buzzfeed: An alum of Columbia University’s architecture program, Kosinski took his fluency with digital design tools and fashioned himself into a filmmaker, first in a series of short films, then as a director of ads for Halo 3 and BMW, and finally making his feature debut with 2010’s TRON: Legacy. All of them carry a distinctive Kosinski-ness, a futuristic outlook matched with a sleek, modern aesthetic.
As is usually the case with Kosinski, it all started with an image. “I wrote this short treatment for a film about eight years ago, and when I did that, I created three key images on my own.”
Along with the “Bubble Ship” Cruise’s character uses to travel the landscape, and an arresting shot of the top of the Empire State Building sticking out of an expanse of black sand, Kosinski drafted what became known as the “Sky Tower.”
“I built the initial 3-D sketch models of the Sky Tower,” says Koskinski. “A very simple model compared to what ends up in the film, but the basic concept of it was there from the very beginning. That’s how it all started.”
For the 38-year-old director, noodling around with sophisticated three-dimensional modeling software is just how he shakes his ideas out of his head. “In architecture school, I became very fluent in working that way,” he says. “For me, it’s almost like a sketchpad. It allows me to actually shade [the structure] and light it. It’s not photo-real, but it’s enough to see the idea.”
The set designs in both Oblivion and TRON: Legacy were both driven in part by the respective film’s larger stories and their need for a certain aesthetic unity. But there is no escaping their Kosinski-ness, either. “I just loved the architecture of architects like Mies van der Rohe,” says the director, “whose famous saying was ‘Less is more.’ He also said, ‘God is in the details.’ I think those are two things that stick with me in my approach to design.”
All images © Universal Pictures