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Miles Teves

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Miles Teves
Biographical information



Salinas, California

Behind the scenes
First appearance

The Curse of the Black Pearl

Latest appearance

On Stranger Tides

Filmmaking role(s)

Concept Artist

Miles Teves is a Hollywood artist and conceptual designer who worked on television productions, films, and computer games. He illustrated the role-playing game, Jorune in the mid-1980s. Since then, his work had been more for the silver screen. Some of his credits include Explorers, RoboCop, The Witches of Eastwick, Total Recall, Batman & Robin, Hollow Man, Spider-Man, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Reign of Fire, Van Helsing, and Chronicles of Riddick. He studied sculpture at the Art Center College of Design before being discovered by Rob Bottin who hired Teves to work on Darkness for Legend. He had sculpted pieces as realistic as Tom Cruise's head for Interview with the Vampire and as fantastical as Kong in King Kong. Miles Teves worked in Visual Development as a concept artist, in the making of The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides.[1]


Pirates of the Caribbean

The Curse of the Black Pearl

In the summer of 2002, Teves would meet with director Gore Verbinski. For the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Verbinski had the outline of a story and was talking to Johnny Depp, but there was no art department set up yet. In its earliest stage of visual development, Miles Teves was hired for one week's work to take on some of the key moments in the fledgeling script. Another artist was already hired to do the character design, so Teves did a few key frames and sketches. Though he regretted having to leave the project and move on to another film, Mile Teves did have a chance to make his mark.[2]

Among his work, one of his drawings changed the film's script.[2] One of the scenes Verbinski wanted Teves to sketch out was a shot of a "crew of zombiefied pirates" jumping into the water and swimming over to a ship to attack it. But Teves felt that something was wrong about it and, knowing he was soon moving on to another project, he created a different concept. Teves had a vision of the "zombiefied pirates" walking on a dark ocean floor, lit only by moonbeams. Feeling it had an iconic impact that swimming zombies couldn't have, Teves drew and colored it before handing it to Verbinski the following week with his other artwork. A year later, Teves sat at a screening of the film and saw his drawing, in motion, up there on the screen. People often told Teves that it was their favorite moment in the film, not knowing it was his idea.[3]

On Stranger Tides

The fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was Miles Teves' second involvement in the Pirates franchise. To create some of the film's distinctive visual elements, the production enlisted some of Hollywood's top concept artists. Among them was Miles Teves, who originally got a call from the production designer, who said he came recommended for doing character work. When they found out he could draw props as well, Teves ended up designing some props. One prop design that had an impact were those of the Sword of Triton. The first design Teves sketched out was immediately chosen as the final sword, though Teves thought it was a pity because of the Atlantis back story and felt that it should have been more unique and exotic.[4] Another early concept of the sword was his attempt at creating a realistic design more fitting to the sword's Atlantis back story.[5]

After Teves was finished, director Rob Marshall asked him to come back and draw versions of actors in their costumes, because it would help him visualize the characters. Teves was probably happiest with the character drawings he did for Ian McShane as Blackbeard and Penélope Cruz as Angelica. He also done some drawings for Sam Claflin as Philip Swift, also stating that they were originally going for a young French actor, but chose a British actor in the end. Teves said it was the character drawings—and the zombie drawings—which "were a lot of fun to do."[6] Several different actors were considered for the role as Blackbeard at the time Teves was conceptualizing his look, notably Javier Bardem and Benicio del Toro.[2] Upon hearing Ian McShane's involvement, Teves was excited because he was a big Deadwood fan. Costume designer Penny Rose said, "If Jack Sparrow is rock and roll, Blackbeard is going to be biker chic," so Teves thought, black leather, chains, studs and all black. Some concepts which were drawn were eventually tossed out, such as Blackbeard's hat (which seemed to suggest horns) and a bandolier of pistols.[6]

Teves also helped design other things, from zombies to mermaids. For the zombies, Teves really wasn't given any guidelines; he was told, "Just brainstorm and draw us a bunch of zombies!" Teves tried designing them with all ethnicities he could think of, after suggesting with albino and African when it was mentioned that the zombies would be made up of all ethnicities. The production didn't want the zombies to be rotting, or any of them to resemble the cursed crew from the first film, though they weren't technically zombies most people would say they were the living dead. So Teves thought they should hearken back to some of the old-style zombies, having some authenticity to them based on voodoo, which led to their concept design. Teves looked through pictures of Cuba and what people do with themselves, so there was some scarification and some tattoos, so he could incorporate those elements into my designs. He also thought about an old zombie episode from Kolchak: The Night Stalker; where the idea was they would put salt in their mouths and stitch their mouths closed, so that started the theme of having stitching on their faces, the corners of their mouths and eyes. When designing the zombies, Teves had to draw them with make-ups in mind, as the production didn't want to do the CG route. Joel Harlow came through the department at one point and said to Teves, "I like your stuff and I'm going to try to be as faithful to it as possible!"[6]

Despite not being urged to do research or to be authentic about anything, Teves wanted to try and bring some authenticity to it. One character Teves created, which didn't make it to the film, was based on Black Caesar from real history; an African guy who was "Blackbeard's sidekick" who was dubbed Black Caesar.[6] But ultimately, despite the relevance of the historical character, the character wasn't incorporated into the movie.

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