Producer-director Steve Miner wanted me to production design his films Warlock and House. Regarding Warlock, I told Steve that I had just signed a contract with Walt Disney Imagineering the day before Steve’s offer.
“Well, break your contract!”
“Steve…I know it might be common in Hollywood, but I’m not the kind of guy who goes around breaking his contracts. I’m a man of my word.”
Steve was disappointed; Disney was relieved.
Steve got Greg Fonseca to production design House. For fun, Steve tried to set us up to dislike each other (people in the Film Biz love creating head games), but I didn’t take the bait. I could tell Greg was nervous and insecure when I visited the set. He tried a few bits of one-upmanship on me, which made me chuckle. His digs didn’t work on me as I could sense his insecurities, I could see right through what he was doing and I knew it was me that Steve really wanted to design Warlock. In front of Steve, I complimented Greg on his design work for Warlock.
Although I didn’t production design House, I did contribute to the film. The character played by William Katt had an aunt who was a surrealist painter. Steve asked me to paint the paintings she had supposedly done. I agreed to paint the most important one and then designed the other four for my studio mate Richard Hescox to complete. Here are some of my roughs, my finished “unfinished” painting of the aunt, and three of the four Richard Hescox paintings (unfortunately, I don’t have a record of Richard’s fourth picture):
OK…Why finished “unfinished” painting?
Steve Miner wanted a mostly but still partially completed painting. Steve rejected my first attempt, as it really was a truly unfinished painting with the blank areas not actually being blank. The blank areas were loosely laid in — like when I make a real painting.
“The audience is not going to understand this is an unfinished painting. You need to make the unfinished parts white.”
Steve was right, of course. I shouldn’t have expected the movie audience to understand my actual painting process. It reminds me of my favorite Billy Wilder quote.
A movie fan, upon meeting Wilder, praised Wilder for his films’ subtleties.
“Jah, subtlety is good ,” Wilder replied, “as long as you hit them over the head with it.”