Press > Escape From L.A. > Exclusive Interviews > Patrick M. Sullivan Jr. (Set Designer)

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 Twister 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 Twister with a demanding designer, had some good drawings to show so he figured I could handle working for him.

1: USPF (United States Police Force) Emblem
2: Electric Chair
3: Earthquake Rubble
4: Sewer

How did you and Nathan Crowley (Set Designer), Richard Mays (Set Designer), Christopher S. Nushawg (Set Designer) and Darrell L. Wight (Set Designer) as well as Lawrence G. Paull (Production Designer), Bruce Crone (Art Director), Tim Lawrence (Concept Artist) and Joseph Musso (Illustrator) 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 drawn.

How were the drawings created, what kind of research did they require, which were the hardest to create and did John Carpenter (Director/Co-Writer/Co-Composer) or Lawrence G. Paull have any specific requests?

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 and Underwelten 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 Studios. EXT. (Exterior) Detention Center with the entry, the perimeter walls and guard towers were built at the (Donald C.) Tillman Water Reclamation Plant.

How long did these drawings take 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 the studio. 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 (Snake Plissken/Producer/Co-Writer) 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