‘The Revenant’s’ Production Designer on Challenges of Working Outdoors

The labors of production designers aren’t confined to interiors and man-made objects. Take, for instance, the work of production designer Jack Fisk, nominated both for an Oscar and an Art Directors Guild award for his work on Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant.”

Fisk designed Leonardo DiCaprio’s journey through virgin wilderness, and hiked for months with location scouts across rough terrain as he searched for textures and settings that would visually serve the story. Each location had to have a backup in case snowfall or flooding prevented its use.

Every build was made from the ground up, including Indian villages, campsites, a keel boat and a complete fort. The sites were authentic and fully functional. The fort included a mess hall, the commander’s office, streets, dorms and shops for a butcher and a blacksmith. Canoes were built by hand.

Mindful of the impact of the sun’s angle on the landscapes, Fisk also worked with d.p. Emmanuel Lubezki to prevent the equipment from casting unwanted shadows. “We had to make sure the backlighting would not reveal the camera,” Fisk says.

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