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'Midnight in Paris': Oscar-nominated production designer Anne Seibel talks about her process

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17 Mood Board Moulin Rouge
Anne Seibel

Each year, the Oscars recognize A-list talent we regularly see on screen, on the red carpet, and in tabloids. But the Academy Awards also reward those who work behind the scenes: the writers, editors, costume designers, and others who help create trophy-worthy movie magic. This Oscars season, we’ll be toasting those off-screen artists by delving into the hidden secrets that helped create the on-screen magic that we — and the Academy — fell in love with. For more access backstage during this Oscars season, click here for EW.com’s Oscars Behind the Scenes coverage.

In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, it was easy to see why Gil (Owen Wilson) fell in love with the City of Lights, both past and present. While some magical time-traveling (and some very famous travel companions) certainly had something to do with it, none of it would have made Gil — or Academy members — swoon without the romantic scenery and mood set by Oscar-nominated production designer Anne Seibel. EW spoke with Seibel (who is nominated alongside set decorator Hélène Dubreuil for the Academy Award for Art Direction) about her process on Midnight in Paris (click the jump to see her sketches and mood boards), how the magical sets came to life, and what it was like to work with Woody Allen. C’est magnifique!

Interior: Gertrude Stein’s house in Paris

For one of the more research-intensive of all of the scenes in Midnight in Paris, Seibel explained that she studied everything from Stein’s “private life and what she collected” to “reference photos” to “the descriptions in the books of F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Seibel tells EW, “I based the design of Gertrude Stein’s house on  all that. I based my look on this idea that she had a workshop with big windows on the side.”

Still, even though she had a vision, Seibel had to find the right location. “We were not allowed to do construction on stage, so I had to find to find a place in Paris, a flat or something, that I could transform.” With the help of the film’s location manager, Seibel says she “found a space with the same configuration, and from that I re-created what could have been a life in her flat and all the paintings she had collected at this exact period. I took the space and I found a set decorator to get some furniture and from that, we created [Gertrude Stein’s house].”

“The look we wanted for the period parts of the film was opposite of the contemporary one, which was more in beige and brown and gold colors. So I had this long conversation with [cinematographer] Darius Khondji and showed him all these references, so we chose the color together. It gave this mood that draws you into it,” Seibel explains.

Check out Seibel’s mood board for Gertrude Stein’s house here:

Next: Going for a (complicated) stroll at Place Pigalle…