Hollywood Comes to APU

by Melissa Nicholas '05

"It’s a fun business--the monkey business," Hollywood Production Designer Henry Bumstead said on Tuesday, January 28, in APU’s Wilden Lecture Hall. Bumstead gave an open lecture on filmmaking and the movie business for APU staff and students after Mondays’ screening of the classic film To Kill a Mockingbird, of which he designed and built the sets. Students and staff asked questions after Bumstead shared his experiences in movie making.

Bumstead shared many stories from working on such movies as Vertigo (1958), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). Fifteen years of his career were spent working with Director Alfred Hitchcock, of whom he nostalgically reminisced, "I learned a lot from him, he was a great film director." Bumstead was also eager to give advice to forthcoming filmmakers in the audience: “Always try to make the set look like the people live there.”

After the lecture, students interested in future careers in film making inquired such subjects as copyright, film technique, and aging sets. Bumstead answered all questions with good humor, describing many of the actors that he worked with in Hollywood. Monica Ganas, Ph.D., professor of communication studies, commented on Bumstead’s work: “He has the ability to make common things look almost mythic.”

After more than 60 years of working in Hollywood, Bumstead has retired from set design. He has not completely left the movie business however, he is still on the Academy each year when the Oscar season rolls around.