Making the move into features is always challenging but, for production designer Anna Rhodes, it was particularly so. While working on 2021 Star of Tomorrow Raine Allen-Miller’s feature directing debut Rye Lane last year, Rhodes not only had to navigate filmmaking under pandemic conditions, but also while heavily pregnant.

“I had to coax myself into doing it,” says Rhodes with a laugh. “I’m not sure I would have done it for any other director.”

Rhodes and Miller have a long collaborative relationship, forged on commercials for the likes of Stella Artois, Nike and Virgin. “Raine and I are always aligned, creatively, so I’m never afraid to put any idea out there,” she says. It also helped that Rye Lane, which follows two young people who meet after they have both been dumped, was shot in Peckham and Brixton, areas of south London Rhodes knows well.

She also credits her experience on shorts (including Eva Riley’s Diagnosis), commercials (for everything from Ted Baker to the Brit Awards) and music videos (such as Kanye West’s ‘All Day’, directed by Steve McQueen) as being “worth its weight in gold. The problem-solving aspect of working with such tight deadlines helped when it came to solving issues like all the shops being closed because of the pandemic.”

Having studied graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, after which she worked for MTV, Rhodes was introduced to the idea of working in film and television around 2008, when she accompanied one of her colleagues to a music video shoot. The producer noticed her attention to detail and told her she should be in the art department — Rhodes “felt like all of the dots connected”.

Working on an eclectic mix of projects since then, she has always had the same career ethos. “From a very early point, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to look around at what other designers were doing. And I’m passionate about finding a way of working that is conducive to family life, and finding people to collaborate with who share those values. I want to show other female production designers that it is possible. I want to make amazing work, and the idea that being a woman, or a mother, means I can’t do that is bullshit.”

Contact: Lee Hickman, Wizzo & Co