Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Canucks take 3 of 5 Oscar nominations for art direction

Gordon Sim, Anastasia Masaro and Patrice Vermette nominated in hybrid category

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.' Production designer and native Anastasia Masaro has been co-nominated for the Oscar for Art Direction.

The 2010 Oscar nominations have given an unexpected boost to the artistic vision of Canadians on the cinematic world stage. In the category of art direction, three out of five nominations  include Canadians, two of them from Toronto.
Set designer Gordon Sim, 58, who shared an Oscar in 2003 for his work on the film Chicago, has been nominated for Nine.
Production designer Anastasia Masaro, 35, has been nominated for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. And production designer Patrice  Vermette of Montreal has been nominated for The Young Victoria."Maybe it's something good for the film industry in Canada," Vermette said in an interview.
Art direction is an unusual Oscar category, Sim noted, a sort of hybrid award combining the talents of a production designer, who createsthe overall vision of the film, and the set designer or decorator, who implements it.
"Art direction is really the look of the film, how the film looks visually ... in conjunction with the cinematographer. It's the physical embodiment of the film, it's the sets, the things that belong in the sets and the ideas behind them," said Sim, who is co-nominated with production designer John Myhre.
Sim said he and Myhre worked on the Nine sets on a speedyschedule in England and Italy, where the film was shot by director Rob Marshall, who also helmed Chicago.
"Doing a musical (film) is complicated because there's a huge rehearsal period," Sim explained."It's like doing theatre, in a way. There's a rehearsal period where parts of the set have to be built so that the dance numbers can berehearsed on them."
Sim is used to such challenges, having worked as a set designer atthe Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Shaw Festival.Now Sim is working with Myhre and Marshall again in Los Angeles as set designer on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Masaro, a Toronto native co-nominated with art director Dave Warren and set designer Caroline Smith, said she heard about her nomination for Dr. Parnassus in a phone call from the film's publicist early Tuesday morning."There was screaming. And then the phone calls and the emails started. It's crazy, but it's a great crazy. I'm going to be screaming for the rest of the day," Masaro said.
Masaro said the film shoot in the U.K. and Vancouver with Dr. Parnassus director Terry Gilliam was tough: "It was all guns blazing at all times from the get-go." Dr. Parnassus is Masaro's second collaboration with Gilliam, following Tideland. "He is the reason that I wanted towork in films in the first place. What I do is hopefully bring to life what is in the director's mind. He's very good at letting me know what'sgoing on in his mind."
Vermette, who is nominated along with set designer Maggie Gray, hasworked before with Québécois filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée. Before TheYoung Victoria, Vallée and Vermette's best known work was the 2005 coming-of-age drama C.R.A.Z.Y.
When Vallée was tapped to direct The Young Victoria by the film's producers – including the legendary Martin Scorsese – Vallée insisted on bringing a handful of key people along, including Vermette."We tried to be as accurate as possible," Vermette said. "We just read and read and read about the royal family and the era in which the film takes place. It was an extensive course in British history."

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