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The Traitors Production Designer on Creating Peacock Series Setup – The Hollywood Reporter



Mathieu Weekes didn’t see himself turning into considered one of actuality TV’s most sought-after manufacturing designers when he started in present enterprise. The attention behind The Traitors (each the U.Okay. collection and the American reboot, which streams on Peacock) started his profession as a scenic carpenter, working his method as much as run crews after which a part of building administration. “And then I started to get the odd job where there was a bit of a crossover into art direction. From [that], I started to get my own design work,” he explains.

The London-based designer launched his personal firm, Bizibot, in 2012, “not necessarily wanting to become a design company, but being almost like a delivery company.” Weekes remembers of the movie and tv set and manufacturing design tasks that got here his method, “Someone would come with an idea, I would put a team together. They would have the IP, but I would deliver everything else. It almost morphed into the design company afterward.” 

Bizibot boasts a formidable roster of carpenters, administrators, scenic painters — Weekes gathered “like-minded people who had the same really high production values, just to do stuff really, really well.” He says he likes operating his personal firm as a result of “quite often production designers will design a set and then put it out to other construction companies to deliver it for them. I’ve got so much control to know that those finishes are right, that actually the end product I can have real control over, and push up those values because it’s my own company, which has proved really, really useful and [is] really rewarding for me.”

A research the place contestants document confessionals

His résumé boasts a formidable roster of high-profile actuality TV — Love Island and I’m a Celeb … Get Me Out of Right here!, to call two. “It wasn’t deliberate, it was just somewhere I found myself,” he explains. Most just lately, enterprise has introduced him to overseeing the look of The Traitors, a contest present within the type of the social gathering sport Mafia, the place contestants (a lot of them already actuality stars in their very own proper, together with Massive Brother’s Cody Calafiore, Beneath Deck’s Kate Chastain and Survivor: Panama’s Cirie Fields) are “murdered” by gamers secretly posing as “traitors” whereas staying at a spooky fortress and competing in bodily challenges. “When I watched the original Dutch version, I so desperately wanted to be involved,” Weekes remembers. “Not only is it a great format, but the scope for how it could look, in terms of that moody castle and that slightly sinister, dark vibe that goes with it — it really had my mouth watering from an early stage.”

Contestants at breakfast in the dining room with host Alan Cumming

Contestants at breakfast within the eating room with host Alan Cumming

Courtesy of Peacock

Ardross Fortress, in Ross-shire, Scotland, was the house base for each the British and American incarnations of the collection. “It’s such a strong location, I can’t believe that no other crew had ever been in there before us to film anything, just because it is so moody and so striking that it’s amazing we were the first to ever approach the owners to use it,” says Weekes. He was impressed by the movies Clue (“in terms of each [distinct] space — the library, the cocktail lounge”) and Rian Johnson’s Knives Out as he imagined methods to assemble the look of the collection. “The set dressing on [Knives Out] is to die for — it is just so exquisite, so beautifully placed. And that quite quirky modern palette, delivered in a very traditional setting. I really, really admired that film. It was like, ‘OK, I’m going to mix those two [movies] together as a starting point.’ Hopefully I did both those references proud.”

An enormous a part of the job was hiding all of the filming setups and digicam tools in an effort to preserve the fortress’s genuine medieval really feel. “It’s really important to me that the seam between what’s original architecture and what I’m adding [is] completely invisible,” says Weekes. “The less you see my hand as a designer, the more successful it is — certainly in terms of covering up the tech and the equipment for the show, and trying to come up with the most immersive space so that [contestants] are getting lost in it.”

The Armory

The Armory

A few of the main add-ons to the house concerned constructing a complete room inside the fortress to function the interview space, “so we have complete control over light and that camera shot locked off.” The Nice Corridor, the place contestants deliberated round a grand desk, was “probably covered by 12 cameras, and it’s [about] knowing where to hide those operators.” 

The present’s roundtable — a putting mix of roulette wheel and sundial — is a selected level of pleasure for Weekes: “It was one of those lovely, rare moments that you don’t get very often — I didn’t know [every] exact detail, and I didn’t quite know exactly the layout, but it was like, ‘I know what this has to look like,’ ” he explains. “Whereas other times you can be staring at the blank page for a long time, going nowhere. I really enjoyed that specific element. That set alone was so rewarding because it almost designed itself, which is rare and very refreshing.”

The library

The library

This story first appeared in a June stand-alone subject of The Hollywood Reporter journal. To obtain the journal, click on right here to subscribe.

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