Although we were working on a very low
budget, we set out to create this world of the future with as much realism and accuracy as
possible. The future we depicted isn't necessarily our future - the
idea was to create a look derived from the situations in the story. The
result isn't so much futuristic as it is alternative future. We
asked ourselves questions such as "What would the world be like if
the Soviets had actually won the cold war?"
We went for techno-functional,
with no attempt to ingratiate or beautify the surroundings. We figured
that the society depicted in the film would never spend the time or money
to design aesthetics into their environment.
Realistic proportions were
established and held to throughout the station construction.
Everything, from the
costumes to the computer screens was stripped down to bare, functional
basics - something akin to an Arctic research station, or 1960's Russian
space hardware. Ironically, by designing completely for function, the sets
and props took on a simple but creepy beauty of their own.
For the station itself, we
assumed that it was built from some pre-assembled structures that
were attached on-location. We supposed that some type of plastic/concrete
material was used to create forms and environmentally seal the building.
Since it was an experimental facility, we figured that small and sparse
(i.e. cheap) was the order of the day. If the research paid
off, the facility would eventually be expanded, and the existing
structure would be used as a "contractor's trailer" of sorts.
The temporary nature of
the structure is exemplified by the lack of a ladder to get in and out of
supply ships. Since outside visits were few and far between, a heavy
rope would suffice.
We surmised that space would be
at a premium - hence a multi-purpose room for dining, medical aid, and
(Drawings by Carol Clouse,
production designer of Ascension)