"Many Colombians have been in Hollywood, but none of them has succeeded as much as him. He is the true star.", said Paola Turbay, a Colombian actress who lives in the world movies capital. It’s the best summary for the Colombian Carlos Barbosa. He didn't imagine that his life would end up like this,
when he decided to drop his Architecture career at the prestigious Los Andes University. "My parents almost had a heart attack because I was about to graduate" he recalls. Despite their efforts to dissuade him, when he had 21 years he went to New Orleans, where he finished his career with a scholarship in Tulane University. Today, 30 years later, he is sure to have made the right choice.
With his impressive resume, this is an evidence. Carlos is one of the most famous production designers in Hollywood, thanks to his theatre stage sets of successful TV series such as Lost and 24. His task is to create the physical universe where the story unfolds. One of his most ambitious projects is Terra Nova, a Fox television series produced by Steven Spielberg and recently released in Latin America. The plot is about a group of people, that live in year 2149 and travel to prehistoric times.
The Colombian said he became interested in design since he was a kid. He remembers that he liked to play with Lego pieces and enjoyed the holidays because his family let him make the Christmas crib. He was always an outstanding student, and even before he decided to study at Los Andes university, his dream had always been to live abroad. "Now I know that I would never had in Bogotá the opportunities I've been finding here" he admits. Although he had to work as a waiter in a hotel when he arrived to New Orleans at the end everything was worth it. He got his Architect degree with honors and his senior thesis, a student housing project, became a reality in his campus.
He was soon engaged in the architectural firm of Charles Moore in Los Angeles, but he realized that this wasn't his thing. "I was completely disappointed with the corporate lifestyle," he admitted. While figuring out what to do, he made a road trip in the United States and on his way through Yerington, Nevada, he visited some customers whom he had designed a ranch. "They invited me to dinner and they presented me to their neighbor that happened to be a retired actress. She put me in touch with his cousin who was a film producer and that’s how I got my first job in Hollywood."
Carlos started as a construction coordinator of the scenery of the movie Shakes the Clown with Robin Williams. Then he was called to participate in films such as The Mask of Zorro and a remake of Psycho, an Alfred Hitchcock classic. This allowed him to enter into the sets of important TV series such as 24, a program about the dangerous missions of the Agent Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland. The pilot of that program earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Best Art Direction in 2001 and since then he haven’t rest. Everyone wants to work with Carlos.
He designed the set of CSI: Miami and in 2004, ABC asked him to design the island of Lost, the popular series that chronicles the adventures of the survivors of a plane crash in the South Pacific. He made 11 episodes of the first season and then agreed to create the scenery of the first chapter of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, written by Aaron Sorkin. "I don't like to stay in the same project for a long time. I prefer to learn new things and assume new challenges," says Carlos.
His work starts in the very beginning, when the history is written, and he doesn’t rest until the shooting starts. First, he reads the script and then design plans, makes the models, choose the locations and executes its proposal with the department of visual art: "It is an intense process. They give me a date that can not be moved because the actors have a tight schedule. There are projects in which we have worked with over two hundred people, including designers, decorators, painters and carpenters working day and night". In the end, his best reward is not only to see his name in the credits, but succeed in "a unique setting on the screen".