A little write up –or rather a series of quotes– in the most recent issue of Vanity Fair magazine (April 2014). The story explores the ins and outs of creating reproduction artwork for films, specifically films about art. In the case of Todd van Hulzen it draws on his experience as a designer and artist for the film Girl with a Pearl Earring. For this film from 2003 Todd organized the creation of approximately 75 different painting from historical sources. Most of them were reproduced digitally, but several were painted by hand, particularly the paintings on the easels seen in various stages of development. Todd was also a hand double for Colin Firth, an instructor in the techniques of painting and grinding of historical pigments and an art-director creating the set designs of the canal-side house of the artist Vermeer.
Stranger things have happened, but finally after almost 20 years, a film for which Todd did art work and design is going in premier— after a fashion. George Sluizer’s Dark Blood, which was the last film of River Phoenix, has been cobbled together from loose footage and some strategic narration to form an interesting bit of filmmaking. The NRC Handelsblad calls it “a curiosity”.
Todd tells us, “Dark Blood was one of the first films on which I started making actual set designs for Ben van Os. Of course Ben put me to work in any way that suited him, so I also drove his car, wrote his correspondence and ran his errands. But chiefly I was hired to paint art and sculpt props. I made all of the wooden Indian figures in the film. I was also put to work as River Phoenix’s “whittling coach”. We sat for hours on the edge of a dessert mesa just carving on wooden blocks.”