Oral Histories

Interview of Keith Barrett

Production designer with credits that include Lost in Translation, Her, and Where the Wild Things Are.
The Crafts in Hollywood: Production Design
Film and Television
Biographical Note:
Production designer with credits that include Lost in Translation, Her, and Where the Wild Things Are.
Collings, Jane
Barrett, Keith
Persons Present:
Barrett and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Barrett's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Barrett was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
2.25 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series of interviews was undertaken in collaboration with the Art Directors Guild. Its aim is to document the lives and work of Guild members and staff who have made a significant contribution to film and television history. Interviews capture the work of title artists, set designers, art directors, production designers, and many other categories. The contribution of labor unions in shaping the conditions of the work is also addressed.
Grows up in Missouri and Oklahoma--Early interest in music and art--Explores second-hand stores while growing up in Tulsa--Attends Oklahoma State University as an art major--Forms a band with college housemates--Works as a carpenter back home during the summers--Forms band, The Screamers--Builds recording studio for filming music projects from an arts perspective--Completes first film, Population: 1--Runs an after-hours music club--Starts doing animation for commercials--Gets involved in making horror movie Blood Diner, a remake of the Herschell Gordon Lewis film Blood Feast--Works on Bloody Pompoms--Works in commercials, exploring new materials and forms--Begins work on Being John Malkovich--The settings express the theme of claustrophobia--Finds union work classifications confining--Considers work on Adaptation as an opportunity to do reality-based design--Works with Michel Gondry on the Charlie Kaufman script-based Human Nature--Considers best work to be that for Lost in Translation and Her--For Marie Antoinette designed a world as it would be seen by a teenage girl--More on Lost in Translation and Her--Approach to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--The value of working in commercials as a training ground--The importance of watching a film with a theater audience--Design decisions for Her--Design decisions for Where the Wild Things Are.