5D Conference : Bigger Bang Pt 4 - J. Michael Riva from Dave Blass on Vimeo.
A few weeks ago, I watched the above video, whose views have skyrocketed after reports of J. Michael Riva's passing began circulating yesterday. In it, the talented Mr. Riva discussed production design and his career as a production designer, and he even shared some personal stories. He described his family as "theatrical," "dreamers," and "nutty as fruitcakes," yet he was understated enough not to name his grandmother, Marlene Dietrich, only calling her "an actress."
You know what? Even though Riva had a creative pedigree, his own professional achievements spoke for themselves. Most recently, Riva has worked on CGI-heavy superhero films with extraordinary visuals, such as the Iron Man and Spider-Man franchises. Although I have seen some of these movies, my vision's probably too jaded to appreciate them with the childlike wonder that Riva's work so successfully inspires. In fact, my favorite sets of Riva's are from movies that I watched countless times during my childhood--The Color Purple, The Goonies, and Radio Flyer. Riva played many other behind-the-scenes roles during his career, too, and I remember the Tales from the Crypt episode that he directed when it aired ("The Secret"), even though I certainly didn't know anything about Riva at the time. Some of its dark sets lit in blue reminded me of Beetlejuice, another one of my juvenile favorites. I find hypothetical situations trivial, but I now wonder what magic Riva could have conjured up had he collaborated with Tim Burton.
RIP J. Michael Riva.
Also, RIP Ray Bradbury, another man with quite an impressive imagination. I learned that he was photographed during his teenage years with Dietrich in 1935, which you can see in this slideshow.