Right, you never know what the future holds, especially because things change. So let’s talk about Second Act. At first glance, this isn’t a project I would associate with you given that you’ve done so many somber works like Twin Peaks, Dead Man Walking, and Girl Interrupted. But reading over your filmography reveals that you’ve actually worked on several comedies as well.
Those are interesting things. It’s a different world, partly because I needed the work, but it was also a lawful accident where I just got the gig. And comedies are a different trajectory- they’re less conceptual, less tonal, and less leady. I’ve found that you have to be very clear about the steps along the pathway visually. And it depends on what it is. Second Act, for example, was very realistic. I’ve been calling it a parable because it’s a story of a woman who makes a couple of mistakes and has to go back home to find her real second act, although she ends up thinking the second act is a bigger chance in the big city, and it’s sort of like her going back to her home base in Queens.
But you can create all sorts of ideas around that and intellectualize it. We had to deliver a version of Queens that was neighborhood and family-oriented and worth living in. We did elaborate and expand it bit, but we wanted to rebuild that world through locations and a couple of sets. And then, on the other side of it at that point, was Manhattan, which was suddenly what Manhattan is for everybody: overpriced and expensive with glass buildings and high up in the air and very technical. So those are the two things and, though it’s still a realistic film, it was pushed a bit, not extremely, but to get [Jennifer Lopez’s character] into a problem that she has to solve.
That makes a lot of sense, and I obviously haven’t seen the movie, but when I saw the trailer, I have to say I really enjoyed the use of multiple colors in the different sets. Whether it’s the old job, the new job, the skyscraper, the park, the apartment, it just looks so lively compared to some of your past works. What was your approach to the aesthetics?
A lot of films have controlled palettes. We did less control with Second Act. We had a clean world which wanted to be lively and warm and alive and not noir. It’s not dangerous. There was less discussion about all of that than one might imagine, but it was okay.
So I think color was important, and after all we also had our products to design in so called “organic.” I mean in the story, they say the word organic has been thrown around in products of late in the last few years, and it’s like what is organic?
That’s true, and I do think the colors you put in the film will help set it apart from the many other movies that are set in New York, cause it is a popular destination.
Yeah, it’s not an indictment, it’s more of a satire. But the color is real and I’m not sure what they did in the post with it, so we’ll have to see whether they enhanced it or not. For example the corporate office, we found one finally after great lengths that had some warmth in certain areas. Like it had wood paneling as opposed to white walls and things like that. These were choices that were made as we stumbled into them in a way. I mean there’s a process when you’re doing a film because you want something, but then you have to find it or make it and then you have find things that are accidentally “oh wow, look at that,” you know?
Right, and that ties back into what you guys were doing on Twin Peaks. As a final question, I’ve noticed you’ve done a lot of television pilots. You did Entourage, you did Numb3rs, you did Falling Skies. I’m wondering, does production design on pilots work the same as directing where they’ll bring in a big name in the industry to set the tone and the look for the rest of the series? Like they’ll have a major production designer set that for the rest of the show?
Yeah, though they want the designer to stay on, and sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s because of timing. If they’re doing a pilot and they don’t have an order, then you do it but not the series. Like with Falling Skies I was busy at the time and couldn’t go back to Toronto. And so, the designers are hired to, with the director in a pilot, to really frame it with the writers and producers at that point and get it figured out visually.
Okay, that’s kind of what I figured.
Yeah, that’s what happens, it’s like you’re doing a mini-feature.
That’s a great way of putting it, especially given how big television budgets are these days. They really are like mini-movies.
Oh they are movies. Sometimes it’s faster, but they are movies.
Well thank you once again Mr. Hoover for taking the time to speak with me.
No problem, no problem, anytime.
Flickering Myth would like to thank Mr. Hoover for sitting down with us. Second Act is set for release on December 21st, 2018.
Special thanks to Charles Martin and Andrea Resnick of Impact 24 PR for making the interview possible!