Interview with William Hunter, art director for 'The Avengers'

Comics / Interview - 26 April 2019 08:30

William Hunter is art director for “The Avengers”.

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Interview with William Hunter,  art director for The Avengers (2012).

How would you describe your experience on “The Avengers”? What aspects of the movie do you value most?

My career leading up to “The Avengers” was already an experience of a lifetime.  I had faced so many challenges on the biggest scale.  At least I thought it was the biggest scale. I had not experienced anything quite like this yet. To be asked to be an integral part of this enormous movie was humbling and exciting. Never before had a studio tried to incorporate so many franchises.  The time was not enough, the budgets were not enough and the visual narrative was unknown.  How exciting! This is what I live for.  

You were the art director, which aspects of the movie did you focus on?

I had within my responsibility a large chunk of the movie. I helped develop and design everything from Stark Tower (both the interior and the exterior), the underbelly of the Helicarrier, Banner's Lab on the Helicarrier, the exploded engine on the Helicarrier, the city streets of Berlin (which we shot in Cleveland, Ohio), and Loki's appearance at the SHIELD facility at the beginning of the movie. 

How did you get to the final result?

I am very proud of the work we did. When you have no time and are worried about your resources going far enough to meet the demands of the story, then you need to rely heavily on the people around you.  You have to pull out the best work from the people working with you. You have to trust your instincts and have the courage to push boundaries. 

What were the main difficulties you encountered while shooting the film? The visual aspect is a key element: how did you make your sets exactly like you wanted them to be?

Filmmaking is "controlled chaos." You have to be willing to take risks and trust the plan you have laid out in front of you.  It is sometimes very difficult to remind yourself of just that. On “The Avengers” time was not on our side. We had to build very large sets quicker than any of us thought possible. That is hard enough. But then, you have to make color choices, design all the details, and lay out the sets to be shot in a certain way. All this, and you still need to make a huge impression.  No pressure, right?  The color choices all come from the tone of the visual story being set by the Production Designer. After we know what the tone and direction are, we start to make choices that visually excite the eye, and to design details so that they follow the tone of the story.

Can you share with us a funny episode that happened during filming? 

We were lucky enough to get permission to shoot at the largest vacuum chamber in the world in Sandusky, Ohio.  This is part of NASA.  When we first arrived, all we wanted to do was talk about the 122 feet tall, 4 foot thick aluminum-walled vacuum chamber, with 100 feet tall doors that take 20 minutes to close.  All that the folks at NASA wanted to talk about was superheroes.  Here we are, at one of the most impressive facilities built in history, and we keep getting questions about Iron Man and Black Widow.  

What do you think of the movie Avengers: Infinity War?

It is exciting for me to finally see the culmination of all this work. It has been a long time coming.  I am very proud that I got to play a part in making cinematic history. Any time you can do something for the first time and not fail, you will always have a soft spot for all the work that follows after you. I wish Marvel and all those who work on these movies great success. Their success is mine.  

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