How ‘Joker’ Production Designer and Costume Designer Brought New Color to a Familiar World

Variety | 11/11/2019 | Jazz Tangcay
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The partnership between a film’s production designer and costume designer is an important one. One creates the outfits and the look of the character, the other creates the world that the viewer disappears into. Together, they collaborate to reinforce the visuals of the film. Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a world where production designer Mark Friedberg and costume designer Mark Bridges’ partnership was pivotal. For Friedberg, he’d been working with Phillips early to find the perfect location for the gritty and grimy Gotham City. New York 2019 is starkly different from the New York of the ’70s, so Friedberg’s search extended to Newark.

The two Marks were inspired by an old car book to form the basis of their color palette. In “Joker” it’s Bridge’s costumes that change to reflect Arthur’s journey and not the production design palette since, as Friedberg explains, “it’s him that changes.”

Gotham - Square - Newark

Finding Gotham Square in Newark:

Friedberg: When I first agreed to do this movie, Todd was still figuring out the region we were in. New York is quite different today to what it was back then.

Photos - New - York - '70s - Movie

When you look back on photos of New York in the ’70s, they don’t look real, they look stylized. We wanted the movie to feel like it was all shot on location. In a weird way, we wanted the movie to feel like it was low tech and low budget in the way that “Taxi Driver” was. For the first two months of the job, I started way early because that’s how Todd likes to do it. It was just Todd and me in a car for a while.

There’s just not a lot of that part of New York anymore because it’s been spruced, cleaned and scrubbed. There is certainly still that poverty and that’s where we started. Ultimately, we picked our...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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