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Interviews > Patrick M. Sullivan Jr. (Set Designer: Escape From L.A.)
How did you end up being a Set Designer, Art Director and Production Designer?
I studied architecture, but always loved movies. When I learned I could be
creative, design and build cool architecture for film, that's what I pursued.
How did you get the assignment to be a Set Designer for
Escape From L.A.?
It was my second union film. I had no support network as yet. No one to call to
get my next job. I had just completed
and was in the union office finally getting sworn-in. A production underway at
Paramount had called the union office, looking for an availability list to get
crew. I got my name in there to meet with Larry (Lawrence G.) Paull (Production
Designer). We got on well. He saw that I had managed to be successful on
with a demanding designer, had some good drawings to show, so he figured I could
handle working for him.
1: USPF Emblem
2: Electric Chair
3: Earthquake Rubble
How did you, Nathan Crowley, Richard Mays, Christopher S. Nushawg and Darrell L.
Wight as well as Lawrence G. Paull, Art Director Bruce Crone and Concept Artists
Tim Lawrence and Joseph Musso collaborate?
Larry Paull overseas and conceptualizes, and we all help him flesh out his
ideas. Props and ships, vehicles and weapons are generally in the realm of the
illustrator. Tim Lawrence handled a majority of that. Joe Musso was great at
creating the overall wide establishing shots and setting the mood and scale of
the film. Richard Mays was brought on to specifically handle the construction
drawings to build the helicopter set piece. Chris, Darrell, Nathan and I handled
the set design drawings. They were doled out mostly based upon schedule and size
of build. Whomever was finished their previous set as the next one needed to get
How were the drawings created, what kind of research did they require, which
were the hardest to create and did John Carpenter or Lawrence G. Paull have any
The drawings were done entirely by hand. Construction documents, illustrations
and concept art. The key here is
that these were all pre-digital realm. Markers, inks, lead, paper, vellum,
glue. In short, messy.
Research was entirely collaborative. We knew what we were going for and the
texture and tone that it required. A few reference books, namely
City of Darkness
factored heavily in development of our ideas. Some sets were full builds on a
sound stage. The INT. (Interior) Sewer, INT. Detention Center. Others were
partial builds of various sizes to augment locations chosen by Larry and John
Carpenter such as
various locations in downtown Los Angeles as well as the backlot at Universal
EXT. (Exterior) Detention Center, with the entry, the perimeter walls and guard
towers were built at the (Donald C.) Tillman Water Reclamation Plant.
long did these drawings took to make and were any ideas discarded?
Certainly a lot of material gets
discarded in the process. That being said, a lot also get saved and archived by
Constructions drawings and
illustrations take days to weeks to complete. It varies, based upon complexity,
medium and its place in the process.
Some ideas get worked out
THROUGH these drawings, others are just output to present for approval.
Pre-production, the design and planning phase of the film, may have been as much
as 12 weeks before filming began.
What's your favorite memory or memories of working on the movie?
My favorite memory has to be seeing Kurt Russell in full Snake Plissken costume,
eye patch and all. I was a big fan of the original, so I felt fortunate and
grateful to be a part of the lore and the legend.
What do you think of the movie personally?
It's great fun. It had the perfect tone and quality that it needed to have to
sustain and continue the cult status of the saga. I've always felt that the
story, almost beat for beat, is like a retelling of the original. Characters,
their meaning, purpose and importance, align across both films.
What are you currently doing and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I'm still staying busy in the industry, always trying to find new creative
challenges. I enjoy spending time with my family in my spare time.
Thank you for your time, Patrick
Drawings provided by Patrick M. Sullivan Jr.