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Jess Gonchor: Production Design in Action
Posted January 06, 2010 to photo album "Jess Gonchor: Production Design in Action"
The designer of the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man shows us how he works.
Slide 2: A Serious Man
A Serious Man was the third film Gonchor had done with the Coen brothers. For this period piece about a Jewish family living outside of Minneapolis, Gonchor needed to design not just a set, but an entire neighborhood––and on a budget. He asked himself, “How am I going to tell the story of suburbia in 1967, some 40 odd years later?” As he realized, this was a time when developments were just going in: “We needed something with a one-car garage, a single car driveway, fresh lawns, newly paved street. I finally came upon this neighborhood in Bloomington that a tornado had blown through eight years earlier. And there was a little pocket of a block where all the trees had been blown over. I went in and there were eight houses, four on each side of the street. With a bit of careful tree removal, we got a brand new community. And people were actually happy us to remove some of the more dangerous remaining trees leaning on roofs. Then we sodded all the lawns and where there were two car driveways, we had to make everything a little bit smaller. Make double garages into single. We put chimneys on and repaved the road and got the period cars in there.”