It was while collaborating with film students in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and design that Anna Rackard first began to design for film. Having completed 3 years of architecture before transferring to Dun Laoghaire, her architectural skills became a fundamental asset when it came to designing for film.
Since graduating she has had a successful career working with many high profile designers and directors and winning an Irish Film and Television Award for best production design in 2010 for her work on Neil Jordan’s Ondine and again in 2012 for Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s Stella Days.
It was while art directing on Neil Jordan’s The Butcher Boy that she was inspired to produce a book called Fish Stone Water on the holy wells of Ireland, which was published in 2001. She co-directed a documentary on the same subject, called An Tobar, for TG4 in 2004.
Anna has always had a passion for art and design and maintains a fine art photography practice alongside her film career. Her photographs were recently part of Second Sight, a group exhibition from the David Kronn collection, shown at IMMA in Dublin and the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny.
For further information, Anna’s listing on IMDB can be found here.
- Best Production Design Irish Film and Television Awards 2012 for "Stella Days"
- Best Production Design Irish Film and Television Awards 2010 for "Ondine"
- For additional nominations, see IMDB listing.
These episodes of Foyle’s War were set during the beginning of the cold war in 1940s London. This series was shot on location in Dublin and its surrounding areas. There is a great variety of sets and characters over the episodes, so I wanted plenty of variety in the look of the locations and decorated them to reflect each storyline and individual character. Just after the war many areas of London had been destroyed by bombing, and many pre-fab houses were built at this time. One of our main characters was scripted to live in one, we had to find a location where we could build an exterior pre-fab house for dialog scenes around the front of the house. For wide shots this set was then enhanced in post production by visual effects, they added a number of pre-fabs in the background and other London skyline elements. We then built the interior of the pre-fab in the studio, where it was easier to control lighting, move walls, and have no sound problems. The interior of MI5 was a difficult location to find, partially because I had a very specific idea of what I wanted it to look like and we couldn’t find a location that would work and we didn’t have the budget to build it from scratch. So in the end I had to simplify my original idea, but I held out for a long time hoping to find the right location!
(DoP: Gavin Struthers)
The story of Loving Miss Hatto begins in the early 1950s and spans five decades to the mid-2000s. Set in England, it was shot on location in Dublin.
The first part of the story is set in London, we choose locations that would emulate the scale of London, and the optimism of the early part of the story. The second part of the story is less optimistic, the characters are in their latter years, and going through some difficulties, so I wanted to create a very different mood for where they were living at that point.
The script is the starting point for everyone working on a film, the mood of the piece, the arc of the story and the journey of the individual characters are all initially established in the script. The director will bring their own interpretation to the script, ideas about style, scale, mood, colour, locations, and development of characters are all discussed in the weeks before filming begins.
(DoP: Martin Fuhrer)
Stella Days was set in the 1950s during the time of rural electrification in Ireland. The exteriors of the town and some interiors, were shot on location in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, we chose Fethard after many weeks of scouting as it still had good period shopfronts and not many of the exterior buildings were painted, something that is difficult to find nowadays. Many of the other interiors were shot in Dublin and Wicklow. We had very sudden heavy snow half way through filming which made some of our more remote locations completely inaccessible. However with some effort we continue filming, the snow became an unplanned part of our film, creating a stunning opening sequence. The look of the film was dictated by the simplicity of rural life in Ireland at that time, Dorothea Lange’s beautiful photographs of Ireland in 1954 where a great source of inspiration. The ESB historical archive was invaluable reference specific to rural electrification in the 50s.
(DoP: John Christian Rosenlund)
Neil Jordan wanted Ondine to have a timeless feel, he didn’t want it to be too obviously set in any particular decade. This was relatively easy to achieve in the rural, seaside context of the story. One of the main sets was the cabin by the sea, which was built on location in Co. Cork. We had discussed building the interior cabin on stage (better for weather and sound) and the exterior on location. But because of the importance of the sea setting and the need to stage action around the door, we decided to take a chance with the weather and build it on location. We landscaped the area around the cabin to make it look realistic, lived-in & used. The site was a grassy field leading to a beach, and because we were shooting there over a number of weeks, the grass would have been too easily trampled by crew so we put in paths and replaced the grass with stone and pebble. The interior was decorated by the set decorator Judy Farr, with a mixture of furniture from prop houses, local houses, antique shops and scrap yards. Again, the aim here was to create an interior that looked like it was decorated over time, was well worn, inviting and even a bit romantic, while at the same time being grounded in realism.
(DoP: Christopher Doyle)
Set in northern England in the 1960s and shot on location in Dublin and Wicklow, there were many different characters and environments needed to tell the stories in these two episodes of George Gently. Its important for me to create environments and sets that give the audience some backstory to the characters, reflecting their personality and place in society. Are they fashionable, do they care about the place they live in, is it just functional, is it organized or are they living in complete chaos? All of these kinds of questions are discussed with the director and are often already written into the script. My job is to put those ideas on screen and to do it in a way that feels natural, that is not obvious or forced and above all does not take away from the story telling.
(DoP: Peter Robertson)