From slasher movies to slavery: Creating the look of ’12 Years a Slave’

Feb 7, 2014

A production still from Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave.”; Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

With nine Oscar nominations, “12 Years a Slave” is looking to top a fruitful awards season with the much coveted Best Picture award next month.  “12 Years a Slave” tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and forced into slavery. What follows is a fight for survival and dignity for more than a decade.  

Set in pre-Civil War America, the story hinges not only on the acting, but the re-creation of a bygone era. This job fell to set designer, Adam Stockhausen, who is nominated in the Best Achievement in Production Design category.  

Nothing in his career to date would suggest an interest in historical period drama. Past projects include several Wes Anderson films,  the slasher horror “Scream 4” and romance flick, “The Switch.”

Watch the trailer for ’12 Years a Slave’ to get a sense for Stockhausen’s work:


Adam Stockhausen, Oscar-nominated production designer of Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years a Slave.’ Stockhausen’s other credits include production design on Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and Wes Craven’s ‘Scream 4,’– and art direction on Wes Anderson’s ‘Darjeeling Limited’ and Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Synecdoche, New York.’

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