How production designer Sara K. White created sleek, reflective surfaces representative of Cassie’s spirit for HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” – Awardsdaily
Just when you think you know what’s going on with HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, you think about it a bit more and something else is revealed. The comedy series works on multiple levels depending on how you perceive intentions and motivations, just like in a classic glamorous thriller. This is also reflected in the design of Sara K. White’s production. There is a modern elegance to all globetrotters, but the more Cassie breaks, the more we discover the characters’ backgrounds.
The flight attendant features many stylish surfaces and reflective glass. Initially, we think it’s just to show how expensive and high-end everything is, but that choice is ingrained in Cassie’s journey as well. She is an alcoholic who spends a lot of time thinking about how her actions and behavior are viewed. It’s almost as if the paneling of a set has started all over again and Kaley Cuoco’s Cassie worries about their opinion of her.
“This is what I find most interesting about the production design work. Working with spaces that are either inherently personal or that affect someone in a very deep way and I think that’s true, probably but mostly on this show. Being able to really step into the character’s subconscious and represent him physically was such an amazing treat. So the use of things like reflection, as well as refraction and darkening, was extremely important in the sequel. And as we also started to experience other parts of the life of these main characters. So some of that was present in his loft as well, however, we kind of themed this in different ways. And part of that was being in Alex’s family home and his apartment, and being able to walk in there in a very direct way, and being supported by the other creators of the show to really dive really deep into it that was super fun. . “
The hotel room in Bangkok is incredibly important because we spend a lot of time there. It’s the scene of the crime but it’s also where Alex and Cassie see their friendship and romance blossom. You want to touch and look at everything in this room, it’s so hypnotic and chic. Large windows overlook the skyline and the living room has a high ceiling with a modern chandelier. Each piece of furniture looks unique.
“It was really important for us to make sure that every time we came back we were happy to see it again. I was talking with part of the production to go find a hotel room in Thailand and shoot stuff in that room at the start of the season and then play it back here. And it was very quickly, we started to talk about the needs of the venue, and we want to be in charge of creating that. We want to make sure that we make the choices that are 100% right for us in the long run for the season. Because it’s so important that we find this space attractive and intriguing, and it’s big enough that we can set up a camera and still have the space we need, but also frame things in new ways. All the time. You won’t get this with a standard hotel suite as in the 1% of hotel suites like the presenters who go around the world. They get these beautiful and fabulous places, but sometimes they’re always really straight or the furniture isn’t that intriguing to look at sometimes. So making sure we made the choices to make the space really, really engaging was super important.
The hotel room floor plan even makes it seem like it flows differently. Just like the themes of the show, the more you explore, the more you discover. It all plays into the strong character choices that the show’s creators incorporate into the designs.
“I really started with a design with the floor plan and taking a more classic sort of orthogonal floor plan and kinda like breaking it up, which was kind of like her own psyche was shattered when she was. here. And I really drew on this lovely theme, like straight thematic, it was like I wanted to separate that, because she has to come apart to figure out how she has to move forward. Playing with symmetry and broken symmetry, and just playing with the like, the travel paths, and the particular ways you are able to see different things, depending on where you are in the suite. You step over a foot from where you stand. And suddenly, if you’re in the living room, you might have a sharp shot looking in the bathroom, where she was standing and cleaning up the blood. Providing these opportunities was really, really important to us and to be proud of the feelings of change and movement with different sliding panels, screens and the like.
Annie’s apartment is incredibly different from little glimpses of Cassie’s living space. A successful young lawyer, Annie’s apartment is clean and very focused. Personally, I like the large arcades between her living room, her office and her kitchen, and it’s almost as if Annie wants to separate these aspects of her life in a very definitive way. The placement of the shower in the living room is a very New York thing, but it also reflects what the show does so well. It forces you to face something when you least expect it, whether it’s Cassie’s alcoholism or Max’s bare butt as you step into space. Annie’s apartment is something White took great care and pride in.
“It’s not crazy to take a shower in a particular place in an apartment in New York, but doing something that was very revealing of who Annie was, as a character, was really important to me. And I think the thing I took away from that, when I was talking to showrunner Steve Yockey about this apartment, is that it was less about wanting to have a very unique shower situation in New York. York and more, what to play in this moment? Why is she putting her here because she can afford it. She is a lawyer in the making. She works in a really powerful company. And she is able to do it intentionally. So she does it with intention. She uses all the other skills that she has as a lawyer and that she has with her as a person, which is, you know, dealing with the lies of the truth. Playing with deception, playing with surprise, managing people’s expectations for what they are going to experience with her with her legal experience. And then, with her as a person, she constantly plays with it like blurring the lines, like being a part of who she’s not on her journey this season. It’s about recognizing the way she plays with herself, the way she protects herself in a way that she doesn’t even realize. Keeping herself from enjoying life to the fullest, because she’s been so closely involved in these power games that she gets a really nice salary to play without, and she’s really smart. And she wants to keep that and make sure she’s respected. And I think that’s something he plays a lot with to enjoy meeting the expectations of someone who’s a beautiful young lady, sometimes you’re not treated with the respect you should. Our two trips are very focused on this. And therefore to be able to make sure that this trip takes place in this space and to have these borders between public and private that she has a very rigid hold in her mind. But she plays in her space like those who get muddy in her real life, she decides that she is really in love with the facts and is ready to admit it.
White also created the look and feel of an entire airline with the creation of Imperial Atlantic. Much like the design of the hotel, it’s a very brilliant design, but it feels both nostalgic and incredibly modern. Flying with Imperial Atlantic would probably come closest to the majesty of commercial flight when it was first introduced. It is an event and something very special, almost as if Pan Am is reincarnated in a singular experience.
“We flew a lot on this show in Bangkok and Rome so I did a lot of research which was awesome. With the design of the logo for this airline, that was one of the first things I did in creating this and luckily we got the name Imperial Atlantic, which already had a lot of symbolism inherent in it. I was able to create something that I found really stylish and work with our costume designer, Cat Thomas, to infuse that shape and the look of the logo into every aspect of how we show the airline branding and the look and feel of the airline. There is a lot of work to be done to create a cohesive look for an airline. Everything is taken into account on high end airlines, like the appearance of the towels is really important, the way they serve you certain things is important and very different from one airline to another. Creating a whole device to showcase this airline was really what we loved to develop this different class that Imperial Atlantic would give for coffee and as they are about to land their first class customers. Just creating an overall understanding of that of the airline was something I’ve worked with a number of different people, especially my props team. “
The stewardess airs on HBO Max.