It’s always fascinating to get a little insight into how hundreds if not thousands of people come together to make something that is quite honestly larger than life itself.
With Avengers: Infinity War now on store shelves at retailers everywhere for fans to take home we got the unique opportunity to sit down with Production Designer Charles Wood to get a little insight on the making of what is easily the biggest film not only of the year and decade…but quite possibly of the modern age ever since films like Ben-Hur & Lawrence of Arabia provided spectacle beyond imagination.
Dave Voigt: When you’re serving as a production designer inside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, does it provide any extra challenges because not only do you have to be concerned for your movie, but in at least some way all of the other movies that have come before it?
Charles Wood: Oh definitely, I mean I certainly had never worked on anything of this scale before in my career. It was pretty all encompassing I would say (laughs)…Granted I had worked on a few of the other Marvel films before this one and having the knowledge and even just basic continuity was such a big help in the production of this film.
Is there a big difference between these projects and say a regular film that you’d have worked on in the past?
Oh sure, sure…I really think that the genuine complexity that is behind these films is just so in-depth that in many ways you really are pushed to be the best that you can be on these projects. The expectations from not only the audiences but the studios as well are just at the highest level. Granted you always have that a little bit, but with Avengers: Infinity War it really ramps it up to the next level.
Do you have any examples of the day to day challenges that you can give us, because like you say, these really are films that are on another level.
It’s everything really because while it is obviously about designing sets and things like that for the film but so much of the job really comes down to logistics like choosing locations and answering big broad questions on when to make the film. It’s about dealing with all the management of getting this all together because you have to deal with the art department crews that are working all over the world and you have to coordinate that all into a shooting schedule that works. Not just from a production side of things but you also have to make sure that everything works for the actors from their end as well. It all certainly had me working out my organizational skills.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background getting into this business because it really does strike me that in many ways you have to be a bit of a ‘Jack of all Trades’ especially on a production of this magnitude.
Any stories you can share? Because I know there’s always a certain degree of fascination how big projects like this even get off the ground sometimes.
(Laughs) Oh they were daily…I’m actually having a hard time coming up with something because it really was just an engrained part of the job (Laughs)
How do you manage your team in something like this because as big and as bold as a project like this is you still have to keep everything in the stream line of the vision of the Russo Brothers. How do you truly get the village that it takes to make something like this all moving in the same direction?
Granted, I don’t do all of that because you do have a Supervising Art Director and you have many that you work alongside of to help navigate the whole film. You put your trust in them and certainly working with Joe and Anthony Russo they were really great because it wasn’t the sort of film that when you talk about scale, sure there’s already a certain sense of expectation but that’s already built into the lineage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What you often have to do is celebrate the smaller things as well as the bigger things and Joe and Anthony were very good at. In a sense they were really concerned and focused on making sure that Avengers: Infinity War was a very honest film as well as a big one. They are very specific filmmakers as well, which allowed some of the smaller more sympathetic moments to work just as well as the grandiose ones.
Does a lot of that come with having to be aware and having a genuine sense of the characters involved?
Oh absolutely it does, you’ve got to talk to the actors and the directors and the communication lines have to be open. You have to malleable because on projects like this, ideas changes often for the better and you have to be very aware of what is and isn’t working in the moment so you can make adjustments along the way.
Is there a career path to become a production designer on a movie like this?
Ooooo…you know I get asked that and I always find it difficult to answer because so much of it is just being in the right place at the right time. Luck can play a big factor but for people trying to get into this line of work I would ultimately say just to stick at it so you can have those moments come along in the first place to try and make the most of.
Avengers: Infinity War is now available on 4K, Blu-Ray, DVD & On Demand.