[BTM EXCLUSIVE!] We Interview the Senior Matte Painter for Baz Luhrmann’s THE GREAT GATSBY

The Great Gatsby in Theaters Today

The Great Gatsby in Theaters Today

Amidst all the excitement of the latest Great Gatsby film by Baz Luhrmann, Beyond the Marquee’s own Allison Tate-Cortese had a chance to talk to one of the artists responsible for building the incredible opulent world of the latest revamp of this classic American story. Luca Gabriele Rossetti is a Senior Matte Painter and Environmental Artist on the film and has previously worked on the visual effects on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Snow White and the Huntsman and the recent renvisioning of  Total Recall and has now had his hand in building the fantastic jazz age world that Nick, Gatsby and Daisy live in. Click ahead to check out our exclusive interview with the man who built Gatsby’s New York City!



Gatsby's New York City

Gatsby’s New York City


BTM: What was it like working on a film of this scope and scale?

LUCA: It was very challenging, because imagine that you have to rebuild New York City from scratch! That was basically our job, to use our extensive library of 3-D assests and research material to learn the layout and try to match the reality for how it looked in the 20’s. Designing the city was a very meticulous research of material, we designed basically what we saw in the pictures and didn’t try to invent it. So for example it took two months to build the layout of the final city that you see before approval and matte painting began.


BTM: So clearly a lot of effort was taken to reach an authenticity for the film, yet the vision for the film is hyper stylized, so how did you strike that balance while building the various environments of this era?

LUCA: Because we worked to recreate the architecture as close to reality as possible, I would say 75-80% of what you see is pretty exactly how it was. But we did have some freedom to experiment, so it was interesting to do so mostly in details around the city, billboards or water towers and especially the sky. We could emphasize was the mood, the style, and the colors of the environment. We saturated the colors a lot, focusing on making it bright, refreshing and energized.


New York City and the Ziegfeld Theater as see in The Great Gatsby

New York City and the Ziegfeld Theater as see in The Great Gatsby



BTM: Considering 80% of the project was built in CGI, talk about the conception of the city and the world you and your team were working to build.

LUCA: Well I was working with the Art Director a lot who had lots of concepts already but mostly about the mansion, the villa, and all the landscapes there however, there was nothing, no real concepts for the city itself. So the best thing we did was to recollect as many old photographs as we could and imagine the city from many different points of view and build it for the scenes to come in them.


BTM: Any other shots you found to be a challenge to work on?

LUCA: I worked on another shot that was very interesting, it was the main Villa, the mansion of Gatsby, and that was not done the same way because we had the model of the Villa but then painted everything on top.


BTM: So not only did you build an entire city but you were responsible for painting Gatsby’s mansion too?! Wow!

LUCA: (Laughs) Yes I was responsible for that with the rest of the team


The Great Gatsby Movie House

The Great Gatsby’s Mansion


BTM: What was the daily workflow like on a film of this size for you and your team?

LUCA: Every day we would get dailies and work with the supervisor to see what would be changes needed to be made immediately, which building to be taken out here, added there and then would get to work. Basically the whole 3-D layout was build first in Maya and then you build your painting in Photoshop we would mix that with the lighting that we would design as well, we really built everything and then we could re-project all of this very quickly in compositing. It was a challenge because we did everything from scratch but it was amazing! Then every Friday we would have screenings and get to see all the final work from the week, and sometimes the editor would make some funny alternative edits for the private screenings inside the studio that were very fun for us (Laughs)


BTM: As an artist on this film what could you point out for viewers that we might not otherwise know about the visuals in the film.

LUCA: Hmm well there is a very fantastic sky behind the city that is very much hand-painted by me haha. Basically all the skies are repainted by hand. I’m not sure if you know this but in Australia (where the VFX studio was) they have the best skies in the world… they are like looking at oil paintings so we used a lot of that inspiration for Gatsby, so that’s why when you watch the movie it will be amazing!


Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby


BTM: Of the recent projects over the years you’ve worked on, would you rate this as one of the more enjoyable to have been a part of?

LUCA: Oh yes, I’m proud to have been involved really, because artistically and technically it was difficult to make, and the movie is such a good movie, and its not just about visual effects, its about the strong story and I’m proud to have been there because of the atmosphere, the project itself and the people.


BTM: What can we expect from this updated reimagining of Gatsby?

LUCA: In my opinion its not a reinterpretation about the story of Gatsby and Fitzgerald, but there is a very new and exciting kind of style in the movie. Talking about the mood, its obviously very fresh, the colors are bold and not dramatic but trying to be bold and beautiful, and enjoyable to watch so you see these scenes and think wow that’s amazing! It is made for the new generation, so they tried to refresh the look, the style, the atmosphere surrounding the story but not the story itself.


And now we all have the opportunity to see and enjoy the marvelous world Luca worked to create so go take in the luxurious visuals and timeless narrative of The Great Gatsby in theatres today!




You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress