Melissa Chen – Any Questions for Ben?

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    Melissa Chen has many a string to her bow, designer, retailer, stylist, creative, wife and mother to name but a few. More recently she has added the role of ‘Melbourne design aficionado’ to her awe-inspiring repertoire of work.
    The team at Working Dog Productions recognised Melissa as the go to girl for all things design when they were looking to establish the design direction for their latest movie ‘Any Questions For Ben?’. Referred to as one of the main characters in the movie, Melbourne put on the performance of her life and it was Melissa’s job to ensure the city was portrayed in the layered, amazing, design led city that it is.

    Armed with the knowledge and know how, Melissa and her team of young designers were responsible for ensuring the movie was current, realistic and stylish. The fact that Melbourne can hold its own aesthetically with stars Josh Lawson and Rachael Taylor is due to Melissa and her team.
    What we love about Melissa and the team at Working Dog Productions is their love for collaborating. The best ideas come from pooling resources and talents and working together collectively is not only fun (in this case hilarious working with Rob Sitch) and creatively inspiring, it produces the best results – and here proof is in the picture.
    What is your favourite scene in the movie that you helped create? 
    The nightclub scene outside the bathroom. The characters talk about the lighting and graphics that they can’t understand but know looks good which was a line Rob Sitch came up with in our briefings. It was great to see the same line in the movie, which we all loved at the time.
    How did the collaboration process work with the Working Dog team? 
    We met with Rob Sitch and the line producer Deb Herman over several months and were briefed on a different topic each week which we would research, compile images, discuss and collaborate from our side (I worked with 2 talented, younger Interior Designers Alison Baker and Alanna Brown) then presented to Rob & Deb the next week and would discuss the imagery and trends presented in terms of interiors, furniture, fashion, lifestyle, food & art. Rob & Deb were incredibly gracious, inspired and generous in their approach to the collaborative process and inspired us all to understand the way we felt the characters would live and the places they would frequent, the clothes they would wear and the objects that surrounded them. I think Rob enjoyed seeing his thought process articulated into imagery and each week was a vibrant and very funny discussion on the chosen topic
    Can you name your top 3 ‘go to’ places for inspiration when designing scenes for ‘Any questions for Ben?’. ie what blog did you love in particular – or website – or mag? 
    Cool HunterGarance DoreThe Design Files, Scenologist, ContemporistYellow TraceDesign Milk, too many to mention! Research on window displays across the world was also an important source, again this took us to the humorous and more out there ideas.
    How is working for films and designing sets different to your work as an interior designer for commercial and residential clients? 
    Set design is very different to residential, hospitality or commercial design as it’s so temporary and can be mocked up as vignettes. Movie sets are a fleeting yet living, breathing entity given character not only by the objects but the story and actors inhabiting the space. Unlike interior design where a “whole space” can be taken in at once, the narrow viewing area for a film means that you have to concentrate on a smaller area.
    Where do used sets go when they are finished filming? Is there somewhere we can go to get our hands on ‘used’ igloos? 
    I am not sure – I would love to know the answer to this one too!
    © MMXII Any Questions For Ben? (Films) Pty Ltd | PHOTOGRAPHY: Hwa Goh

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