Emily Chomuik, Production Designer, Art Director Shares Career Development
Emily Chomuik Exclusive Interview
Samantha Kolesnik: Tell us about what you do in horror.
Emily Chomuik: My role varies depending on the project- I’ve done everything from designing sets to propping, and SFX. I’m also in process of writing my own horror feature, which I’m very excited about.
Samantha Kolesnik: What is the best part about creating art in the horror genre?
I love juxtaposing elements of beauty and disgust; making sets almost ‘talk’ to one another like the characters do, using contrasting styles and background elements.
Some of the most effective horror films have balanced being beautiful and disgusting perfectly. A gorgeous home where terrible things happen- that contrast begets the foundational elements of horror.
Aunt Mei’s apartment in the Chinese film Dumplings is maybe my favorite example of this. The colors and textures are very real, yet somehow unsettling right off the bat. And then you find out what happens in there, and it clicks.
When we juxtapose that set with Mrs. Li’s, you really feel the unspoken desperation that drives home the soul of the story. That’s great set design. That whole film really is so beautiful, and consistent thematically. I’d love to work on a film like that one day.
Samantha Kolesnik: Someone comes up to you and says they’re about to make their first film ever. What would you tell them?
1- Treat your crew well! People who feel appreciated will work harder for you every time.
2- Don’t expect perfection. Locations will fail, things will break, and anything that can go wrong will. Some of the best creative work I’ve seen and done has been a solution to a last minute problem; and it’s usually better than the original idea!
3- Know your strengths and weaknesses and delegate appropriately. You’re already undertaking a lot making your first film- have some people help you out! Nobody will judge you for not handling EVERYTHING, and you’ll have more fun when you’re not drowning.
Samantha Kolesnik: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your horror career?
Emily Chomuik: I’ve had to learn how to fail gracefully. Not meeting my own standards was terrifying at first. I used to beat myself up if my work wasn’t perfect, even if it still looked great to other people. I’ve ruined a few days for myself that way. Now, I take every scene as a fresh start, and any mistakes made are chances to learn a new technique for next time.
Samantha Kolesnik: What are your horror plans for 2018?
Emily Chomuik: I’m really hoping to finish my feature script this year and shop it around a bit. I’m also planning on perfecting my blood recipes and experimenting with hot pour vinyl to make some really disgusting props.
Samantha Kolesnik: Name one or more other #womeninhorror who have inspired, helped, or motivated you along the way.
Emily Chomuik: I can’t not mention you, Sam. I’ve really enjoyed working with you. I always feel like my vision is respected and have gotten to learn and grow so much on your sets. Plus, we have the same sick sense of humor, which is rare in most people, let alone other women 🙂
Artistic inspirations from the last two years I have to mention also:
Karyn Kusama, she directed The Invitation. One of the most visually perfect horror films to me. It’s truly gorgeous.
Hannah Beachler also. She’s a great example of someone who can do anything; I’d love to work for her someday. That’s the dream.