5 Minutes with Production Designer Anna Deamer


Introduce yourself…

I am a designer and art director and have worked in theatre, film, television and fine art. I teach courses in production design and art direction at Brighton Film School and Wimbledon College of Art alongside my own practice. Currently I make gallery-based work in the form of full size, built and dressed film sets, these are immersive for the gallery audience who can enter and walk around the rooms. The sets are lit and accompanied by sound.

Who or what has inspired you to be involved in making film/moving image?

I was working for the Royal Court Theatre as a Theatre Designer in London in the 1990s and was fed up with tiny budgets and late nights. I was moaning abut this to a colleague, an Australian designer called Helen Bauman, and she suggested I contact the BBC because she thought I would enjoy the working process of design for film. I contacted the BBC Art Department and was lucky to be offered a traineeship, I absolutely loved it, the team work, the professionalism, the speed of work and proper budgets to work with. I was hooked form that moment.

How has Brighton and Hove influenced your work?

Moving to Brighton has had a huge impact on my work. Four years ago I started working locally with CINECITY who run Brighton Film Festival, on set design projects based on Brighton films, novels and novelists. I have become interested in and am motivated by Brighton Film History, local writers, and artists, there is a great sense of history in this city. I also started teaching set design locally and feel very strongly that Brighton, which used to be at the centre of the UK film industry 100 years ago has the potential to be a centre again and hope I can help a little to encourage that.

What advice would you give to creative people seeking work or wanting to develop their careers in the industry?

Get some training and contact production companies for work experience. It’s a very competitive industry so the more training and work experience you have the better your chances of paid work. Be prepared to work hard and work long hours. You need commitment, persistence and determination.

What’s the most interesting part of your job?

Everything! The diversity of the work you undertake in the art department is exciting and challenging and never dull. You find yourself doing such a wide range of jobs from research, script analysis, drawing, model making, construction, budgets, set dressing and buying, prop making, graphics, on camera work, screenings…you meet a wide range of people, travel and get access to places that you would not normally see. It’s a privilege to work in the industry.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Being able to manage the wide range of tasks….see above!

Dead or alive, who are the top three people you’d most like to collaborate with, and why?

Georges Méliès, Alfred Hitchcock (who worked as an art director in his early career) and Orson Welles to learn skills, tricks and methods from the early days of film, skills that may be lost one day, model shots, clever use of mirrors, matt shots and to watch these masters at work .

If you could only take one film away with you on a desert island, what would it be and why?

Right now it would be Alan Partridge’s (Steve Coogan) ‘Alpha Pappa’, which I’ve watched endlessly with my son and partner and which we all love. It would remind me of them and make me laugh.