Leslie McDonald has worked as Production Designer and Art Director for the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry for over 25 years. Her clients include Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Sony, Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures. She is a member of the ADG (Art Directors Guild) and AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).
Some of Leslie McDonald’s most recent projects include Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez), The Magnificent Seven (Antoine Fuqua), Lincoln (Stephen Spielberg), Philomena (Stephen Frears), and Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter). Most recently, Leslie completed work as the Supervising Art Director under Production Designer Derek Hill for The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the 1961 western classic. Leslie’s numerous sets included richly- textured 1876 western towns complete with saloons, brothels, gold mines, banks and churches. A journey to find the Magnificent Seven went through Indian burial grounds, cattle drives, gunslinger saloons, a mountain cabin and a mansion in Sacramento among other places.
As Art Director for Lincoln (Academy Award for Best Production Design), Leslie recreated the interior of the residential wing of the 1860’s White House. Utilizing intense historical visual research; paintings and photographs, she expressed the public and private spaces incorporated into Lincoln’s residence during the period. The set design captured the Washington Monument partially built, Lincoln’s desk blocking a doorway connected to Mary’s boudoir, hand carved marble fireplaces, and Civil War maps painstakingly recreated for the current battles. As Art Director for the US filming of Philomena, a BBC production starring Judy Dench, the design included a rural catholic church, solemnly located in the Virginia countryside, a residence for a lost son and a hot dog vendor in front of the Lincoln Memorial for Philomena to witness America’s excess.
As Production Designer for Hollywoodland, a Focus Film about a fictionalized account of the circumstances surrounding the death of actor George Reeves, the star of the 1950’s television series “Adventures of Superman”, Leslie transformed parts of Toronto, Canada into 1950s Hollywood. Leslie recreated the famous clubs of Hollywood and New York, including Ciro’s, Musso & Frank’s, The Coconut Grove, and Toots Shor’s. She captured the neighborhoods of 1950s LA in a quiet, understated way.
Leslie McDonald has worked as the Production Designer on many films, including Jingle All the Way (Brian Levant), Indian in the Cupboard (Frank Oz) , Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Sara Sugarman), Intolerable Cruelty (Joel & Ethan Coen), The Shaggy Dog (Brian Robbins), and Out of the Cold (Alexsandr Bravskiy) filmed in St. Petersberg, Russia and Taliinn Estonia. For Indian in the Cupboard two worlds were necessary to tell the story as a little boys magical 6” friend comes to life. Overscale sets allowed the Indian to run rampant in Omri’s bedroom.
During her early career, Leslie worked as an Art Director with Production Designer Dennis Gassner on award-winning films, including Earth Girls are Easy (Julian Temple) Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and Hudsucker Proxy (Joel and Ethan Coen), The Grifters and Hero (Stephen Frears), Field of Dreams (Phil Robinson), and Bugsy (Barry Levinson) Academy Award for Best Production Design. Leslie was also the Art Director for: Shy People (Andrey Konchalovskiy), Forrest Gump (Robert Zemekis), and Minorty Report (Steven Speilberg) ,
In addition to working in the film industry, Leslie has worked in theater, music videos and videography. She designed sets for Equity Waver theater productions at many Los Angeles theaters, including the Freud Theater at UCLA, where she designed sets for the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival’s production of “Agamemnon” directed by Steven Berkoff. Leslie also designed sets for many early music videos, including “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes,” (The Red Hot Chili Peppers), which was a personal favorite for its wacky and colorful recreation of the Hollywood Hills and black light body painting on the Chili Peppers. Leslie has been the Production Designer for numerous commercials for well-known clients, including Mercedes, British Airways, Intel, e-Trade and Award winning Herding Cats commercial for EDS. Perhaps one of her most dare-devilish project involved being the videographer for two speed record-setting flights around the world with pilot Brooke Knapp for which she first traveled around the world pole to pole and then later circumnavigated the globe. Her edited sequences were seen on “Life styles for the Rich and Famous”.
Leslie McDonald earned an MFA from UCLA and a MArch from UVA where she has been an adjunct professor at the School of Architecture.