Joseph Jennings

Production Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Joseph Jennings reminisces about his early interest in design, building scenery for local theater groups in college. He talks about his work in the 1950s as a set designer at Warner Bros., working on feature films and programs including Maverick. He speaks of his move to CBS television, where he worked on series including The Wild, Wild West and Gunsmoke. He goes into great detail describing the craft of working as an art director for television. Jennings discusses his involvement on the original Star Trek series, and his work on the proposed revival for the series, Star Trek: Phase II. Finally, he details his work on many groundbreaking miniseries, including Roots, Shogun, and Space, and concludes by giving advice to aspiring art directors. Henry Coleman conducted the interview on October 17, 2002 in Universal City, CA.

"On a well organized set, everybody knows his job and does it. You have to be entrepreneurial about it and take responsibility for it. There's only a certain amount you can go to school and learn. The rest of it, you've got to get out there, get your feet wet."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Joseph Jennings on the biggest challenges of preparing for a show as an art director and on doing art direction for science fiction shows including Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West starring Robert Conrad
Joseph Jennings on planning the art direction for the first "Star Trek" feature film
Joseph Jennings on working with the other art directors at CBS Television City, and the differences between art directors working in film and those working in live television or video taped television 
Joseph Jennings on being accurate with his art direction including on North and South
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on how his family dealt with the Great Depression; on his activities during World War II
On the first time he saw television and his early feelings about the medium; on his life after World War II and becoming a junior set designer at Warner Bros.; on doing set design for various feature films at Warner Bros.
On making the transition from art direction of features to television; on working in the television department at Warner Bros. and supervising the art direction of the various shows

Chapter 2

On acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West starring Robert Conrad; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on going to work as an art director at CBS Studio Center
On working on various features as lead set designer and the duties of a lead set designer; on his duties as assistant art director; on difficult situations he's faced as assistant art director
On working with the other art directors at CBS Television City, and the differences between art directors working in film and those working in live television or video taped television; on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West

Chapter 3

On being accurate with his art direction including on North and South; on acting as art director for Gunsmoke, and dealing with that show's transition from black and white to color
On the challenges of being art director for Gunsmoke; on working with the producers of Gunsmoke; on dealing with the height of James Arness who played "Matt Dillon" on Gunsmoke
On Gunsmoke's shooting schedule and the handling of the show's sets; on working on the Gunsmoke reunion

Chapter 4

On the functions and responsibilities of an art director; on the difference between a production designer and an art director
On the duties of a set designer and on the duties of a set decorator; on the relationship between the director and the art director
On the mechanics of preparing for a show as an art director; on the biggest challenges of preparing for a show as an art director and on doing art direction for science fiction shows including Star Trek

Chapter 5

On planning the art direction for the first "Star Trek" feature film; on how the transition to color impacted the work of the art director, and on dealing with lighting; on art directors working with sound designers and on working with the director of photography 
On safety guidelines and on government codes that had to be followed for art directors; on the art director's involvement in location scouting; on deciding on shooting on location or shooting in a studio
On helping with art direction for Gilligan's Island; on acting as art director for Star Trek

Chapter 6

On working within the constraints of Star Trek's budget and on memorable designs and episodes for Star Trek; on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots; on planning the sets for Roots and on the production of Roots
On selecting locations for Roots and on the special effects for the show; on the great success of Roots; on doing art direction for Shogun

Chapter 7

On acting as art director for Shogun in Japan;  on the biggest challenges of acting as art director for Shogun
On the differences between doing art direction for features, and on doing art direction for made-for-television movies 
On doing art direction for James Michener's Space; on doing art direction for North and South

Chapter 8

On acting as art director for Ironclads; on his retirement and his legacy; on his production style
On the then-new technologies in art direction and how production design has changed over the years; on advice to an aspiring art director; on the then-current state of art direction on television and on career highlights; on his mentor and how he'd like to be remembered 
Shows

Gilligan's Island

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Joseph Jennings on helping with art direction for Gilligan's Island

Gunsmoke

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Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Gunsmoke, and dealing with that show's transition from black and white to color
Joseph Jennings on the challenges of being art director for Gunsmoke
Joseph Jennings on working with the producers of Gunsmoke
Joseph Jennings on dealing with the height of James Arness who played "Matt Dillon" on Gunsmoke
Joseph Jennings on Gunsmoke's shooting schedule and the handling of the show's sets
Joseph Jennings on working on the Gunsmoke reunion

Ironclads

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Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Ironclads

North and South

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Joseph Jennings on being accurate with his art direction including on North and South
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for North and South

