Designing Her Own Education

Senior Lexi Lovetere has worked with teachers and independently to cultivate her talents in production design, despite JPCatholic not offering a major or emphasis in that area. She has worked hard to cultivate her artistic talents on numerous films including Playing Ourselves, My Names Are, Dead of Night, and Choice.

Lexi discovered her love for production design as a freshman when she was assistant to the Set Decorators on the senior project, HERO. JPCatholic does not offer a program in production design, so Lexi had to dedicate herself to learning the craft using the resources that she had. “There is a lot of hands-on experience offered right away at JPCatholic, which is what makes us different from other film schools and I’m sure if I went to another school specifically for production design I would have just had a whole lot of theory and not jump right in to decorating sets.”

Through independent study and collaborating with teachers, she was able to make the most out of BS in Communication Media degree. “I’ve taken independent studies with Professor Scoggins and when I took advanced cinematography, Professor George Simon catered the class to my specific needs. Instead of shooting a final for the class, I did production design for my classmates. He didn’t see the value in having me not practice what I’m passionate about.”

 

 

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Lexi also works outside of class to cultivate her craft. She said, “Because it is such a niche field, it’s been hard [to learn]. It’s mostly a lot of Amazon research and learning on my own with my own budget. I have my own storage unit and I go thrift store and antique store shopping.” It can be difficult since her practice comes mostly from her own budget and senior thesis films. Once she is finished changing a set, there is not much more for her to do on it. “…there are always those instances when you feel under appreciated, but that’s in any field. [Set decorators] have a lot of pre-production, and unless there are a lot of changing sets you kind of just sit there on set…” 

On sets, Lexi finds any way to continue making the set dec look its best.“It’s my vision along with the director and the director of photography. I try to get to the monitor, but anyone who knows me knows I don’t like the spotlight, so I don’t mind it. Production design in a sense represents my personality in that way.” She sees herself as assisting in the greater picture and helping the story come to life. “If the production design isn’t good, then I don’t believe your story. I don’t believe the film if I don’t believe the supporting parts.”

Lexi often looks her inspirations as teachers. “What really got me hooked on my craft was Dante Ferretti and his design in Cinderella and the ballroom scene is all in soundstage. To take a black room and transform it into the ballroom you see… it’s honestly magic.” Lexi loves the power of color, so she really admires the work of David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds Wasco, the production designers for La La Land. “I actually met them at the Oscar Production Design Nominee panel and crazy enough, when I went this year, because of conversation a year ago, they remembered me.” She even got advice from the couple for her future in production design. “…they told me- ‘watch movies and pay attention to the background. That’s where the story and the world is created.’”

When asked about her favorite part to design, Lexi revealed that it is bedrooms because of how much they reveal about a character without using any dialogue. When working on the senior thesis film Playing Ourselves, she got into the mind of main character, Charlie, and kept in mind his poorer environment. “Production design sets the mood the tone… So, I literally went to the 99 cent store and shopped with that in mind. Location orients and explains your character without dialogue needed. It’s in the background and if it’s really good you won’t notice it because that’s what it’s supposed to be.”