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In this inaugural edition of our new screening series The Craft, which explores the work of artists and craftspeople whose visions bring films to life, we celebrate production designer Wynn Thomas. In his 40-year career, Thomas has crafted worlds alongside directors like Spike Lee, Tim Burton, Robert Townsend, Robert De Niro, and Ron Howard. Often recognized as the first African American production designer in American movie-making, Thomas got his start in the industry working with master designer Robert Sylbert on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club, after years nurturing his talent for design in theater. He soon forged a relationship with Spike Lee, a collaboration that has spanned 35 years and 11 films. From She’s Gotta Have It to Da 5 Bloods, Thomas has designed the vibrant sets that define Lee’s most iconic films. Thomas’s body of work—from the campy, candy-colored sci-fi sets of Mars Attacks! to the clubs, prison, and homes where Malcolm X spends his days in Lee’s eponymous epic—showcases his power to meticulously craft a reality for characters to inhabit in any era. The series is accompanied by an in-depth conversation with Thomas.
Presented as a series of live conversations and screenings throughout the year, The Craft honors some of the extraordinary—yet often unsung—talents working behind the scenes in cinema today. We hope to demystify the process of making movies while also preserving its magic, as costume designers and casting directors, producers and PR agents, editors, composers, stunt doubles, special effects supervisors, and various other industry professionals share unique perspectives, illuminating experiences, and secrets of the trade.
Organized by Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.
The Craft series is overseen by Josh Siegel, Curator, and Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.