Leo Yoshimura

Production Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his 75-minute interview, Leo Yoshimura talks about his early life, his first production design jobs in college, and attending the Yale School of Drama. He speaks of his production design work in the theater, and being hired by Saturday Night Live. He details his long career at SNL, including working with creator Lorne Michaels, designing the early home base set, and a typical work week on the show. He recalls playing “Sulu” in several Star Trek sketches over the years, which leads to a discussion of the lack of representation of Japanese people on television. He concludes with giving advice to aspiring production designers, and discussing how he’d like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 17, 2017 in New York, NY.

In their two-hour, joint interview the Saturday Night Live Production Design Team, including Eugene Lee, Keith Raywood, Leo Yoshimura, and Joe DeTullio, talk about how each of them came to join the staff of Saturday Night Live. They recall designing the various “home base” sets for the show over the year, and consulting with executive producer Lorne Michaels for his input. The describe how the collaborate with each other, and with other departments on the show. They describe working with the various directors of the show, and on the unique challenges of doing production design for a live broadcast. They chronicle some of their favorite sets and most memorable moments, and working with the musical guests. Finally, they opine on why Saturday Night Live has endured, and speculate on how much longer they might stay with the show. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 17, 2017 in New York, NY.

"Being a production designer on Saturday Night Live is creatively satisfying, and I’m addicted to it. The adrenaline addiction is really the hardest addiction to get over. I was thinking about if I leave here, what am I going to do with my time? It’s very hard to kind of think of me sitting around not doing this."

Highlights
Leo Yoshimura on a typical work week for him on Saturday Night Live
06:37
Leo Yoshimura on being hired as a production designer on Saturday Night Live alongside Eugene Lee
03:28
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on lack of representation of Japanese people on television
06:08
Leo Yoshimura on production designing the first cold open on Saturday Night Live, "The Wolverines," and on dealing with budgets
03:41
Leo Yoshimura on some of his biggest challenges as a production designer on Saturday Night Live
06:58
Leo Yoshimura on advice to aspiring production designers
02:42
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his interest in art as a child; on his early production design jobs in college and for Second City
11:17
On his various mentors at the Yale School of Drama; on making the transition from doing production design for theater to doing production design for television, and on finding work early in his career; on being hired as a production designer on Saturday Night Live alongside Eugene Lee
11:05
On working with Eugene Lee on production designing the first few episodes of Saturday Night Live, and working with the stagehands on the show; on his and Eugene Lee's early understanding with Lorne Michaels about the production design of Saturday Night Live, and on designing the early home base set; on production designing the first cold open on Saturday Night Live, "The Wolverines," and on dealing with budgets
09:23
On a typical work week for him on Saturday Night Live; on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on the lack of representation of Japanese people on television; on his longevity at Saturday Night Live, and his wanting to continue to work
14:16
On some of his biggest challenges as a production designer on Saturday Night Live; on working with the crew of Saturday Night Live; on doing production design for shows other than Saturday Night Live
11:05
On his own and Eugene Lee's points of view and style of production design, and on his relationship with Lee; on how the television industry has changed since he started; on the persistent lack of representation of Asian Americans on television
10:13
On advice to aspiring production designers; on how he would like to be remembered
06:27

Chapter 2

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE PRODUCTION DESIGN TEAM: Eugene Lee on how he came to join Saturday Night Live, and on his early experience with the show; on designing the Saturday Night Live home base set
15:59
On Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set; on the llama running joke on Saturday Night Live; Keith Raywood and Joe DeTullio on how they joined Saturday Night Live
15:47
On how the team functions together, and on a typical workweek for the team; on what makes working on Saturday Night Live production design unique
11:36
On their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live; on reusing old sets on Saturday Night Live; on dealing with the tight time constraints of Saturday Night Live, and on their biggest challenges
14:13

Chapter 3

On working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King; on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live; on their favorite sets, and on Saturday Night Live being live
12:19
On their longevity staying with Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with crazy weeks; on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on-air; on appearing in sketches on Saturday Night Live from time to time, and on the "Weekend Update" set
14:12
On the most fun sets to design for Saturday Night Live; on working with the musical guests on Saturday Night Live; on favorite sets they've worked on for Saturday Night Live
09:46
On continuing to work on Saturday Night Live; on the enduring popularity of Saturday Night Live, and on what keeps them working there
10:44
Shows

