If you could reinvent your life, what would your dream job be? We just came across one that runs a pretty close race in our book – that of an Art Curator on movies. This little known career is responsible for all the art you see in movies, helping tell the story of films in a subtle way that an audience might find imperceptible but packs no less of a punch. Leading the pack of art curators in film is Fanny Pereire, a friend of KOTUR and pretty much the best in the business. Here, she took some time out to explain to us what she does.

How would you describe what you do?

I basically curate the art for movies, choosing and arranging the use of art on movie sets. I’m as influential as the costume designer choosing the clothes or the hair and make up artist completing the look, or the set decorator choosing the desk. We’re the icing on the cake. I’ve worked on Wall Street 2, Changing Lanes with Samuel L Jackson and Ben Affleck, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Inside Luellen Davis (the next movie by the Cohen brothers) and right now I’m working on Nick Cassavetes’s new romantic comedy The Other Woman. I’ve been doing this for around 15 years.

What does your job involve?

It involves choosing all the art works that go on set. I find things that help to tell the story.  Then I also have to negotiate the copyrights to the images of all the art works, and either oversee the making of copies or the actual borrowing of the piece. Sometimes, the artist might make his own copy for the film, too. Once the pieces have arrive, I make sure they’re hung and displayed properly. And then, at the end, I have to oversee all the returns – of either originals or copies.

How do you use the art to tell the story?

Well, it can help explain what’s happening in a scene, or the art can be used to tell you about the character and what’s happening in his or her life.  For example, in Wall Street 2, I used lots of Richard Prince cowboy images, to show that the character was a financial cowboy. It’s like art as a metaphor in movies. In Changing lanes, I used an Alex Katz piece of a man walking on the beach in a character’s office when, at the time, he was debating whether or not he was going to leave his fast track life in New York. The image is right there throughout that scene – it says something and it can be very influential, it feeds the viewer information without them realizing it. In Confessions of Shopaholic, I had a portrait of Napoleon hanging behind the Media Empire CEO character. That told you a lot about who the person was sitting in front of it. The art gives all sorts of unspoken information. In The Other Woman, Cassavates’ film, Cameron Diaz’s character’s loft is all monochromatic because she’s this tough lawyer. I used lots of black and white photographs to show that she’s not a colorful character. Whereas Leslie Mann’s house in the same movie is much more joyful. It all depends on what we’re trying to say.

Do you always use the original art works?

Actually two thirds of the art I use is copies. I try not to have the real thing on set, whether it’s priceless or not. There are at least 150 people on a movie set, plus cameras and cables and all sorts, so why jeopardize an art work?  And often, when the shoot is over, I need to give proof that I’ve destroyed any copies we’ve made. That part can be sad but fun. If it’s a canvas, I cut them and have someone take a picture of me doing it and then send the cut pieces back to the artists.  We had built a replica Anthony Gormley structure for Changing Lanes, and I figured the best way to show that was destroyed was to send a little video. So we filmed ourselves dropping it from a crane!

What do you love most about your job?

It tells a story. And every job is different – every film is a new story. And once it’s done, we’re off, onto the next one.

Image: Fanny Pereire shot for the New York Times as seen here  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/fashion/30wall.html?_r=1&