PureMX 3/18/04: Production Designer Rocco Matteo *Property of PureMX.
The Pure MX Interview with Rocco Matteo
After diligent research by Cono, our intrepid Shalgal contacted none other than ROCCO MATTEO, production designer for Season 1 and the man behind the high style of the series. He graciously agreed to answer a few questions. An interview task force was assembled with Shalgal herself, Dark Mirage, Falconia and Frickangel. We came up with 10 questions sent to Matteo. He has already answered Part 1 in great detail and promised more to come!
First off, we'd like to thank you for agreeing to do this question and answer with us. We sent you 10 questions, but feel free to pick and choose which ones to answer. We weren't sure what you would remember or how many questions you'd like to respond to. We really feel that Season One's appearance give it a special feel even when the plot of the episodes weren't the greatest. We give you a large amount of credit for creating this feel.
PureMX: Mr. Matteo, the whole Mutant X production had to have a "feel", a particular look. How did you participate in its creation? What did you contribute to it?
Re: the feel of the show... I was hired first after the head writers. I read very early drafts of 2 scripts. Immediately I wanted to know how we would define the world of this show in terms of the x-men franchise and also in terms of our limited resources. It became obvious that the connection to the x-men would be nil, and that the show needed to create places that were unique to us. I had to define what those things might be, and how they might evolve over the run of a series. One starting point was the notion of how there could have been 2 opposed ideas of how to 'nurture' humans with heightened abilities. I thought 1 view embraced 'invasive' science and an authoritative administration that went with it, while the other view was a more 'holistic' or spiritual style run as a 'family'. It was decided that these 2 sides should be elaborated into 2 standing sets that would carry at lot of the storytelling. A lot of things inspire my work. I researched bio engineering and the human genome project. I saw documentaries and watched movies. i knew what came to be known as the GSA needed to be based as a secure lab environment. The actual plan of the main pieces were inspired by two things mostly: The main circular hall was a continuation of the work I had started on the "hub' set of Section 1 in the Nikita series. I felt the overiding relationships were the same....a central figure lording over an ongoing controlled experiment. The "gestation ring" was a primary holding and observation area for controlled experimentation on humans. The idea was that on the peripheral areas radiating out from this centre, were labs each detailed with a unique 'proceedure' that we-the audience- would glimpse every week. I proposed that the series could accumulate numerous interesting and scary places and re searches. Ultimately, the writers tended to want to take the stories out into the world more and not rely on stories detailed with lab research. Unlike what CSI has done, MX never found its joy in 'procedural work'. The 'skin' of this GSA lab world was to remind you of 'invasiveness'. Everything is sharp, steely and needle-like as possible. The concrete ribs are as 'bonelike' as possible. The 'skeleton' of the building is expressed outwardly in these spaces. I wanted the GSA to 'say' autopsy to the audience, knowing that I would not be able to show you one for real. The mutant 'x ' resistance operated a variety of mobile, tactically proficient safehouses that harboured 'new mutants'...people who had become reviled in their part of society because of outward changes in them...this whole 'new mutant' thing...ask the writers. Anyway, it was felt that the leader of this resistance was a noble and principled scientist who wanted a permanent base of operations. Like his alter-ego/nemesis at the GSA, the M x lair is on water. The GSA were 'hidden-in plain sight' tucked in a palatial, authoritative mega building that is part water filtration facility part government black op project. The M x' lair was designed to be an under quarry structure... that is,built at the bottom of a large stone quarry that had been filled with water, thus concealing most of it from view. As the scientist imagined it, the stone materials were rendered in a very man-made way, stoic, calm and finessed with technology or symbolism. The structure was massive, the long hall engineered to hold back tons of water except what was allowed in at the ends---by waterfall into a standing reflecting pond/algae pool. Nice to look at--also good for generating oxygen. Those windows aren't windows---they are photosynthetic banks, necessary for growing the garden and sometimes lighting the room. A lot of this 'theory' was abandoned when it was decided- by others- to place this lair inside a mountain, albeit near water. An extended arrival sequence I designed that showed the importance of water to this 'eco system' lair was never implemented.
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