Monday, November 23, 2015

Scouting Locations

I've only designed for one film so far - Ciao, an award-winning indie by Yen Tan - but the experience was memorable.  I remember converting two identical condo bedrooms into two different sets, right down to carefully double-stick-taping faux window mullions in one room, to help differentiate.  Cleaning, prepping, and set dressing the kitchen for shooting (which the film crew needed to use for real lunches), having that shoot rescheduled, then cleaning up lunch mess and doing it all again, several times.  Literally waiting on paint to dry for the shot - all of us, the whole production with lights and camera and me with a hair drier hurrying things.  Serious phone conversations from the depths of Home Depot on how to artfully place an on-set towel, "...a little wrinkled, not perfect, 'cause it was used in the last scene, right?..."  And, funniest for the bystanders, us scouting locations...

We drove around Dallas in a little teeny car and, when we arrived at a potential location, piled out:  the driver and AD, a big burly guy with "Rosebud" tattooed on his shoulder; the co-writer/director, a tall, lanky Malaysian guy; the producer, a short, determined, firecracker of a guy who looked about twelve; and me, the production designer, short, plump, gray, looking like their Den Mom.  Kinda like watching a clown car unload.

What brings this to my mind?

This interesting little vid about film locations HERE.

10 Movies That Stole Their Sets From Other Films

This may be the biggest difference between film and stage work, finding real world locations instead of building all scenery from scratch.

Mind you, there's always a lot more modification to that real world location than the audience realizes.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Enjoy the Lulls

Although I do still have one show a'building this year (today in fact), I'm in a relative lull... at least compared to the crazy crazy pace of even a few weeks ago.

I'm enjoying the lull.

Next week, of course, the annual Turkey / Christmas crazy begins, but today, lull.

Well, after I sort the reimbursible theater receipts...

Then dig out my drawing board, trashed while pulling out drawings for yesterday's set design workshop, and needing to watercolor pencil one last little rendering, and...  I can't even find the drawing surface at the moment.

Then cleaning out my car.  The poor ol' Scenic Ride is filled to the scuppers with STUFF from six shows or so.

It must be time to take a lull... because my desk and car are too trashed to use today!

I sometimes joke that I know I'm done designing a show when I discover that I'm drawing on a sheet of paper I can only get to by peeling off the tape of other, higher levels of drawings and sorta crawling under them - paper tenting over my head.  Then it must be time to stop.

Well now, clearly, it's time to get organized!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Set Design Workshop Today

This afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 I'm giving a workshop on theater set design at Tarrant County College NE (that's in Hurst).  Open to students and public.  

Drop on by.

Drawings, models, carved foam fish-like creatures... everything you'd expect!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What a Month

Theater is a marathon not a sprint.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I've been working flat out... mostly trying to get Mainstage Irving's The Addams Family open.  

And then - instead of collapsing - trying to catch up on my other shows: Death of a Salesman at Fun House Theatre and Film, Sexy Laundry at WaterTower Theater,  and The Importance of Being Earnest at Tarrant County College NE.

Opening night at The Addams Family had a few rough spots in sound and lights, but the set and projections were DONE.  (The paint was even dry.)  An accomplishment of heroic proportions let me tell you.

The Addams Family, Mainstage Irving Los Colinas - photo by Mainstage

Here you can see one scene set in the Addams' conservatory, a combination of built scenery and 3D projection by Nathan Davis.  This was a show that really was about collaboration!  And even more about drawing than I expected: the Addams Family originated as cartoons in The New Yorker, so it seemed right that the projections be largely drawings rather than photos, but, in fact, they were often, as here, a combination of hand sketches (architecture) and photos (sky, moon, and cobblestone floor).  My original background sketch was actually an assemblage of three sketches of about 14" long so it's kinda wild to see them blown up to almost 30' wide.

The projections for this show are fantastic!  Three dimensional spaces into which we fly in or out, doors and gates open, animations - Fester's "Moon" scene is wonderful - all just amazing.  Nathan did an incredible job.  For my part, I'm particularly proud of how well the projected scenery and the built scenery merge.

Even more merge-y than intended, actually...

Because of the press of time, much of the detail on the built set that was supposed to be real 3D construction, ended up as hand drawn/painted linework too, like all the paneling and trim shown here.  Which help coordinate the two worlds alright.

My hand is tired.

If you have the chance, go see the show - a still photo just can't show the coolitude of the projections. 

(And, you know, the cast are... incredibly good.  A very accomplished and fun show.)