DGC Ontario Art Director Aleks Cameron received her first Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Program (Half-Hour) for her work on What We Do In The Shadows. We caught up with Aleks ahead of the Creative Arts Emmy’s virtual broadcast.
Check out the behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram.
How does it feel to be nominated for your first Emmy for What We Do In the Shadows?
The nomination is pretty exciting! I didn’t have phone service the day it was announced and I turned my phone on to so many text messages from people from the show and friends in the industry who had heard the news. I knew we had done a good job in Season 2, but it was still a surprise to be recognized. Nevermind that this is actually the first time I’ve Art Directed a production from beginning to end so it’s a very nice way to be welcomed in.
What makes “Resurrection, Collaboration and Witches” stand out episodes?
Our mansion has been ever evolving and we always seemed to be on crazy, tight deadlines (as usual). In “Resurrection” (Ep 1), we were unable to secure our location from the previous season and ended up building the entire facade out in the front parking lot, excavating a hole in the asphalt for the pond and everything. All the departments were on top of each other trying to get it done. We were down to the last hour, in the cold with people saying it wasn’t possible. Every single department pulled through and it was pretty incredible to see that end result.
For “Collaboration” (Ep 8), we had The Music Room. Our Designer Kate went all out with this one. We really went over the top with colour and wallpaper, commissioning a giant mural by local artist Aurora Kruk. Everything came together so beautifully. When we walked through the set the first time, I think everyone was incredibly proud of themselves and each other for what we achieved in so little time.
In “Witches” (Ep 9), we had yet another big ask: The Underground Witches Lair. We used the Thomas Foster Temple in Uxbridge (Ontario) and retrofitted the entire interior with flattage for our set through one set of double doors, piece by piece. I was away for an emergency the last few days of prep and everyone worked their tails off to pull this together. The drive and dedication of everyone else just motivated the next person.
It always feels so nice and rewarding to be able to facilitate a build and watch it go up, but the people who put in the physical labour and make it all stand up and real, never get enough credit.
What is the most rewarding thing about designing What We Do In The Shadows?
The most rewarding part was the people coming together to meet these large requests. We had such a solid crew in art, set dec, construction and paint. Kate Bunch, our designer from LA was here for her second season. Her and I have previously worked together and it was such a great opportunity when she entrusted me with this position. My relationship with her, the rest of the art department and construction was honest and fun, and what made this production as enjoyable as it was. This show has such great humour and such good people who work behind-the-scenes, that it felt fitting that we were able to come together in the dark, bitter cold winter to achieve the sets you see.
What do you love most about working in Toronto?
The talent. There are so many people dedicated to this industry who work hard everyday and have something to prove. As a new Art Director, meeting new people and having people reach out to me for the first time, really gave me the opportunity to realize how talented this city is. We’re all dying to make a name for ourselves and to show off what we have to offer.
Everyone comes to the table with such unique talents, experience and diversity, making Toronto such a great city to work and invest in.