Production designer Merijn Sep

His website promises ‘décor à la carte’. So what’s on the menu for top Flemish production designer Merijn Sep?

HOW DID YOU TRAIN?
I studied art. I had a very vocational education with practical courses on how to paint scenery - that kind of thing.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
My first big credit as a set builder was Shades, a Flemish movie with Mickey Rourke. But the international co-productions started after Parade’s End. With every project you get new colleagues who show you different ways of doing things. It was a very rewarding experience working with [Parade’s End production designer] Martin Childs and his team.

IS IT DIFFERENT WORKING WITH CREWS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES?
It’s all about breaking the ice and finding a good way to share and especially to communicate. But the structural organisation can be different each time. When I worked with the French, I had many deep discussions about everything; with a German crew, they can be very attached to their structure; and the English always have a Plan B!

HOW DID YOU SET ABOUT RECREATING EMILY DICKINSON’S HOUSE IN A STUDIO FOR A QUIET PASSION?
Instead of chopping up the whole house and having the studio filled with different sets, I chose to keep the basic layout. We enlarged it between 10% and 15% to make it practical for shooting a movie. In the 1850s, Americans were really trying to create their own feel of what an interior should be like. That is something we spent a lot of energy trying to get right.


A Quiet Passion

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO DATE?
For Storm Force, we built a Sea King helicopter which could be hoisted in the air on a crane and have all the walls taken out… We provided them with something multi-functional which looked good as well. Parade’s End was also very impressive due to the size of the project.
And, of course, what I’m working on now, Iron Sky: The Coming Race, we’ve been building spaceships and strange sets in the AED studios close to Antwerp: there are no fantasy limits on this production!


Set of Iron Sky: The Coming Race at the AED Studios © Tomi Tuuliranta

 

Merijn Sep *

  • 2017 Iron Sky: The Coming Race
  • 2015 Les Cowboys
  • 2015 A Quiet Passion
  • 2015 Me & Kaminski
  • 2014 The Missing I
  • 2014 Labyrinthus
  • 2013 Los Flamencos
  • 2012 Parade’s End
  • 2011 North Sea Texas
  • 2006 Nightshift

* selected filmography