Production Design with Anisha Fields

On the 28th May MannIN Shorts welcomed Production Designer Anisha Fields to the Island  to run a workshop. Anisha told us of how she is keen to be working on the Island once again;

‘The Isle of Man is a fantastic place to work – visually beautiful and teeming with talented people, passionate about making film. It’s a privilege to work with the network of people I have met in the MannIn Shorts scheme.’

Anisha Fields at MannIN Shorts

Anisha Fields at MannIN Shorts

As Anisha is working on ‘Muck’, one of our MannIN Shorts finalist films being shot later this year, the workshop was organised  to provide attendees with a rare opportunity; the possibility to not only learn but potentially be selected as an assistants to work within the Art Department on this particular film.

We asked Anisha to explain in her own words what a Production Designer does…

‘ The Production Designer looks after the visual concept of a film. They work closely with the director and the cinematographer to create the visuals, and paint the picture appearing on the screen through set, props and dressing. ”

Production Design Anisha 6.

Muck, the MannIN Shorts film which Anisha is creating the production design for this year, (written by John Craine, directed by Sonya Quayle and Produced by Bev Lawley) tells this story; “Babs is a wife to a frustrated husband and a mother to an autistic son. An incident on the farm forces her into a terrible and life changing choice….

In terms of the film’s  production design, Anisha elaborates,

“It’s a fantastic script, set in the 1950s, and shot in a beautiful farmhouse on the Island. The film is very design led, so it will be an interesting project to work on, and we’re looking for assistants to help us realise our vision for the film.”

Colour swatches give a great understanding of mood and intended tone

Colour swatches give a great understanding of mood and intended tone

Anisha opened the workshop with an introduction to what a Production Designer does, telling us about her background and how she first got into the role.

‘I come from a theatre background, and had never stepped on to a film set until I went out to South Africa to visit a friend who was making a film in Johannesburg. While I was there, I helped out on bits and pieces, and was intrigued by what happened in the Art Department. A few months later someone asked me to design their film for them. I had very little experience, but threw myself into it and learnt a lot. It went from there really..’

Group Production Design Exercise

Group Production Design Exercise

In the second half of the workshop, Anisha organised a script breakdown exercise, where she split the room into six groups of five, provided them with an untitled script extract, and asked the attendees to perform an initial production design break down. This involved searching for clues within the text to what mood, feeling or messages the visuals within the frame had to portray.

Richard and Emily deep in thought

Richard deep in thought

“We learned how to pick out visual clues from synopsizes, scripts and treatments to enable us to put together an idea of the mood of the piece, costume ideas and settings. It was interesting to see the different interpretations of the same script from the different groups that participated. Although we had a few differences, by and large we all interpreted the script in much of the same way and seeing it on screen post production was very fascinating. This is testament to the great script and the great workshop that Anisha delivered.”
Richard Hird recent MannIN Shorts attendee

Watching the film extract from 'Blackbird'

Matthew and others watching the film extract from ‘Blackbird’

To conclude the exercise Anisha showed the group the actual film the scene was from, to illustrate how many of the art direction suggestions the class had made, infact made it to the screen. Here’s a teaser of the actual film we used for the excercise, the Scottish BAFTA nominated film, ‘Blackbird’, which Anisha was production designer on.

The workshop was a huge success, by the end of which, there were 20 newly informed and inspired potential assistants who put their name forward for consideration to assist Anisha. In the coming week, Anisha will select those lucky understudies who will receive training under her guidance benefiting from her expertise.

Many  new faces at the workshop

Pam Smith with  her team at the workshop

Rob Smith and Mike Martin discussing the design breakdown of their script

Rob Smith and Mike Martin discussing the design breakdown of their script

Post workshop we spoke to a few of those who attended about the potential opportunity to work with Anisha;

Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan


“I think it’s great having MannIN shorts offer these opportunities to help you get into working in film, especially to work with Anisha who has worked on award winning films.
Adam Morgan

Lorna Smith - recent MannIN Shorts attendee

Lorna Smith – recent MannIN Shorts attendee

“The opportunity to work on a film with someone like Anisha and gain experience is incredible and I feel very lucky to have the chance.”
Lorna Smith, 18


“To assist Anisha on any project would not only be an honour but a privilege where a lot could be learnt.
Ian Walton &  Angelita Inocencio


Katy and Kelly

Katy and Kelly

Selina discussing the production design  breakdown of  a script

Selina discussing the production design breakdown of a script

Here’s Anisha’s Top Tips for those wishing to explore a career in Production Design and Art Direction for films…

“Prepare to work hard, get involved with as many projects as possible and get passionate about visual storytelling! Go and see stuff to get inspired – film, visual art, theatre – and get creative. Make sure you are drawing, reading, writing, painting… it all fuels the fire.”

Photos in this blog by Dave Armstrong

Photos in this blog by Dave Armstrong -MannIN Shorts

About MannIN Shorts

"MannIN Shorts" is a brand new Isle of Man film initiative set to provide a platform for hopeful filmmakers.  Young or old, local or international it provides a launch pad to develop skills, ideas and actually make films, right here on the Isle of Man.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s