Allan Starski

Set designer can create tension and arouse emotions

Well, the thing is, Starski didn't want to be a filmmaker in the first place. Being a child of respected polish screenwriter and songwriter Ludwik Starski, Allan refused to follow the "family tradition". He even graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw with a degree in architecture. But eventually filmmaking found its way into his life.

After his debut as a set designer in the TV movie CHLOPCI (1973), Starski got recognized by respected polish director Andrzej Wajda. "The very first professional challenge? It was the first film of Andrzej Wajda - THE SHADOW LINE. Fantastic experience, because a lot of decoration had to be built in a studio. Here in Warsaw. I remember how Andrzej and I covered the whole ship with another layer of paint because no one else had the patience to do it!" Out of  all their successful collaborations we need to mention movies CZLOWIEK Z MARMURU (1977) and DANTON (1982) that introduced Starski into the filmmaking world outside of Poland.

Starski's biggest success has been definitely the film SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg, that has brought him the Academy Award for the Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and many other prestige awards among festivals.

"Producers do not want to talk me much, because they are joking that every word I say is costing them a fortune. They say: Starski is expensive already when he speaks. Well, it's true. When director gives me the green light and unleashes my imagination, the producer hides his face in his hands."

Winning the Academy Award was certainly an important moment in Allan's career but surely not the only one. Choosing from the rich amount of  his projects, Starski collaborated as a set designer with the director Roman Polanski on the movie THE PIANIST (2002). "No part of THE PIANIST was established in Warsaw. It is easier to build a new world than adapt an existing one. Look at the colours. Facades are painted with modern paints, stronger, which reflect light differently - but facades of buildings in film do require a convincing patina." 

"Roman Polanski is that kind of director who needs a great decoration, exactly corresponding to his vision. It must be the way he wants, or not at all. Unlike Wajda, who is open to ideas and visions of a designer."

From the long list of movies Allan Starski have worked on, we should to mention Agnieszka's Holland debut EUROPA, EUROPA (1990) and one of his last projects HANIBAL RISING (2007) directed by Peter Webber. But Allan doesn't only choose to be the set designer for dramas that carry big and important message. His contribution to the crazy comedy EUROTRIP (2004) proves, that he really is up to for almost anything...

“If do I feel like a star? I don’t think that comes into the question at all in my job. The greatest luxury I have is the fact that on the film set I have a chair with Allan Starski written on it.”