Septic Tanks Inspired the Look of Dune: Part Two’s Giedi Prime

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief spoke to Dune: Part Two production designer Patrice Vermette about the film’s depiction of Giedi Prime. Vermette discussed how he got inspiration while driving, plus what influenced the planet’s architecture. Dune: Part Two is out now on digital and on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Tyler Treese: The homeworld of the Harkonnens is just so visually striking. Can you speak to the design of the planet because it looks so different from what we see on Arrakis?

Patrice Vermette: The brief from Denis was a planet that had its color sucked out because of the black sun. So he was trying to figure out a way to have a black-and-white planet but with a different feel. I’ll come to that later because of the way they shot it, I think you probably know, but it’s not just black and white, but it’s infrared black and white.

For the design of the architecture for Part One, the main structure I was influenced by John Portman, an architect who was making hotels. I love these big atriums with balconies. I was thinking, okay, if they’re not atriums, let’s put it horizontal instead of vertical. I started playing with those curves. Denis always asked me to create a world that could be like molded black plastic. So that was for Part One.

On Part Two, I was driving an hour and a half away outside of Montreal, and I came across this field filled with septic tanks. It was a septic tank wholesaler and [there were] black plastic molded septic tanks with a bit of dust on them, like a 30% type of gloss. The sun was hitting them, and it looked like Giedi Prime. You take away the trees that were in the far background. It looked like, my God, it’s Giedi Prime.

You never know when inspiration might strike.

The symbolism between septic tanks, obviously what a septic tank contains, it’s similar to what the Harkonnens are, right? So, I started taking photographs, researching molds of septic tanks, and then play with those lines and how structurally they’re made. I started designing with my artist. We played with those lines and created all the rules and all the settings that were needed for the movie.

For Lady Fenring, for instance, her bedroom, I was imagining she’s waiting on the bed for Feyd to come and Feyd comes in, and he’s walking on the floor as if he’s walking underneath a giant spider with legs because she’s kind of a black widow. Behind the bed, it’s like a spider with its legs all crawled in the middle. I thought it was just good to support the story as well in a symbolic type of way.

Were there any challenges with filming in infrared that affected what you were doing?

Listen, for what I was doing, I was pleasantly surprised that [there were] no [issues], but it was a big challenge for costumes and for makeup for Jacqueline West. We found out that some of the [costumes], like Lady Fenring’s veil, for instance, which was black, it came out white. So we made a lot of camera tests in interior, exterior, in the sunlight to figure out what is [impacting it]. Is it some side of textile that doesn’t work that? So, so that was a big [problem]. We were scratching our heads around that.

But you know, sometimes just like for Lady Fenring, her veil, it was kind of cool that it’s black when it’s not affected by the atmosphere of Giedi Prime, but once she steps into the natural light, it becomes white. So we played with that, and sometimes she needed to research fabric that would actually stay black, like for the Baron, for instance.

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