Oscar for Theatre Design alumnus Steve Summersgill

Alumnus Steve Summersgill (BA Hons Theatre Design 2001) has gone from selling popcorn at the Palace Cinema is Devizes, Wiltshire where he grew up, to being part of an Oscar-winning team honored at the 87th Academy Awards.

BA (Hons) Theatre Design alumnus Steve Summersgill has gone from selling popcorn at the Palace Cinema in Devizes, Wiltshire where he grew up to being part of an Oscar-winning team honoured in Los Angeles at the 87th Academy Awards on 22 February 2015. Steve, who graduated from NTU in 2001. was Art Director on The Grand Budapest Hotel which received an Oscar for Best Production Design. But instead of drinking champagne and rubbing shoulders with stars, he was asleep in bed in the spare room of his mum’s house here in England.

He said: "I had an invitation to be at the Oscars, but I had just flown back from Cape Town and I had to be in Germany for Monday and couldn't face another long flight. I had planned to stay up and watch the awards on television with my family, but I was just too tired. I heard the news early the next morning from my mum. My phone also started to go crazy with messages. My initial reaction was that I wished that I had stayed up to watch my colleagues receive the award. Then I had a celebratory coffee."

Whilst on the set of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Steve was able to get to know one of his heroes, actor Bill Murray. He said: "Bill was in Ghostbusters when I was a boy and made a big impression on me as an actor so it was great to meet him. He was very friendly and open. Being in close proximity to the talent you do get to see some of the cast from time to time. Ralph Fiennes was a gentleman as you’d expect."

Steve, who has also worked on The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, worked on the 1930s sets and all the prison sequences for the film which also took Oscars for Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Make-up and Hairstyling.

Steve's big break came after he graduated in 2001 and went interrailing through Europe. A tutor at NTU had mentioned the Barrandov film studios in Prague and suggested he take along his portfolio. "After a few days in Prague I decided to go cold calling. Looking back now I was very bold. I had no idea what was involved in film making or art direction but I was intrigued and had nothing to lose."

Steve managed to get a job as a junior model maker on the film From Hell and knew it was the job for him. He, said goodbye to his friends and stayed in Prague for three years climbing the Art Department ladder. He said: "It's funny to remember my time at Devizes cinema. I've always enjoyed cinema but when I was selling popcorn for a Saturday matinee I could only have dreamed of being associated with such a prestigious award."

Oscar for Theatre Design alumnus Steve Summersgill

Published on 4 March 2015
  • Category: School of Art & Design

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