Roots

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Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots
Joseph Jennings on planning the sets for Roots and on the production of Roots
Joseph Jennings on selecting locations for Roots and on the special effects for the show
Joseph Jennings on the great success of Roots

Shogun

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Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Shogun
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Shogun in Japan
Joseph Jennings on the biggest challenges of acting as art director for Shogun

Space

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Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for James Michener's Space

Star Trek

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Joseph Jennings on the biggest challenges of preparing for a show as an art director and on doing art direction for science fiction shows including Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on planning the art direction for the first "Star Trek" feature film
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on creator Gene Roddenberry's input on the art direction of Star Trek and on the "logic" of science fiction 
Joseph Jennings on creating his vision of the future on Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on working within the constraints of Star Trek's budget and on memorable designs and episodes for Star Trek

Wild Wild West, The

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Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West starring Robert Conrad
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West
Topics

Advice

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Joseph Jennings on advice to an aspiring art director

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Joseph Jennings on his mentor and how he'd like to be remembered 

Historic Events and Social Change

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Joseph Jennings on his activities during World War II

Hollywood Blacklist

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Joseph Jennings on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Joseph Jennings on the Hollywood Blacklist

Technological Innovation

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Joseph Jennings on working with the other art directors at CBS Television City, and the differences between art directors working in film and those working in live television or video taped television 
Joseph Jennings on how the transition to color impacted the work of the art director, and on dealing with lighting
Joseph Jennings on the then-new technologies in art direction and how production design has changed over the years

Television Industry

View Topic
Joseph Jennings on the Hollywood Blacklist
Joseph Jennings on the then-new technologies in art direction and how production design has changed over the years
Joseph Jennings on advice to an aspiring art director

War

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Joseph Jennings on his activities during World War II

World War II

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Joseph Jennings on his activities during World War II
Professions

Art Director/Set Decorator

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Joseph Jennings on his duties as assistant art director
Joseph Jennings on the functions and responsibilities of an art director
Joseph Jennings on the difference between a production designer and an art director
Joseph Jennings on the relationship between the director and the art director 
Joseph Jennings on the mechanics of preparing for a show as an art director
Joseph Jennings on the biggest challenges of preparing for a show as an art director and on doing art direction for science fiction shows including Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on art directors working with sound designers and on working with the director of photography 
Joseph Jennings on safety guidelines and on government codes that had to be followed for art directors
Joseph Jennings on the art director's involvement in location scouting
Joseph Jennings on deciding on shooting on location or shooting in a studio
Joseph Jennings on the differences between doing art direction for features, and on doing art direction for made-for-television movies 
Joseph Jennings on advice to an aspiring art director
Joseph Jennings on his production style

Designers

View Profession
Joseph Jennings on working on various features as lead set designer and the duties of a lead set designer
Joseph Jennings on his duties as assistant art director
Joseph Jennings on the functions and responsibilities of an art director
Joseph Jennings on the difference between a production designer and an art director
Joseph Jennings on the duties of a set designer and on the duties of a set decorator
Joseph Jennings on the relationship between the director and the art director 
Joseph Jennings on the mechanics of preparing for a show as an art director
Joseph Jennings on the biggest challenges of preparing for a show as an art director and on doing art direction for science fiction shows including Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on art directors working with sound designers and on working with the director of photography 
Joseph Jennings on safety guidelines and on government codes that had to be followed for art directors
Joseph Jennings on the art director's involvement in location scouting
Joseph Jennings on deciding on shooting on location or shooting in a studio
Joseph Jennings on the differences between doing art direction for features, and on doing art direction for made-for-television movies 
Joseph Jennings on advice to an aspiring art director
Joseph Jennings on his production style

Production Designer

View Profession
Joseph Jennings on the difference between a production designer and an art director

Set Designer

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Joseph Jennings on working on various features as lead set designer and the duties of a lead set designer
Joseph Jennings on the duties of a set designer and on the duties of a set decorator
Genres

Comedy Series

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Joseph Jennings on helping with art direction for Gilligan's Island

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Star Trek
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Star Trek

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Joseph Jennings on being accurate with his art direction including on North and South
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Shogun
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Shogun  in Japan
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for James Michener's Space
Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for North and South
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for Ironclads

Western Series

View Genre
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West starring Robert Conrad
Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West
Joseph Jennings on being art director for Gunsmoke
People

James Arness

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Joseph Jennings on dealing with the height of James Arness who played "Matt Dillon" on Gunsmoke

Robert Conrad

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Joseph Jennings on acting as art director for The Wild, Wild West starring Robert Conrad

Alex Haley

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Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots

Stan Margulies

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Joseph Jennings on doing art direction for Alex Haley's Roots  produced by Stan Margulies

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