When Candace approached me about designing her film, then titled "Units", I didn't flinch and without hesitation, accepted without seeing a script or hearing any ideas. I know Candace well enough by now that pretty much any idea that pops into her head is brilliant so, duh, yeah I want to be a part of that!
Also, her film dealt with a kind of fantasy world in the post-apocalyptic era: a designer's dream! I can make up what I think this world should be like! With cooperation and collaboration of course, but it wasn't another Orange County living room set, ya know? Wonderful! I was imagining aging concrete walls with black who-knows-what in the cracks and lots of dripping pipes, metal, old technology that burnt out, and lots of light bulbs hanging by themselves. After lots of meetings, I think Candace understood that I was inside her head and was definitely going to take care of her idea so she pretty much let me have free reign; again, another designer's dream!
Ultimately, The City of Lights is all those things I mentioned; lost or leftover technology, lots of junk, metal, light bulbs, things rotting, etc. I didn't want the film to feel comfortable. Almost everything has a hard edge or a sharp edge except for Megs's bed (which still looks questionable), Megs's curly curvy hair (because she is our main character!), and the light bulbs which represent a variety of things from ideas to hope to the remainders of the past generation. Honestly, we really just liked how cool they looked, but there is subtext behind them, too! To contrast this hard environment, I laid down warm colors for the walls. This kind of terracotta color doesn't make the environment feel warm, but it does make it feel locked down and safe: hidden away.
I opted for cool metal colors with bits of rust (a warm tone) to contrast those walls...it should make you feel (subconsciously) uncomfortable or on edge viewing warm and cool hard surfaces next to one another. This is the reason why I made the front door copper. It's still a hard metal but the copper tone gives it a warm color temperature and also makes it stand out from the rest of the doors. Sometimes, there's also that voice in my head that just says, "yeah that looks right" and that door definitely looked right when it was done.
-Katie, Production Designer