Interview: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ PD Markos Keyto

Markos Keyto - Courtesy Markos Keyto
Markos Keyto - Courtesy Markos Keyto /

Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. and starring Cam Gigandet, Jason Patric, Natalie Burn, and Orlando Jones, Til Death Do Us Part has the following plot summary: “After bailing on her wedding, a former bride-to-be must fight off her ex-groom and seven angry killer groomsmen in order to survive the night.” We talked with production designer Markos Keyto about his work on this action-oriented comedy-horror flick. Released by Born to Burn Films, Til Death Do Us Part has already been in theaters and will surely hit streaming services soon. [NOTE: Some minor grammatical edits were applied to the answers for ease of reading and clarity.]

Interview: ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ PD Markos Keyto

1428 ELM: What inspired you to take on the role of production designer for Til Death Do Us
Part, given the action-packed plot? Is there anything that sets it apart as being unique?

MARKOS KEYTO: Timothy Woodward Jr. (director) and Jeffrey Reddick (producer, known for the Final Destination franchise) know that if they offer me a slightly crazy script, I usually turn it into something even crazier.  Working with them is always fun, so it’s hard to say no.  We also had Pablo Diez as DP and that makes it more attractive since together, we are capable of creating very special atmospheres.

And of course, we had Natalie Burn whom I adore and who gave us absolute confidence for the role since she is a brave actress with extraordinary stage skills.  I knew that all the action scenes would be unique.  Also, having her in action on set is an unbeatable experience, you want to take care of her and protect her like a puppy but you realize that she is a wild animal that one should rather protect oneself from.

1428 ELM: How did you approach designing the wedding scene that sets the stage for the rest of the events in Til Death Do Us Part? Were there any specific challenges in creating this
pivotal setting?

MARKOS KEYTO: The wedding gave us the opportunity to start our film in a bright and naive way. In it, we had to convey a sense of peace and happiness with a sense of camaraderie among all the
friends, which would allow us to create a strong contrast with the real world of our assassins, devoid of emotions or feelings between them. From here we would leave towards the disaster of no return. Assembling this eclectic group of assassins, and having them all seem candid and innocent to us, was perhaps an interesting challenge.
Our group of assassins was not willing to miss “the dance,” so they go in search of it. The setting of the house was important to create the climax. This had to seem beautiful, mysterious, labyrinthine and at the same time I wanted to turn it into a dance floor where the succession of scenes with each of the friends became a concatenation of “bloody” dances/fights with our bride. Each of our assassins has his moment, his space, his light, and his music.  Perhaps someone might think that the fact that I used so many practical lights and inappropriate coloring would make it less real, but I was not interested in creating a real world, I wanted to have a dance floor for our “Bloody Dances.”

Til Death Do Us Part: Bloody dances

Til Death Do Us Part
Til Death Do Us Part – Courtesy Projection PR /

1428 ELM: The film’s plot involves the bride fighting off the scorned groom and his seven
best men. How did you visually convey the intensity and suspense of these
action sequences through production design?

MARKOS KEYTO: The main setting is the house in the middle of nowhere, and I liked playing with the idea of a container/terrarium, full of large windows. She would be our trapped reptile and they would try to enter one by one to hunt her. The windows would allow us to see the dimensionality of planes in the same scene; the glasses could present us with reflections of our girl’s duality and would allow us to understand independent actions from the same spatial-temporal point.

Also, I love building the sets through layers and layers, among other things because that’s how I manage to integrate the characters into the space. Light always helps me to highlight this dimensionality and that is why I usually incorporate so many practical lights. The color in these lights is also another fundamental tool to recreate the relevant atmospheres and to work with symbolism.

1428 ELM: Til Death Do Us Part seems to blend romance and action genres. How did
you strike a balance between creating a setting and an environment suitable for
intense action scenes?

MARKOS KEYTO: Well, the color treatment plays an important role. The warm tones reinforced with games of contrasts and also the use of shadows and textures on the walls, furniture, and
space transmit to us on the one hand the cozy feeling of protection, peace, and a bit romantic. At the same time, they allow me to create a disturbing atmosphere of intrigue and action.

