fail Follow Loki for episodes 1-5.
From Wakanda to Xander in Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU is increasingly defined by the extravagant fictional locations they show us on-screen. It will come as no surprise to learn that bringing these places to life is a massive collaboration between a lot of talented people — and for Loki on Disney Plus, which releases its final episode this week, pretty much everywhere We’ve seen in the last five episodes that there’s a place that doesn’t really exist.
From the opulent offices of the Time Variance Authority to the planet of cyberpunk-infused Lamantis-1 in 2077, it has taken us on an extraordinary tour of different times and places in the Marvel universe — and the work it took to make it all happen. The level is huge.
“It might be helpful for you to hear that this project is truly phenomenal and that each episode basically represents, in my opinion, the amount of world building you would normally do on a Marvel movie, for the most part. for,” the show’s production designer Kasra Farahani told Nerdshala. “So that’s a huge amount of work, which is [why] We were on this project for so long.”
Farahani has been helping shape the look of the MCU for more than a decade, thanks to Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Black Panther and Captain Marvel under his belt. So when he says that each episode of Loki takes as much effort as an entire MCU movie, he knows what he’s talking about.
We ask Farahani to define what a production designer does on a project like Loki. “So as a production designer, you are in a way responsible – in the early stages – of distilling the words on the page into a series of generic conceptual imagery that the entire support team can respond to and comment on. . And through an iterative process like this, you arrive at what is the conceptual kind of roadmap to see this story in the different worlds that you have to build.”
First of all, it is creating the visual basis for everything we are about to see on screen.
“And then the second phase of that becomes the process of taking those conceptual designs and translating them into a series of plans—either a literal plan to build a set or a plan to integrate with visual effects to make things happen.”
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When we think of Loki’s production design, it’s those lovely TVA hallways that come to mind. As the location where Loki is detained at the beginning of the series, it feels simultaneously in a real place and time – like it’s a 1960s office forever, even though the location works. Everyone who does is controlling the concept of time automatically.
Making a TVA is the first thing we wanted to ask Farhani about. “It was a dream job. The original brief, in a very brief way, described the look of TVA as Blade Runner meets Mad Men, which was a very provocative description. And then in a discussion with Kate [Herron], our director, in my initial meeting with him before we met, we had a lot of similar references – a lot of which involved Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, because I think there was a very important missing element to it, which was chronology. and heavy presence of bureaucracy; A kind of monolithic, uncompromising bureaucracy.”
Pop culture influence was one thing, but the personal experiences of both Farahani and British director Kate Heron also shaped what TVA HQ would look like on screen. “So, the Brutalist architecture near the urban areas where Kate grew up, the mid-century modern institutional architecture that populates the entire west coast of the United States where I grew up — these kind of mid-century, institutional influences were a big part of that.” [the TVA]. And it contrasts that with the warm and whimsical palettes of some of the more light versions of mid-century modernism, almost paradoxically, so it’s the last part where the Mad Men influence comes in.
Destroying a Science-Fiction City
Loki Episode 3 memorably sees the destruction of Sharu, a city on Lamantis-1 – one of many end-of-world scenarios where Sylvie is hiding from TVA’s grasp. Farahani highlights it as one of the more challenging places to bring to life, and is an example of how intense collaboration makes magic come true.
“Episode 3 – which takes place on Lamantis-1 – had a lot going on in terms of interacting with the virtual environment and our physical environment, probably more than any other episode, because our show was so overwhelming. [made with] Made the set and done it in camera,” Farhani says.
“For example, Sharu at the end of episode 3, we built that set up to facilitate a complete 360-degree one,” he says. In case it is not clear from the context, ‘owner’ refers to a long shot that appears to have no cut to the viewer.
“So everything above 16 feet is a prescribed extension, but everything Below which was in-camera. That sequence, especially because it was supposed to be a virtual one, had a lot of choreography and planning in working with Autumn. [Durald], our cinematographer, Richard Graves, our assistant director, Monique Ganderton, our stunt coordinator, and of course Kate, to figure out the exact locations of the stitches, to prepare the scenes, and the special effects — explosions and that kind of thing. things – to facilitate the editorial needs of hiding it.”
The end result is a tall and impressive effect—the massive shot of actors Tom Hiddleston and Sofia Di Martino watching a city destroy all around them—that far exceeds what we’d expect from regular TV shows in terms of scale and detail. Clearly, this is what Farahani meant by making each episode feel like a movie.
Not everything on the series is described in full on paper by the writers – Farahani describes the location of Episode 5’s bowling alley as a void, an area in Loki Palace, where production design can fill in the blank. “In Episode 5, Loki Palace From a design standpoint, it was something that was a lot of fun, but it was one of the few things that was in place for a while and a few iterations of the script for it to come. And In the end, the art department had enough license to arrive at that design.
“The script called for a temple, but didn’t say much, so we arrived at this idea of a bowling alley that was one of many things in the void — these unusual things that would have been removed from time, if they existed. Had it been allowed, they would have caused some rift in the timeline.”
This dilapidated bowling alley is characterized by exotic plants growing through it, among many notable resorts – and it was all carefully considered.
“The way things work in a vacuum, they get dumped in there — Alioth eats them up,” Farahani says. “And then time goes by – and things get dumped on them. So you create a sense of this level and topography. And so the idea was that they got to have this still habitable, but very precarious bowling alley from the middle. This cave will be found – the century was underground, and they occupied it. We hit it with a lot of different things that you can see: alien vines from a different reality that were removed from this bowling alley Rising through, happened to fall to the side. There are layers and layers of detail. And sometimes they come through in photography, and sometimes they don’t.”
Farahani mentions a detail of the Loki Palace that is there, but not necessarily easy to spot in the episode – the bowling alley has a display of wall photographs of star players, and they are not quite human. It shows how much thought is put into these minute details that only appear briefly on-screen, which means a lot to Marvel fans who eat these shows and movies.
Lastly, we can’t resist asking Farahani for a teaser about this week’s final episode – the one location in Loki episode 6 we know is some kind of mansion castle, where we saw Loki and Sylvie in the episode. Saw it at the end of 5. “All I can say is keep watching,” Farhani says. “And I think I think the fans will really like what’s coming next.”
Loki is available now on Disney Plus, and the final episode will release on July 14.
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