending of the vast landscapes with the intimate structures cobbled together using any means these settlers had available. Each wooden shanty, cabin and barn is layered with a rich veneer of antiquity that creates a unique sense of place for each of the families, and the culture around them.

As a viewer I was never at a loss as to where I was, or what family I was sequestered with. Each clan is vividly defined by environment as well as architecture. The rolling hills of the Hatfields, juxtapose nicely to the dense woods of the McCoys. The newer brick and clapboard of Pikeville play eloquently off the older rundown Mate Creek, each defined in its own place in time.

Hill and his talented group succeeded in creating a vast array of distinctive environments, masterfully blended together so that you can smell the smoke and feel the sweat and blood oozing from the screen.

Blass’ credits include production designer on “Justified.”

More Scene

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content