It’s not just because she’s been labeled the “production designer of the moment” by a weekly entertainment trade magazine or because the Wright State University grad has major responsibility for Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
“You’ll see pink in almost everything I do,” Beachler told the standing-room-only crowd that filled a WSU Creative Arts Center auditorium in December, when she was in town to talk about her work and to share advice with performing arts students. “When your audience is expecting you to go in one direction, I go in another. I like to put pink in places you wouldn’t expect to find it, like masculine settings or a bathroom. I also do blue and yellow. You’ll see a lot of blue and yellow in ‘Panther.’”
The choice of colors you’ll see in a film is just one of Beachler’s responsibilities. She’s one of three key people — along with the director and cinematographer — who are integral to the film. She has a hand in designing the movie’s overall look and transporting theater audiences to the environment that will help advance the story — whether that’s a musician’s home studio, a BART train in California or a boxing gym.
“It’s forcing the viewer to see things in a certain way,” she says. “Production design is what everything else bounces off of — it’s architecture, it’s color palette and it’s everything in the room. I’m the first one hired after the director and first one on the job after the director. I work with producers, cinematographer, costume design and visual effects.” As the head of her department, she may be supervising five to 500 people, depending on the film’s budget.