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Cannes Profiles: Meet Russell Barnes

May 22, 2013

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Photograph by Amy Binns ©

I’m here in Cannes for the 66th Film Festival as a runner for Picturehouse Cinemas. During my time I’ll be meeting up with several industry heads to get an insight into the Film business and to hear what film they’re looking forward to most at the festival.

I caught up with production designer, Russell Barnes who art directed ONLY GOD FORGIVES and production designed WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, both at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Amy Binns: How would you describe what you do?

Russell Barnes: I production design for film, television, commercials, and web series. So I take care of any thing visually related to those productions, from the furniture to the wall paper!

AB: How did you get into the industry?

RB: I first worked within the industry when I was working with my sister in New Zealand. We had a company that did a lot of merchandising and sculptural work for the record and entertainment industry. That transitioned into working on music videos and commercials. I took that work over to New York City and figured out production design was going to be my main focus. Long story short, I started working in the locations department on a job. This ignited my passion for production design even more so. I then started working with a producer as a production assistant and slowly wormed my way into the art department.

AB: What advice would you give to someone trying to get their foot in the door?

RB: Formal training is good. Of course you will find professional production designers that have had no training at all. However, if you have the time and the money to get some, do it. I’ve also heard some reports about a few schools and their production design courses, and that they sometimes lack the real world training. So it does depend on where you go. On the job experience is also very important. The only way you can get that experience is by moving to a film hub. Elsewhere, you won’t get the chances you are going to need to move up, or the experience you need to get paid. You have to be in an environment where you are constantly climbing the ladder. So my key bit of advice is, it doesn’t matter about school, although it helps, but definitely move to a film hub. If it’s really what you want to do, get there and let your passion lead you.

AB: Which film are you looking forward to seeing most at the Festival and why?

RB: If I hadn’t of seen, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE already, I would say that. But since I’ve already seen it, I’m going to say ONLY GOD FORGIVES, because I worked on it and the special lady in my life designed it!

AB: What film do you predict to be the talk of Cannes this year?


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