Sunday, August 12, 2012

Designing for the cameras

Actor Jacob Williams as "Ernest" in 'The Stream"

These last couple of weeks working as Set Designer for the feature film "The Stream", have been a complete whirlwind, pressure packed, and so much fun! The project started with rolling two bedrooms, a hallway, kitchen, and dining room back to1981. The main characters in the film are "Ernest" and "Bobby". Their room complete with bunk beds and street signs, needed to reflect their love of Star Wars and all the typical trappings of a "coming of age" 13 year old boy and his younger brother sharing a room.

Ernest & Bobby's bedroom in "The Stream"

I tried to create a typical boy's bedroom from that era. Complete with roll down shades, wood paneling, a record player with cassette deck, and Star Wars toys everywhere. I tried my best to make it look lived in and real. The continuity was always a challenge as I had to research each and every item to make sure it existed on or before 1981.

Ernest & Bobby's room in "The Stream"

Here's a look behind the scenes as Dreaming Tree Films Director, Estlin Feigley, goes over the upcoming scenes with actors Jacob Williams who plays "Ernest", and Michael Capperella who plays "Bobby" in the movie. As the crew sets up for the shoot, you'll see It takes a lot of people and equipment to film a small room! lol

 

I also needed to turn back time on Ernest and Bobby's parents room. The furniture was already consistent with the times, so I only had to decorate around it. A floral bedspread, a TV complete with extended antenna and manual channel dial, and a period push button phone were key items to paint the scene.


Actor Jacob Williams



Maggie & Glen's bedroom in "The Stream"

It wasn't so much about making them pretty, it was more about making them average middle class and authentic. I was having flashbacks the whole time of the decor in the homes of my friends and family back then. The decorating reality of the 70's and 80's was one of transition. Not my taste at all. So it was really fun to step out of my normal vision for interior space.


The entire process has been such a cool learning experience. The amount of effort made by many people to bring so many elements together at the same moment, is totally inspiring to be part of. Not to mention the participation of The Boy's & Girl's Clubs of America in the making of this feature film. The Dreaming Tree Films Foundation is an amazing cause. They partner the pros with students on each film production. It's the learning experience of a lifetime for these young aspiring film makers!


There's also some real star power in "The Stream" as well. This past week I got to meet and work with both Kelly Rutherford and Christopher Gorham. They're playing "Glen" and "Maggie", the parents of Ernest and Bobby in the film. My part was running into the kitchen between each take of one scene to reset the dishes in the sink that Maggie was washing and drying as she was talking with Glen. Here's a look behind the camera at another kitchen scene with them. If you look closely at the picture frame on the wall, you'll notice it's right up against the thermostat. I placed it there to cover a bank of modern flush switches.The thermostat was out of frame.

 

Christopher Gorham & Kelly Rutherford
 Outside of placing picture frames over modern switch plates, and decorating rooms, I've also assumed the role of Prop Master as well. I was given the task of finding several motorized items for the sets. First I had to find a working lawn mower that was from 1981 or older. Luckily I was able to find a guy willing to rent his red 1980 Snapper. Also on the list was a running dirt bike for the movie's bully named "Wyatt". And, the most challenging task of all was the cars! There are several scenes that required cars from the era. I don't think I've ever done more research in my life! Not to mention the emails, phone calls, and leaving notes on people's classic rides in parking lots. I even walked into a restaurant and interrupted someones dinner to discuss using their car in the film.


The above photo shows the cars I managed to assemble for a mall parking lot scene. This was a really fun day! The set was behind the Granite Run mall in Media, PA. I met the drivers on the opposite side of the building. When it was time to arrive with cars, I rolled up to the set in my own car, and I asked the producer Devan Saber, "Have any cars shown up yet?" She looked at me in shock and said..."You were supposed to bring them here!" So I said, OK, I'll go look for them. About five minutes later, here's a video of our grand entrance...


The work is not over yet. There's still about 2 weeks of filming left to go. Right now I'm search of more cars for some street scenes, and an ice cream truck. Do you know of any classic ice cream trucks from 1981 laying around? The search continues...



To read more about this Dreaming Tree Films feature film, click on on the logo below.



Stay tuned for the wrap...


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