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Legends of the Fall

1994 | Director: Edward Zwick |

After reading this wonderful script, I had my interview with Edward Zwick. The script describes a large, western log house so I brought an amazing book of photographs from the turn of the century in Russia. Considering that so many immigrants came to the northern states from northern Europe, I told him that if I were to production design the film, I would build a dacha (which is a Russian summer cabin.) This is exactly what we ended up doing.

I spent hours with John Toll, who won his first academy award for this film, moving stakes that would be the house, barn and other buildings in every direction (sometimes merely inchers) until he felt the set would be perfect for the arch of the sun.

The buildings had to be very sturdy to hold up against the winds that whipped across the plains – sometimes at sixty miles an hour. Realizing that the weather was uncertain and we would have to go to cover, I suggested we build the inside of the house as well. This meant constructing the buildings in such a way that we could pull out certain walls and ceiling pieces. This allowed us to shoot outside in the beautiful light of the morning and evening and shoot inside during the hot, flat light of the middle of the day.

Every day of this shoot was amazing.