Production designer and great friend Molly Burgess worked with us for many months to perfect our physical look and style. She's written a great piece about that process, check it out below.
For production design, we wanted to go with a retro, 70's and 80's sci-fi feel rather than a shiny and polished modern one. With references such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, and Solaris, the vision for the design was ambitious. However, one of my favorite parts was how serendipitously the largest challenges resolved themselves. For instance, our original sketches for how we envisioned the consoles, loosely inspired by the octagonal designs in 2001, looked like this:
Since the shape was so unique and the consoles so large, our initial impulse was to figure out how to construct them ourselves and fill them with salvaged electronics that (ideally) still worked. We had begun the search for the necessary pieces and were in the process of making blueprints for construction when a chance conversation on a flight (apparently Solaris is not your typical in-flight entertainment), led to a big turning point. My seat mate encouraged me to check out Modern Props, an LA prop house devoted to items in the retro/sci-fi/space age genre (though you wouldn't immediately discern that from their descriptive motto "where things are"). It was there we met these guys:
All the monitors and lights were functioning, the shape exactly matched our sketches, I had chills. Suddenly, the most stressful problem of that moment had been resolved with a tiny paper hold tag. Before that, I had been faced with the decision of whether or not to sacrifice the angles in our design for ease of construction which would have resulted in a much different interior. By using the angled consoles as planned, the entire interior space serves to direct the focus to the lens, the piece of the spaceship of primary importance. Here they are in the film, looking at home in the rest of the set we constructed, bracketing our main character and his mission:
While it would have been awesome to watch the final film and say that we multi-handedly built everything ourselves, there's been something really nice about physically borrowing from the visual language of what had been done before us, just as we were doing theoretically anyway. Plus, it's really fun to keep the Telescope email thread going as we continue to report prop sightings in other films. So far our favorite has been Terminator 3. Now, we get to add Telescope to that same visual history, in whatever small way linked to "HAL" and Kubrick, astronauts and Arnold.