To Jonathan Rosenbaum:
I have to admit that familial pride and the urge to brag a bit prompts me to write and thank you for the glowing review of Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man [June 28]. You see, the production designer, Robert Ziembicki, is my brother–another talented Chicago boy makes good in Hollywood! (Barfly, The Waterdance, and Dragon, the Bruce Lee Story are just a few other films he has worked on.)
One thing I do want to point out though is that when praise is heaped upon a film’s visuals, the production designer is usually overlooked. It is the responsibility of the production designer to interpret the director’s vision into reality, using his own creativity, while working within the constraints of logistics and budget. Whereas in this particular case, Robby Muller certainly did a beautiful job capturing the look and mood of the piece, it was the production designer who actually created the scenes–he gave him something to shoot.
In other words, if the director wants a bleak, surreal look, who will design, find, and/or create the locations, sets, effects, props, etc required to give him that look? The production designer will. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
Sharon Z. Benicke