DGC Ontario Production Designer Andrew Stearn has worked on a wide variety of Productions from Chicago to The Handmaid’s Tale. We caught up with Andrew to discuss the twisted dark comedy thriller Ready Or Not, currently at 90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and being hailed as “one of the best movies of the year.”
You have been an Art Director and a Production Designer for a while, how did you get your start and move up to bigger television series and films?
I believe it’s who you know. It may be a tired phrase but in my career it’s proven true. I don’t have an agent, and have had to rely on recommendations for nearly every job opportunity over the last 25 years. I started as a trainee, working in all aspects of the Art department, on all different types of movies and television series, I learned a lot in those years, but perhaps more importantly I meet a lot of people along the way. Connections alone won’t land you the job but it can at least give you a chance to prove you can contribute to the project.
Can you tell us more about the design for Ready or Not and how you made the most of one location?
Ready or Not is the story of a family who has grown rich from creating games. It was important that the mansion they lived in have the essence of those classic games, like Clue. From the beginning an attempt was made to make the movie look and feel like a game within a spooky mansion.
There are many traditions in this family circle that date back to the Victorian era, so it was important to give the Le Domas Estate an old money feel. Our primary location was the Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, but we also shot several days at another location in Oshawa designed by the same architect, Sunnybrook Stables, and at Casa Loma. The challenge was to bring elements of Casa Loma to the Oshawa location and Parkwood touches to Casa Loma to help tie the locations together. Hopefully the movie does look like it’s shot in one location.
Can you speak more on your creative collaboration with fellow DGC Ontario Director Kari Skogland on The Handmaid’s Tale episode ‘Night’?
I worked with Kari Skogland on the first series I designed, Cra$h and Burn. It was a great experience, her energy transfers to the screen in every show she directs. What I remember most about that episode is that it was the last of the first season so there was a real feeling that we had to get it right, to leave the audience wanting more. I think Kari did just that.
What was your favorite aspect about designing for Ready or Not?
Working on a project on this scale makes for a very creative experience. Prep is brief, budgets are tight and the shooting schedule is short. It forces everyone to come up with solutions together, my favorite aspect was working with a great team: Art department, Locations, Ad’s, Production,Construction, wardrobe, props.