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FLORA ORTEGA, Production Designer, IATSE Local 800

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Port Isabel, a small town located on the Gulf Coast of South Texas. My father was a shrimper from this area and my mother is from Veracruz, Mexico. We didn't have much, but we always had fresh shrimp. Going to the movie theater was one of the things that we did for fun together as a family and where my love for film began.

What are your responsibilities or roles in your department? Production Designers visualize the look and feel of a project in order to build the world that the show takes place in. As the head of the Art Department, they communicate with producers, directors and cinematographers as well as the second unit, stunts, special effects and numerous other departments. Designers are involved in the selections of visual effects, lighting, props and set dressing.

They contribute to the overall look and totality

of a film or show.

Are there any films that inspired you to start

working in television and film?

Como agua para chocolate really caught my eye and sparked an interest in period pieces and magical surrealism. I was intrigued by films like Lonesome Dove, Lawrence of Arabia, and Dr. Zhivago. I loved the sheer scale and drama of it all--the lighting, set dressing, props, costumes, and battle sequences. I was captivated by the enormous amount of detail in every frame. I dream of creating epic worlds like this.

What made you want to work in your dept?

What drew me to Production Design is that

amazing feeling you get when you see your

vision through and share that success with the

team that made it possible. I live for that moment

when everyone sees your set for the very first time!

What has been your favorite project to work on?

I recently Production Designed my first feature film as a member of the Art Director’s Guild, God’s Country, a neo-western thriller starring Thandiwe Newton which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Newton plays a grieving college professor who confronts two hunters she catches trespassing on her property, triggering a battle of wills with dangerous ramifications. It is my proudest accomplishment to date. Shooting this film in

Montana was truly the adventure of a lifetime.

How did you begin working in the industry? After graduating from the Radio-Television-Film Master’s program at the University of Texas, I moved to L.A. and started designing thesis films at USC and AFI, working on as many short films as I could. During this time, I also worked as an Art PA for other Production Designers in order to gain as much experience as possible. I then began to design commercials, music videos, and television series before moving on to Art Direct two features and ultimately designing my first feature length films, Outsiders (2021) and God’s Country (2022).

What advice would you give someone starting out in this industry? Push yourself, but also be patient with your growth and artistic career. It’s important to

build networks early on, seek out mentors, and

nurture creative relationships with friends and

colleagues you respect. Continue to sharpen and

build upon your skills whenever possible.


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