Maria Djurkovic "Creating the Environment and Visual Style for the Story"

Maria Djurkovic is a British production designer, who was nominated for an Academy Award. In 2000, she made her first film with Stephen Daldry, box office hit called Billy Elliot, and won an award for it.  Two years later, they collaborated on the movie The Hours. She was nominated for the Art Directors Guild Award for both of movies. The Snowman is her second collaboration with Tomas Alfredson, while having initially designed the look for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, for which she was awarded a BIFA as well as a BAFTA nomination in 2012.

"Be prepared to work insanely hard, be a monomaniac and really want to do it. Take every opportunity and be persistent. Be prepared to take knocks. Keep immersing yourself in visual culture, refresh your resources. I am always shocked how ignorant many students are about period. Period knowledge should run in your veins."

Maria Djurkovic

 

 

Maria grew up in Harrow, wanted to be a Production Designer from the age of 8. She studied Fine Art at the University of Oxford, where she did a post grad course in theatre design. Maria started at the BBC the day after she graduated. She stayed there for 3 years and then went freelance, building up her own career step by step, while alternating between set decoration of bigger films and designing small TV things.

She designed her first film in 1995. In 2000, she met the director Stephen Daldry. They shot a film about a talented young boy who becomes torn between his unexpected love of dance and the disintegration of his family – Billie Eliot. The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Maria got her nomination for Best Production Design from Art Directors Guild. Maria Djurkovic and Stephen Daldry collaborated for the second time on a movie The Hours (2002) – a drama with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore.

“I am certain that everyone is different. I like to work with directors for whom visuals are very important. This may seem obvious in such a visual medium as filmmaking, but believe me it isn’t. I will meet a director for a job with a very clear idea of how I see their film. I actually like to stick my neck out, because I really don’t want to spend the next6 to 9 months arguing. If a director likes my ideas, I will get the job. If they don’t, or if they are not looking for an opinionated designer, I won’t. The best working relationships for me are the very collaborative ones. Tomas Alfredson is the director of my dreams. We practically finish off each other’s sentences. I enjoy working with directors who are unafraid of bold visuals and who don’t get caught up in stuff that actually doesn’t matter. Those who are comfortable cheating locations and are not too literal. Obviously, the material they are wanting to direct has to be good and I have to like their work. A sense of humor is hugely important to me. We will spend hours and hours in cars, looking at locations. We need to get on.”

Maria Djurkovic

 

 

In 2011, Maria started her cooperation with director Tomas Alfredson. Their first film was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), for which she was awarded a BIFA as well as a BAFTA nomination. Their next film together was The Snowman (2017) – a psychological crime horror thriller based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. As she said: "Tomas Alfredson is my dream director. We practically finish off each other’s sentences. I enjoy working with directors who are unafraid of bold visuals and who don’t get caught up in stuff that actually doesn’t matter. Those who are comfortable cheating locations and are not too literal."

In 2014, she worked on The Imitation Game – a historical drama about the English mathematical genius Alan Turing who tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians. The film got 7 nominations for Academy Awards including Best Achievement in Production Design.

Maria did production design also on Woody Allen's Scoop (2006) and Cassandra's Dream (2007). Another notable films include Mamma Mia! (2008) or The Invisible Woman (2013)