105 – Nilo Rodis Jamero – Legendary Designer 1/2

In this episode of the Filmumentaries podcast, host Jamie Benning interviews Nilo Rodis-Jamero, a designer and production designer known for his work on films like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Johnny Mnemonic.

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They discuss Nilo’s experiences working with George Lucas, Phil Tippett, and Joe Johnston, as well as his collaborations with other renowned designers like Eiko Ishioka and Hayao Miyazaki. Nilo shares insights into his design process and the importance of simplicity and iconicity in his work. The conversation also touches on Nilo’s involvement in the design of the character Buz Lightyear in Toy Story and his experiences as a production designer on Johnny Mnemonic.

In this part of the conversation, Nilo discusses the challenges of working on movies with hard deadlines and limited budgets. He shares his experiences working with George Lucas and John Hughes, and how their approaches to filmmaking differed from the Hollywood norm. Nilo also compares working on Johnny Mnemonic and Explorers, both of which faced production difficulties. He highlights the importance of creative freedom and the impact of budget constraints on the filmmaking process. Nilo also shares insights into the differences between the film and video game industries, particularly in terms of discipline and the lack of a hard deadline in game development.

This is only part 1 of a long conversation. Part 2 is coming up soon!


  • Nilo Rodis Jamero has had a diverse and influential career as a designer and production designer in the film industry.
  • He has worked on iconic films like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Johnny Mnemonic.
  • Nilo has rubbed shoulders with renowned designers and filmmakers, including George Lucas, Phil Tippett, Joe Johnston, Eiko Ishioka, and Hayao Miyazaki.
  • His design process focuses on simplicity and creating designs that are easily recognizable and memorable.
  • Nilo’s work on the character Lunar Larry (who became Buzz Lightyear) in Toy Story showcases his ability to bring a character to life through design.
  • His experiences as a production designer on Johnny Mnemonic highlight the challenges and dynamics of the filmmaking process. Movies are often made with hard deadlines and limited budgets, which can pose challenges for filmmakers.
  • Working with directors like George Lucas and John Hughes, who prioritize creative freedom, can provide a different filmmaking experience.
  • Films like Johnny Mnemonic and Explorers faced production difficulties, which affected their final outcomes.
  • The film and video game industries have different approaches to discipline and deadlines, with games often lacking a hard deadline.
  • Budget constraints can impact the creative process and the ability to achieve the desired vision for a film.

Sound Bites

  • “I like design that are very simple to digest and then reward the viewer with more details as they zoom in.”
  • “I work in an increment of a month. So, if, you know, can we agree on my terms?”
  • “The essence of that character is right there. Facially, like his expressions, his costume, his stance, like it’s all there.”
  • “Movies are literally backed into a hard date, which is the release date.”
  • “The way Hollywood movies are made, it’s the opposite of that.”
  • “I learned how to do movies the way George makes movies.”

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