Meet Rowland Jefferies Cutler,
production designer and art director for Saving Dinah
Saving Dinah Productions was fortunate to have the talented Toronto production designer/art director, Rowland Jefferies Cutler, generously volunteering his time and expertise on the sets of Saving Dinah. Not only does Rowland design for film and television, he also is a sought after interior decorator for many notable and prestigious clients; his specialty is ecologically-sustainable interior design.
Animal Alliance and Saving Dinah Productions have much to thank Rowland and his partner Zana Ancerl for having provided us with professional furniture, props and police cars hot off the sets of some of Toronto’s hottest TV shows. Zana is a buyer with several popular TV programs shot in Toronto. Without Rowland and Zana, the footage of Saving Dinah would not look as good as it does. And it does look good.
Lucky for me, Rowland graciously agreed to let me interview him about his professional work as well as his love for animals.
Karen: Rowland, you have a relationship with Animal Alliance of Canada. Could you tell me something about that?
Rowland: My partner Zana and I have donated and been on the Animal Alliance of Canada mailing list for years, which led to our meeting Liz and thru Liz, Stephen Best and Barbara Kyle.
(Liz, of course, is Liz White, the executive director of Animal Alliance and the executive producer of Saving Dinah. Stephen Best and Barbara Kyle make up the writing team behind the script, Saving Dinah, and Stephen, who is the founder of Environmental Voters and the force behind the Animal Alliance Environment Voters federal political party, also directed the production.)
Karen: What is it that you do for a living?
Rowland: I am a Toronto-based, freelance designer with a background in film production as Set Decorator, Art Director and Production Designer, and Interior Design. Visit: www.sustainable-living.ca
Karen: Liz mentioned that you had some connection to the film, Easy Rider, and were also in a rock band. I’d love to hear about this.
Rowland: I managed a musical group The Holy Modal Rounders and negotiated for several of their songs to be incorporated in the film. Group affiliations The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and the Jon Lee Group.
Karen: Why did you offer to volunteer for the set design on Saving Dinah and what made you personally interested in the project of Saving Dinah?
Rowland: Both the writing and the subject offered something of quality to work with. As Production Designer and Artistic Director, my job is to visually interpret the story and add a sense of allure, drama and glamour to the sets and character of the actors.
Karen: You have created incredible sets for Saving Dinah. Do you have any favourites and if so, why?
Rowland: No. They all sell the story equally.
Karen: Has there been one memorable day on the Saving Dinah set that you could tell about? It could be a
great day or a tough day that stands out in your memory.
Rowland: Each day was an incredible success in visual and composition dynamics. Stephen, ( who was brilliant with the cast in pulling stellar performances from them) at the end of the day came away with great footage. Some days were more challenging because of the record breaking temperatures.
Karen: Do you live with companion dog? If so, what breed?
Rowland: This is one of the few times we haven’t had a dog. Our last dog , ‘Singi’ , was a Basenji .
Karen: Has there been an experience with a dog that has changed your life? If so, how?
Rowland: Companion animals enrich life. Their unconditional love heals. They keep you in touch with your soul.
Karen: Did you know anything about the issues that companion animals face before Saving Dinah? If so, what? And how did you learn of them?
Rowland: Yes, for many years, through Animal Alliance and other animal cause organizations. Dinah is important because the plot sheds light on animal cruelty and the human condition and ‘arrangements’ that allow it. A zeitgeist for issues that need to be addressed. It has ‘cult’ potential.
Karen: How has working on the Saving Dinah project changed you?
Rowland: I’ve lost weight ! Hah !
Karen: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? Your family? The work or hobbies you have outside of theatre? Anything?
Rowland: Thru my partner, Zana’s connections, the Dinah production was able to have expensive scenes with police uniform$, police car$, a police $tation, a complete ho$pital room, co$tumes, fabric$, pillow$ etc.,which our budget could not afford. Zana Claus made it possible!
Karen: Where do you go from here? Will you be working on another set or designing a home?
Rowland: We are breaking ground on an Alternative energy house design of mine ECOHAUS 1300 (using solar and passive solar materials, heat storing concrete floors) and other off grid solutions. Visit: www.sustainable-designbuild.ca
Karen: Wow! That’s all I can think to say! Rowland, you can design for me any time. Can you design around dust bunnies of dog and cat fur? But I do want to add that Rowland is one of the most gracious and humble professionals I have met in the film industry and we could not have been more fortunate to have him and his partner Zana contributing their talents and genious to our production. When we screen Saving Dinah, you can be sure that Rowland and Zana’s stamp will be on every scene.