Minority Report changed production designer Alex McDowell's career. The film didn't begin with a script. Instead, director Steven Spielberg wanted a world that would jump-start the narrative. So with the help of a transmedia "think tank," Alex created a detailed digital environment complete with its own society, politics, technology, terrain, and infrastructure. Alex spent the next decade world building, working on films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Watchmen. Now he runs 5D GlobalStudio and the World Building Media Lab at the University of Southern California, where students learn how to solve storytelling problems through design.
In this interview, Alex tells us about his current projects (including models for sustainable living and a virtual exploration of the world's oceans), the future of media and narrative, and where he looks for inspiration.
Our speaker at the May 2011 CreativeMornings/NewYork was Maria Popova of Brain Pickings (brainpickings.org/). The event was generously hosted by General Assembly (generalassemb.ly/).
CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk, plus coffee! You can currently join us in New York, Zurich, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. (creativemornings.com)
A big thank you to Sy J. Abudu (syjabudu.com/) for filming and editing the talk.