Zosia MacKenzie has spent the last few years making the jump from indie features to studio productions. Zosia’s recent projects include the latest installment of the V/H/S series V/H/S/94, Brandon Cronenberg’s upcoming new film Infinity Pool, and the upcoming Blumhouse remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter directed by Keith Thomas. When she’s not working as a Production Designer, Zosia is also a musician and released her first electronic album, “Obraz” (Portrait), under the anagrammatic alias Szaio earlier this year.
JD: How long have you been in the film and television industry?
ZM: I’ve been working in the film industry for over ten years now. I did several internships at Canadian production houses when I was studying at Ryerson University, but the first film I worked on was Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress in 2010. I was living in New York City at the time with my best friend Alison and we saw they were looking for crew on Craigslist. We both applied and got the gig!
JD: What is your background, education or training?
ZM: I studied Radio & Television Arts at Ryerson. I’m not sure what the program is like these days but when I was there it was a fairly hands-on approach. During our first year, we took four courses (Film, Television, Digital Media, Audio Recording) and from there we chose one specialty, so I chose film. School’s great if you’re into listening to other people talk about film, but I was eager to get it over with and start working, so I fast-tracked my courses and ended up finishing a semester early.
JD: What are your film influences?
ZM: There are lots, but recently I’ve been rewatching a bunch of Polish films from the 50s and 60s. There’s an immediacy and energy in them that resonates with me. The cinematography and editing also still feel relevant and actually better than most newer films! Mother Joan of Angels and the Andrzej Wajda War Trilogy are ones that really stand out for me.
JD: What are your other inspirations? Whether they be art, music, architectural…
ZM: I spend a lot of time listening to music. When I’m at home reading a script or working on something I’ll generally have some ambient music on in the background. In the evenings my partner John and I like to DJ and play more upbeat records. When we’re not in COVID lockdown, we also love to go dancing. I’ve recently started writing and recording my own music as well.
JD: What do you feel people do not understand about what you do as a Production Designer?
ZM: Most people I know work in or watch films – so I hope they know what I do!
JD: What is your most treasured inanimate object in your possession? Could be jewelry art, furnishing, or a design-related piece.
ZM: I have a portrait of my Grandmother that was painted in 1937 when she was a teenager in Warsaw. My Mom brought it back from Poland recently and I used it as the album cover for an LP released under the name Szaio this spring.
JD: If you could work in another position in the film or media industry what would you do?
ZM: I could see trying my hand at directing, as I’ve had a lot of experiences that could make for some interesting subject matter.
JD: What did you aspire to do as a young adult or child?
ZM: When I was a child, being a veterinarian and a dancer were top of mind. As a young adult, I’ve been pretty focused on working in film and haven’t yet worked outside of the film industry.
Lightning Round Questions:
Colour that goes with everything: Black
Analogue or digital: Analogue
Most recent film or series that inspired you? I guess they’re not that recent anymore but Climax, Uncut Gems and The Lighthouse all stand out. I don’t watch many series but I loved the most recent Twin Peaks. I’ve been lucky to have worked with both Naomi Watts and Kyle MacLachlan so I feel that much closer to David Lynch!
Queen East or Queen West: I grew up in Roncesvalles (and still reside there today) so I’m somewhat “west-end-biased” but my family recently moved to the Beaches so I’ve been spending more time out there too.
Favourite non-work activity: I enjoy playing records, watching movies, and hanging out with friends.
Fiction or nonfiction: I read both fiction and nonfiction.
Rap or Rock or R&B: I like all music but probably more into electronic.
Favourite thing about Toronto: My friends, family and apartment.
Dogs or cats: Dogs, but I like all animals.
White or red: Are we talking about wine? Both.
Favourite crew lunch: Per diem!