Episode 25 – Behind the Curtain with a Production Designer w/ Shayne Fox

Even illusory worlds need designers, and for the film and television industry, creating those worlds fall to the artistry and skill of Production Designers.

Every scene you see when watching a movie or television show that isn’t a documentary was purposely thought out and designed by someone. And the vast majority of times, that someone is a Production Designer. Yet while the results of their efforts are visible right there on the screen for everyone to see, a fog shrouds the magnitude of the production designer’s role to weave together imagination and technique, seamlessly blending illusion with reality.

With discipline, precision and fiscal mindfulness, their job is (put simply) to elevate the script and bring it to life, transforming ideas into captivating imagery and giving tangible purpose to those images. Using many of the same tools that those in the A&D industry would recognize, production designers plan every shot from microscopic to macroscopic detail.

Shayne Fox is a Toronto-based production designer and set decorator who for over three decades has created television programming and feature films for FX Network, NBC, Netflix, Warner Brothers, Sony, MGM and many others. She has received two prime time Emmy nominations as well as four Art Directors Guild nominations, two wins, and also somehow found time to design and launch a hardware line.

I was able to pull Shayne away from the set of the FX show, What We Do in The Shadows as it wrapped shooting its sixth and final season in Toronto to understand her profession more fully and just how much it mirrors the built environment design professions are familiar with.

“What We Do In The Shadows” — “The Grand Opening” — Season 4, Episode 3 — Pictured: Kayvan Novak as Nandor, Harvey Guillén as Guillermo, Anoop Desai as Djinn. (credit: Russ Martin / FX)
“What We Do In The Shadows” — ‘The Night Market” — Season 4, Episode 4 — Pictured: Kayvan Novak as Nandor. (credit: Russ Martin / FX)
“What We Do In The Shadows” — ‘Pine Barrens” — Season 4, Episode 7 — Pictured: Matt Berry as Laszlo. (credit: Russ Martin / FX)
“What We Do In The Shadows” — “A Weekend at Morrigan Manor” — Season 5, Episode 9 (Airs August 31) — Pictured (L-R): Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson, Harvey Guillén as Guillermo, Kristen Schaal as The Guide, Natasia Demetriou as Nadja, Matt Berry as Laszlo. (credit: Russ Martin / FX)

Catch up on past episodes of What We Do in the Shadows on FX and Citytv+.