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
Leo Yoshimura on being hired as a production designer on Saturday Night Live alongside Eugene Lee
03:28
Leo Yoshimura on working with Eugene Lee on production designing the first few episodes of Saturday Night Live, and working with the stagehands on the show
04:21
Leo Yoshimura on his and Eugene Lee's early understanding with Lorne Michaels about the production design of Saturday Night Live, and on designing the early home base set
01:20
Leo Yoshimura on production designing the first cold open on Saturday Night Live, "The Wolverines," and on dealing with budgets
03:41
Leo Yoshimura on a typical work week for him on Saturday Night Live
06:37
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on lack of representation of Japanese people on television
06:08
Leo Yoshimura on his longevity at Saturday Night Live, and his wanting to continue to work
01:30
Leo Yoshimura on some of his biggest challenges as a production designer on Saturday Night Live
06:57
Leo Yoshimura on working with the crew of Saturday Night Live
00:58
Eugene Lee on how he came to join Saturday Night Live, and on his early experience with the show
11:25
SNL Production Design Team on designing the Saturday Night Live home base set
03:00
SNL Production Design Team on Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set
04:44
SNL Production Design Team on the llama running joke on Saturday Night Live
02:03
Keith Raywood on how he became involved with Saturday Night Live, and on his role within the team
04:02
Joe DeTullio on how he joined Saturday Night Live
04:58
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical workweek
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on what makes working on Saturday Night Live production design unique
02:43
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on reusing old sets on Saturday Night Live
02:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with the tight time constraints of Saturday Night Live, and on their biggest challenges
10:17
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on their favorite sets, and on Saturday Night Live being live
04:44
SNL Production Design Team on their longevity staying with Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with crazy weeks
05:53
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:49
SNL Production Design Team on appearing in sketches on Saturday Night Live from time to time, and on the "Weekend Update" set
03:29
SNL Production Design Team on the most fun sets to design for Saturday Night Live
03:01
SNL Production Design Team on working with the musical guests on Saturday Night Live
04:15
SNL Production Design Team on favorite sets they've worked on for Saturday Night Live, and on assessing their job after a given show
02:30
SNL Production Design Team on continuing to work on Saturday Night Live
01:17
SNL Production Design Team on the enduring popularity of Saturday Night Live, and on what keeps them working there
09:27

Star Trek

View Show Page
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years
06:08
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on advice to aspiring production designers
02:42

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on his various mentors at the Yale School of Drama
03:44

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on the persistent lack of representation of Asian Americans on television
03:57
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on lack of representation of Japanese people on television
06:08

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on Emmy nominations and wins, and on his proudest career achievement
02:30

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on the persistent lack of representation of Asian Americans on television
03:57
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on lack of representation of Japanese people on television
06:08

Minorities

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on the persistent lack of representation of Asian Americans on television
03:57
Leo Yoshimura on playing "Sulu" in several Star Trek parodies on Saturday Night Live over the years, and on lack of representation of Japanese people on television
06:08

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on his various mentors at the Yale School of Drama
03:44

Television Industry

View Topic
Leo Yoshimura on how the television industry has changed since he started
02:25
Leo Yoshimura on advice to aspiring production designers
02:42
Professions

Designers

View Profession
Leo Yoshimura on making the transition from doing production design for theater to doing production design for television, and on finding work early in his career
03:53
Leo Yoshimura on his own and Eugene Lee's points of view and style of production design, and on his relationship with Lee
03:51
Leo Yoshimura on advice to aspiring production designers
02:42
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical work week for the team
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:50

Production Designer

View Profession
Leo Yoshimura on making the transition from doing production design for theater to doing production design for television, and on finding work early in his career
03:53
Leo Yoshimura on his own and Eugene Lee's points of view and style of production design, and on his relationship with Lee
03:51
Leo Yoshimura on advice to aspiring production designers
02:42
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical work week for the team
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:50
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Leo Yoshimura on production designing for Saturday Night Live
42:03
People

Don Roy King

View Interview Page
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28

Beth McCarthy-Miller

View Interview Page
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
Leo Yoshimura on his and Eugene Lee's early understanding with Lorne Michaels about the production design of Saturday Night Live, and on designing the early home base set
01:20
SNL Production Design Team on Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set
04:44

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