The casual movie-goer rarely sticks around during the credits. Outside of the actors, directors and producers, many names involved with the making of a film go unnoticed; however, the production of any film (small or large) requires a ton of help from everyone on staff – from the key grip in charge of the camera equipment, to the production designers. With the recent frenzy of post-credit teaser scenes (See: The Avengers), average moviegoers are now forced to sit through the entirety of movie credits – and assuming you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed the name J. Michael Riva listed as the production designer for some of your all-time favorite films.
In sad news, Variety is reporting that Riva has passed away at the age of 63. The cause of his death is unknown at the time.
J. Michael Riva hailed from New York, and virtually had show business etched in his genes. His father, Will, worked as a set designer on Broadway, and his mother, Maria, was an actress who worked in such films as The Scarlet Empress in 1934 and Scrooged with Bill Murray in 1988.
Prior to winning an Emmy in 2007 for his work on the “79th Annual Academy Awards”, Riva was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 for his role as production designer in The Color Purple.
Most recently, Riva served as the production designer for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio (watch the trailer for a great showcase of his work). Riva also held the same position for the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in 1996 (Atlanta), and has worked on as many as 40 films – including The Golden Child, Lethal Weapon, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and the forthcoming The Amazing Spider-man, which stars Andrew Garfield as Spidey.
So, the next time you attend a film, attempt to sit through the credits (even if there’s no post-credit scene) and pay attention to some of the folks who would normally go unnoticed. Remember, some of your favorite films would not have looked or felt so good without them. J. Michael Riva would have certainly agreed.
J. Michael Riva’s last two pieces of work hit theaters later this year. The Amazing Spider-man opens on July 3rd, 2012, and Django Unchained is due out on December 25th, 2012.