AMA! Marie Jach - Production Design


(Marie Jachimoicz) #1

Hi, I’m MJ! I’m a freelance Production Designer in LA, with a body of work that includes a pretty wide range: digital series, branded content, television, and feature films. My very first gig was in 2011 as an Art PA on ABC’s Wipeout. It was a big budget, major network challenge-reality show that taught me a broad skill set which I’ve carried with me into my work in smaller budget narrative content: basic construction, foam sculpting, driving a scissor lift in the rain, using a screw gun while wearing mittens, and the importance of having a sharpie at all times (AT ALL TIMES!). Since then, I’ve Production Designed digital content for Disney Online, Fullscreen, GSN’s Door 3, and my first feature, American Folk, was released last week. My team is currently in pre-production with HLG Studios for a web series called Binge, which is very near and dear to my heart. You can see links to most of that stuff on my website! mariejach.com

Life as a freelancer in any field isn’t easy, but being a freelance art person in digital media can be especially difficult. Even if you’re incredibly talented and hard working, sometimes it can feel like being in one of those money-catching booths on an old game show. But, not only are you up against the clock, the lights are off, you’re covered in goo, and you’ve had nothing but string cheese to eat for five hours. So, over the last 8 years, I’ve learned a lot about how to navigate life on set and those slow time freelance blues, while building a network of awesome collaborators, and a crew that I love and trust.

ASK ME ANYTHING about any of those things… OR:

  • Being a female department head
  • How to turn a penny into a dime and look like a million bucks
  • When to say no
  • Dealing with your inner critic
  • Kit organization. I LOVE talking about how to organize kits.
  • The difference between a PD and an Art Director and a Set Dec and a DP. (A lot of people don’t know and that’s okay!)
  • How to negotiate your day rate without seeming or feeling like a jerk.
  • Anything that might be so dumb or awkward, you could only ask a total stranger on a public forum.

We've got an AMA for that!
(Bri Castellini) #2

Hey Marie! Thanks so much for being here!! First question… When did you get into filmmaking/ the film industry, and into digital series in particular?


(sam lockie-waring) #3

yes yes hell yes finally a production designer. hey marie! what is your design process? what do you start with… the script, the idea, the space, and how do you build on it?


(Bri Castellini) #4

@alwaysafilmgeek @ghettonerdgirl @OSTSG @barbaramcthomas @afbarbag @dj_tilney @ronVceo @movieguyjon @mintypineapple @SnobbyRobot @filmwritr4 @idgafwebseries @ZackMorrison18 @mkatiehunter @DarekKowal @Brad_Riddell @RDRICCI @Offbeat @whoisjonporter @jonathankyall @JonSosis @shrutesnladders @Ian_David_Diaz


(Yuri Baranovsky) #5

On a scale from great to the greatest, where does Yuri Baranovsky stand on your “director’s to work with” list?


(Marie Jachimoicz) #6

Hi Bri! Thanks so much for having me! I got into the film industry in 2013 as an Art Director on a feature called the Axe Murders of Villisca. After that, I stumbled into Production Design and the digital community by making content for a youtube channel called ilovemakeup. We did these really fun, silly shows with influencers like Lilly Singh and Grace Helbig when they were kind of first starting out.


(Bri Castellini) #7

So did you go to school for film or design, or did you just start trying to get work?


(Joseph Steven Heath) #8

Can you expand on that penny into a dime bullet point? What can one do when one has little to no budget?


(Meg Carroway) #9

I’d love to learn more about being a female department head! Have you had issues in that area?


(sam lockie-waring) #10

what would you say is your personal aesthetic/signature when it comes to production design? what’s consistent about the looks you design even if they’re for totally different projects, or is there anything consistent? how do you stay true to your own design interests and preferences for different projects?


(Marie Jachimoicz) #11

Ah! Great question! Oh man, it really depends on the project, and the director. Sometimes I’ll come on board and everyone will be like, “all the locations are locked and here’s your budget and the director has already chosen the color palette.” But… typically, or should I say, ideally… I read the scripts first, then meet with the director to get a sense of their vision, then we look at spaces together and figure out how we can make it all work within the budget. I like to do mood boards and mockups when I can, but a lot of times there just isn’t room in the prepro schedule for that, so we just all have to talk it out and hope we can communicate our collaborative ideas clearly.


(Jessi Almstead) #12

Hi Marie! Your CV is quite impressive! Thanks for being here!

What advice do you have for a career changer coming from the education world to web series production, who wants to write and make things for a living but has no industry contacts? (And didn’t go to film or art school)


(Jaime Lancaster) #13

Hi Marie! Welcome to the forum! Have you noticed things that amateur filmmakers (specifically on digital projects) tend to do with production design that you wish they’d stop? Things that you notice over and over that you wish you could just tell them to not do?


(Marie Jachimoicz) #14

When Yuri calls, I usually let it go to voicemail, so I can find out what the project is first… then decide if the money is good enough to put up with his on set personality.


(sam lockie-waring) #15

what do your mood boards look like/ how do you tend to try and communicate visually with someone that doesn’t have as strong of an artistic background?


(Anna Bateman) #16

I’m definitely one of the ignorant ones who has no idea what the difference between all the art department roles are, so… please define them! PD, Art Director, Set Dec, etc :slight_smile: And thanks for being here!


(Meg Carroway) #17

Oh man Sam is so excited about you guys finally getting a production designer for an AMA :joy:


(sam lockie-waring) #18

so psyched i might even use capital letters. time will tell. but yes this is dope thank you so much @Mjach and @Bri_Castellini @stareable


(Marie Jachimoicz) #19

It’s a funny story, really. I graduated from UCLA with an art degree in 2009, and the recession was really bad so I was bartending. A friend called one day and asked if I wanted to Art PA on Wipeout and I said, “Not really, but okay.” I had zero interest or experience or understanding of the industry art world. So, I interviewed, and the Art Director didn’t hire me because I had no background. He said, “We do a lot of building and hard work, you know, we work with band saws and I need someone who knows how a TV show works. Sorry, and good luck.” A few hours later I CALLED HIM BACK to say that I had the skill set and I knew how to run a band saw and could I have a chance? He said yes. I hung up the phone, opened my laptop and googled “What is a band saw.” Showed up on set the next day at 6am in Santa Clarita and after 12 hours I knew I never wanted to do anything else.


(Bri Castellini) #20

Best. Story. Ever.