Graphic props for the HBO movie Wizard of Lies.
Director: Barry Levinson
I was asked to do a few things for this movie, which tells the story of Bernie Madoff's crimes. In addition to lots of research, I had to produce copies of magazines and newspapers, and various notes and paperwork, including Madoff's indictments.
For the copy of Barron's that we see, I had to reconstruct a version of an actual issue that called into question the seemingly impossible returns that Madoff's fund seemed to generate. I had to track down the original 2001 issue, which is how I learned that these types of periodicals are more ephemeral and less likely to survive than most. I was able to find some bad photocopies of the cover and the first page of the article in the trial evidence. From that, I had to build an entire issue of the paper - charts, ads, articles, the works. We didn't know at the time how much of it would appear in the final edit, so it all had to look good. I also had to do the illustration of DeNiro as Madoff. I didn't have photos of him in the makeup to refer to, so I had to do his likeness by looking at photos of him and Madoff and trying to meld them.
I also had to make copies of an even more ephemeral publication - a little hedge fund industry magazine called Mar Hedge. Again, using bad photocopies included in the trial evidence, I put together an entire magazine - writing headlines, making up ads, and finding body copy that would read correctly in a close-up shot. We never end up seeing it in the final film.
I was also asked to produce copies of the Wall Street Journal from the Black Monday period - October 19, 1987. This turned out to be the hardest task yet. I had actually done illustration work for the WSJ around this time, so I was able to show them the tearsheets to give them an idea of what the paper looked like. But the director wanted the actual papers for a scene where Bernie waves them and slaps them down on a desk. Creating them from scratch wasn't possible. So I emailed my friendsOrlie Kraus and Daniel Smith at the WSJ. I explained the situation and asked if they could help. Orlie was able to send me a photo of part of the front page of one paper, but after a lot of digging, they weren't able to find anything. Because the WSJ archive had been destroyed in 9/11, there were no copies on file before that date. A search of vintage newspaper dealers also turned up nothing. By some miracle, I was able to find a guy in the midwest who had full copies of that entire week. He was a former trader who had saved them because it was such an earth shattering event in the markets. In the end, we see a page or two, briefly, in the darkened background, in a scene with Madoff and his sidekick Frank Dipascali, played by Hank Azaria.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Propmaster: Vinny Mazzarella
Set Decorator: Susan Bode
Did you know that international assassin John Wick retired briefly and pursued his love of restoring and collecting Victorian children's books? Well, that was in the original script, at any rate. I was hired to recommend, track down and purchase books, including first editions of Thomas Bewick's beautifully illustrated Fables of Aesop. I also trained Keanu Reeves in various bookbinding skills, worked on set as technical advisor while they shot those scenes, and doubled for his hands in close-ups. His shop – which you see briefly on screen when he smashes open the floor – was filled with my books, cabinets, tools and equipment. On the sequel, I also helped out with the marker book and a few other things.
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Propmaster: Gay Perello
Set Decorator: Roya Parivar
Director: George Nolfi
Propmaster: Ann Miller
Set Decorator: Susan Bode