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Brooklyn starring Saoirse Ronan: Production designer Francois Seguin talks recreating period New York #book2movies

Like the production designer for Carol, the French Canadian production designer, Francois Seguin, is likely to see an Oscar nomination for his work on Brooklyn. 

According to Seguin, the director John Crowley asked if they could recreate 1950’s Brooklyn without actually going to Brooklyn (the movie Carol used Cincinnati as a stand-in for 1950’s NYC) and was pleased when Seguin agreed they needed to go to the source. Going to the source meant giving current day Coney Island the vintage look you see here.

In addition to recreating the look of the 1950s, Seguin’s job was also to portray the emotional journey the character takes.

According to the video interview (below) one of the ways Seguin achieved this was by playing with the size of the spaces Eilis inhabits. Speaking of her home in Ireland, he says, “It’s a bit small: the house is small, the shop she works in is small. She is in a small town.” 

In America, everything is bigger. “She suddenly has room to grow. She goes from a little shop where it’s about 20’x20’ to a big department store. She does the same thing -- she’s selling stuff -- but suddenly, she’s in a big world. She has options. It’s a world that is open.” 

A child of the fifties himself, the designer says “for me, it’s the golden age of America. The American dream culminates in the ‘50s up to basically 1970, and after that for all kinds of reasons it gets messed up. But for now, it’s after the war, and the future is yours if you can take it.” 

Thats all part of the cultural background that sees Eilis growing up.  “She’s going to leave Ireland as a late teenager, a little mousy, a little unsure of herself, and she’s going to bloom and become a woman.”