At the end of the film, we find ourselves in a container/terrarium with the groom, but this time caged behind that large industrial window that helps us to give the desired color and to play with the textured shadow of the marquetry structure of this window, which together with elements typical of a romantic evening such as the piano, cake, strawberries, rose petals, or champagne, allowed us to create that duality between romanticism and violence that we were looking for.

1428 ELM: Were there any particular themes or motifs that you incorporated into the
production design to enhance the storytelling and overall atmosphere of the

MARKOS KEYTO: The dance. I always think about dance. From the beginning, I thought that the last thing I want to miss at a wedding is not the moment of yes, but what comes after, that dance and that succession of exchanges between guests. Weddings are not normal parties, we intend to celebrate “until death do us part” but we go to them even if we have our own partners, like animals in heat wearing our most colorful, exultant, and sexy plumage. Here in the film, I was attracted to the idea that even if our bride had fled the altar, we would not miss that moment of the dance. I liked the idea of everyone wanting to “dance” with her.

Creating without prejudice and past influences

1428 ELM: Did you draw from any of your past work while working on Til Death Do Us
Part? If so, how did it influence your approach?

MARKOS KEYTO: I guess I don’t have control over my subconscious, but the truth is that I try to create without prejudice and influences. In fact, I don’t even like being given references to other films, or using them. I am not very technical when it comes to developing the design in a movie, think that I start from the study of the dramaturgy of the script. The truth is that I use Stanislavsky much more than most actors.

1428 ELM: The groom and his best men play significant roles in Til Death Do Us Part. Did you design spaces to reflect their personalities and the conflicts they bring to the story?

MARKOS KEYTO: Not really. The space in which we meet them is the house and it is designed with the idea of molding itself according to the action. It is curious that sometimes when you think of a multipurpose place that serves as a wild card, you think of a blank canvas, a black box or a kind of cyclorama where the elements, walls, or furniture do not disturb us, but I always think more of a chameleon; an animal with rough skin and multiple textures, somewhat baroque and full of details, yet capable of blending into any environment.

Our house is like that, chameleonic and each character finds his reflection and his personality in it without disturbing each of the others to find theirs.

1428 ELM: In a film with action-driven scenes, attention to detail is essential. Can you
share any specific design elements that were strategically placed to enhance the
movie’s narrative or intensify the action sequences?

MARKOS KEYTO: I usually put a multitude of details that, although they are not perceived, help the
development of the plot. To cite some, for the transition to the flashbacks in Puerto Rico, we used the element of the boat, so I put several models in the decoration of the house that helped us with this.  Also, I used lemons in practically all the locations. They were in the church, in the house, the yacht.

I also used lemons in practically all the locations. They were in the church, in the house, in the
yacht.  And this was because I like to use hidden symbols in every movie I make. This helps me put
some more precise seasoning in the story I want to tell. The lemon is a fruit used by many cultures
for various types of rituals. Many of them are based on fidelity and vitality. I liked the idea of ​​thinking that this society of assassins used it as part of their rituals as well. They also transmit energy and freshness, and most importantly they are “acidic” like our story.

Til Death Do Us Part and the Squirrel Girl connection?

1428 ELM: Were there any real-life locations or cultural inspirations that influenced the
overall look and feel of the movie’s production design?

MARKOS KEYTO: I liked to treat the style of the film based on the world of comics and for this Erica Henderson was a good reference, without a doubt, her work transports me. The
Squirrel Girl is one of my favorites and of course, Assassin Nation where she precisely portrays a hostile and dark world but with her fresh, elegant, and somewhat naive line that is very similar to how I normally see the world.

1428 ELM: As the production designer, what were some of the most rewarding aspects
of working on Til Death Do Us Part?

MARKOS KEYTO: I had a lot of fun with my friends, this was the most rewarding. In addition to the
admirable work of our actress, Natalie is quite a spectacle on the set, and all her godparents were spectacular, especially my dear Pancho Moler. We used a lot of practical effects, and to keep our actors from getting hurt, we tried to adapt all the tools they hit each other with.

With a very small team together with my assistant Andrea Figueroa, we enjoyed ourselves and did exactly what we wanted with the resources we had.

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We’d like to thank Markos Keyto for answering our questions, and feel free to check out Til Death Do Us Part when it becomes available for streaming!