Animated Views Interviews Frank Walsh
The ‘Animated Views’ website is proud to present their second interview with Prince Caspian crew members. This time they are interviewing Frank Walsh, the art director for Prince Caspian. There’s also some brand new pictures of the sets used in the film.
Animated Views: How and why did you come on Prince Caspian?
I was fortunate enough that my name was put forward to the producers by a very well respected English construction manager, whose recommendation resulted in my being invited to meet Roger Ford, the production designer, as he passed through London on his way to meetings in Prague. Following this very brief meeting, the following weekend I was asked to again to see him, for a second interview. During this he introduced me to Kerrie Brown, his set decorator, so I could describe to them the pros and cons about working in Eastern Europe. It was after that meeting I was offered the position and within days I was in Prague recruiting my Czech art department team.
My experience of the film industry stretches back over 25 years, and I have been fortunate to have worked with multinational crews many times, and in Prague twice before. Obviously, the Chronicles subject was well known to me from reading the books myself and to my children, and this was an opportunity not presented often. One which I desperately wanted to do, especially after meeting Roger, and seeing the scope of his vision. The added attraction was naturally working in New Zealand, with the crews there.
AV: How would you explain to role of an art director on a movie like this?
FW: Initially, my task is to assess the scale and complexity of the project. Working from the script, looking at concepts and discussing the scope of the film with the designer, I have to deduce a workable budget and schedule that fits into the producers’ scale of time and costs. This includes the cost and logistics of assembling the art department crew, the costs and crew makeup that should be anticipated for construction, on through to the set decorating and prop making costs. From that, I have to try and assemble the right team to achieve the demands of the design, budget and schedule. I select the art directors, draftsmen and other creatives, through to selecting a construction manager with the right crew and expertise to see the project through. Added to this are all the ancillary members of the creative team, scenic artists, greens men, prop makers, local technicians, etc, that go into making the project happen. I also advise the production on other crew members that will be needed, such as the Special effects department on this occasion, to try and make a homogeneous working team.