“The Imitation Game” Production Designer Doesn’t Need Industry Buzz to Know the Film is Special


By Alecea Rush 02-21-15

Morten Tyldum’s “The Imitation Game” tells the true story of a particularly odd mathematician named Alan Turner. Turner, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is faced with a huge task – breaking an “unbreakable Nazi code” and ending World War II. The movie has been nominated for over 108 awards including 8 oscars. One of those nominations belongs to Maria Djurkovic who worked as the production designer on the film.

Djurkovic tells WEBN she knew the movie was special way before all of the industry buzz. “I’m very scripted driven, I have to feel completely inspired by a script, so that was the stage that I felt this was something special and that I wanted to do it,” says Djurkovic. Djurkovic interviewed and accepted the job as set designer over a Skype interview and then began her research.

Luckily the Bletchley Park Museum, located in the United Kingdom, has a working replica of the machine “Christopher” that Turner creates to break the Nazi code. Recreating the machine was not an easy task. Djurkovic and her team had to ensure they portrayed it correctly at each stage of construction. Tyldum and Djurkovic also had to make sure the machine was cinematically intriguing without compromising the integrity of Turner’s creation.

“We tried to make something that looked interesting plus something that won’t make you look silly when people who actually understand how it works look at it,” Djurkovic tells WEBN. Djurkovic and Tyldum decided to make the machine 2-feet taller, they exaggerated the red wires and opened the machines sidings to expose more of the working insides.

Djurkovic threaded that mechanical engineering aspect of the film into various details of her design.

“In the 1940s floral wallpaper, clothes and upholstery would be very normal. We excluded that completely,” says Djurkovic. “It’s not something that you’re aware of unless you’re looking for it, but every single piece of wallpaper in that film apart from his school days is dot dot dash dash, it’s sort of Morse code, its geometric.”

The costume director Sammy Sheldon carried that into the clothing as well.

The nominations and awards that the “The Imitation Game” is receiving confirms what Djurkovic has know since her initial script reading – that this would be a special project. She tells WEBN that being recognized as a group for the work done on the film felt great because it was such a collaborative effort. “This film had a very happy group of people making it, we all email each other, there is a continued kind of friendship…so to be recognized as a group is pretty nice, says Djurkovic.”

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