Production Designer: John “J” Michael Riva
J. Michael Riva born June 28th 1948 in Manhattan, New York. John actually died June 7th, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana during production of Django Unchained (2012) from a stroke. "Michael became a dear friend on this picture, as well as a magnificent, talented colleague. Every member of our ‘Django’ crew family is devastated by this tragic loss as we persevere on his wonderful sets." - Quentin Tarantino
He grew up in NYC and observed his parents (William [art director] and Maria Riva [actress-author]) and grandparents (Rudolph [film editor], and Marlene Dietrich[actress]). After a European education, he returned to California and enrolled to UCLA to pursue a career in production design.
His first piece of work was I Never Promised you a Rose Garden (1977) eventhough he was uncredited. I think his career started to take off after he worked on Halloween (1981).
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [Designer branch].
I chose J. Michael Riva because of the variety of genres he has worked with. Going from horror (Halloween II), to action (Lethal Weapon), to drama (A few Good Men), to superhero movies (Iron Man and Spider Man).
One of my favorites of his is Django Unchanied, which is actually how i found J. Michael Riva. His work with Django is incredible and one main thing John worked on was the colors and colors are important to John “they’re mood establishers”. He saw Calvin Candie as the devil so he surrounded him with as much red as possible. For Schultz and Django “they were western heroes, they were the warm nicotine and ambers” and kept those with each set and made it contrast.