How often do you really look at what’s going on in the physical space of a scene? Whether you realize it or not, every object has a purpose and must be accounted for. This is thanks to the film’s production designer. They are responsible for the entire physical design of a shot; from that couch and lamp to the dirt-stains on a window, their creative fingerprints are everywhere. Sometimes they even get in the way of the perfect shot. Maybe a pillow ruins the sense of symmetry, or a table needs to be moved in order to fit in the frame. Perhaps a couch has to be propped up for a medium shot, and then lowered for the cinematographer to make a close-up work. Other times, a huge kitchen counter might hinder the movement of two actors, driving director Martin Scorsese insane. Such was the case in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. In this video, we take a look at one of the movie’s funniest scenes, and how the film’s production designer took what might have been a big problem, and transformed it into a blessing in disguise.

Production design on the brain? Check out our video on designing emotion in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie. If you’d rather stick with Scorsese, take a look beyond his production designer and explore the work of his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and, while you’re here, check out our video about the director’s fascination with religion.