Sign in or
BATTLES on the Tudors
|Tom Conroy has been Production Designer for all four seasons of The Tudors and the exceptional quality of his work on the show has brought two Emmy nominations for Seasons 2 and 3 (‘Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series’) along with nominations from the Art Directors Guild and Gemini Awards. Surrounded by scale models, hundreds of drawings and props in his studio workshop we asked him about the tasks and challenges in bringing Season 4 to the screen.|
Tom Conroy :I suppose the biggest challenge was a battle scene over 2 episodes, The Siege of Boulogne in 1544. It was Henry’s last hurrah as a sort of warrior king and he won but at quite a great cost, both of men and materials – and almost bankrupted himself. They surrounded the walls of the city then dug tunnels underneath and planted explosives. So we’ve recreated the whole siege which was quite complex and required the largest set we’ve yet constructed. We recreated the tunnel with the opening on the siege set and then the rest in the studio so we could take the side and the top off for shooting and we had collapsing sides for the explosion. The design is important but there’s also the technical elements of shooting which required a lot of discussion and planning.
Is there still a site there in Boulogne, did you have any actual references to work from?
TC: No, but I did have one very good reference. It was a contemporary engraving that was rediscovered in the British library only a couple of months ago, which turned out to be amazing timing for us. Because this year is the 500th anniversary Henry’s birth some scholars had been re-examining the library and one turned up an etching which showed how the Siege of Boulogne was staged – in terrific detail - so that basically became our guide. We were incredibly lucky – the drawing had been ‘lost’ for over 400 years.
Tell us a bit more about production design of the Siege of Boulogne
TC: We had to build a large tented encampment and construct defences for Henry’s army. We came up with the idea of making the initial defenses with giant bales of hay, so we bought enormous 8x4x4 bales that we installed with cranes and then covered them with earth and created traditional willow wall fencing all around them. We took all this from the etching. Overall the battle set was about three football pitches in size. Of course visual effects would have made a lot of that possible but it was felt that it would work better to shoot for real as much possible. We wanted the actors – and the audience – to feel the mud and the slog of warfare as tangibly as possible.
Did the design of the encampment come from the ‘lost’ etching too?
TC: Yes it did. We had a spectacular tent made for the king as well as an interior set and we commissioned another twelve tents of the heraldic type. Then we augmented that with old marquees which we added little bits to. We had the main tents all made in Rajasthan in India where they have a thriving industry in making large tent structures. They’re made from modern waterproof canvas of course and then we appliquéd beautiful fabrics to the exteriors. This all requires quite a bit of planning and a lead-in of about three to four months for design and shipping that you simply wouldn’t have on a feature film.
How did you set about designing the weaponry?
TC: Well, we found some cannon barrels but they were all cannons from a ship so they had a different type of wheel casement underneath so we also commissioned new wheels and shafts to be made in India by a foundry that still make cannons – so they’re almost functioning. Again we did lots of research on how they were used and how far away they would be from the walls and the mechanics of their warfare.
So do you think your set for this was historically accurate? For a battle that was fought 500 years ago?
TC: Oh yes, absolutely. It’s very detailed in everything . . . the wicker barrels, the trenches, the cannons, arrows, shields . . . and we’re the first people to recreate it which is a bit of a thrill.
Latest page update: made by MsSquirrly
, Sep 14 2011, 9:28 PM EDT
(about this update
About This Update
Edited by MsSquirrly
9 images added
5 images deleted
- complete history)
Keyword tags: Battles
More Info: links to this page
|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|frogy23||Battle scenery Ep. 4.7||1||Dec 13 2010, 6:15 PM EST by RoyalDynasty666|
Showing 1 of 1 threads for this page