The designers I’ve asked to work with me on this project make beautiful things. I’m not sure how else to phrase that sentence.  I meet Michael Heck (film/projection design) most often, as we continue to film and edit the interviews.  I also send him an inordinate amount of emails full of notes, suggestions, and ideas. I had coffee with Kate Ashton (lighting design) earlier this week and we talked about color and style, shared images and ideas.  And then earlier today I got an email from Damon Pelletier (set design) which made me rather excited.

(Drawings and design by Damon Pelletier © 2010)

I can’t draw.  The artistic talents I have do not extend very far into the visual.  As an actor and a writer, the work of designers often seems like alchemy: the subtle humanity Mike finds in editing the interviews, the textured emotion Kate evokes through controlling the quality of light, and the structured complexity Damon derives from clean lines and open space.  When I met with Damon a few weeks ago we talked about the projection surface, which will hang with wire from the grid.  I wanted it to look like a modern work of art in its own right, yet when the interviews play for it to feel like a portrait come to life.  I had this idea of a ripped or textured canvas like those created by the painter Clifford Still, or the way the walls of the subway platforms look when the posters have been torn away.

Damon sent me a number of images ideas today.  His favorite (and mine as well) is a textured canvas that includes collaged notes and papers.  I looked through the letters in my desk today, and found notes or cards I’ve kept from many of the people in the portraits.  I’ve also been trying to think of how to incorporate those yellow legal pads that I’ve used obsessively over the past year; perhaps pages of notes or lyrics will also become part of the canvas.  Above you’ll see the designs Damon sent me, and below a few of the research images with which we started.

(Left: 1948-C by Clifford Still, Right: torn posters at my subway stop in New York)