SET DECORATING AND PROPS

PREP IN PRE-PRODUCTION

Yes. Set Decorating and Props are two separate departments, but they are pretty-much married on the set. Each prop will find its way onto one set or another. Not only must the talent be believable but the LOOK of the production must be convincingly believable, as well! There was a time that I was teaching a Production class and the students were setting up the camera, with the desks visibly in the background on the camera. Yes, most schools have limited budgets for these kind of classes if they don't eliminate them all together now. During this time, where we had a camera or two, the students were new to the production arena, and that's why they were there--to learn some production techniques! One day, I just had it! Forget the limiting budget!


Forget that we did not have paint, paintings, furniture, tools, materials on hand, etc. etc. I was prompted to create an assignment named LOCATION! Students were placed in two different groups. Each group created a scene, got the script together, the characters, etc. The RULE in this assignment was, this location had to take place in ONE LOCATION that was not in a classroom nor anything within a school. After this creation, whichever location the scene required, each group had to CREATE THIS NEW LOCATION INSIDE THE CLASSROOM! I then gave instruction and tips on how to collect materials inexpensively, what to do, what to look for, who, what, where, when--you got it! One group did one location that was supposed to be an exercise studio. This was okay, but it did not do the job. The next group LITERALLY turned a portion of our classroom into a LIVING ROOM! It was absolutely put together very well and recorded well on camera. They, of course, received an "A"! Now, if high school students could do this with NO budget, who were new to the production experience and made the scene believable...those with some experience or those who are willing to learn can do phenomenal things, too. 


Speaking of this...one day I was speaking to a Set Designer who got his introduction to production with the popular TV comedy, "In Living Color".  He expressed how their production crew had to come up with all kinds of crazy ideas that had never been created before! Sure enough...we all saw the amazing hysterical designs and sets that visually transformed, exploded or came about in an unexpected way on that cleverly hysterical show! Don't limit yourself... but also, don't end up like Fire Marshall Bill in real life! Be open to creativity and don't limit yourself still, while being safe! In this phase of production, you're working with the Director and Script Supervisor and noting each scene and each prop that needs to be in the production. 


What is happening on the set? What is happening with a particular prop? Is it to explode and more than one backup is needed? Does a pretty hefty guy sit on that seat or is it a small framed one for Granny? These are factors that determine the weight, strength, design, etc. of the furniture, the picture being set on the wall or thrown across the room... You get my drift, right?  Cool. 

FURTHER SHINING YOUR TALENTS IN PRODUCTION

All of the furniture and scenery is set in place. Everything has been tested and retested to make sure it is all safe and secure.  Is there any furniture or any handheld prop that any particular talent is allergic to? It's tremendously helpful to research and know this in advance. There was one actress on a production I worked with this year who could not work around a certain type of dust/dirt because of an illness she experienced with such in the past. Her character in this production was to be placed in the mud, the Swartkops! After bringing this to the production's attention, other materials had to be researched and brought in. Whew! This will not only keep the cast healthy, but also the crew, too! 


Getting the appropriate paperwork and system/operations is very helpful. 


Making sure all of the props are on hand and in a set place when it's called for, checked out and checked in, keeps everything at hand. How is the story's irate character going to use the Sweeney gun to shoot through the wall if they tossed it in a trunk in the last scene just the day before this and it was not put back with the other props.  And guess what?  That car was returned to the store that it was rented from.  It's always important to have a checklist of who, what, where, when, why, how AND, IS IT CHECKED BACK IN?  Cool. Okay. 

AFTER THE PRODUCTION HAS WRAPPED...IN POST

Okay. Need we say it? Clean up!...Returning items to the appropriate places...Storage for the remaining items that can be used again!


With every prop placed correctly in production, you will have spared yourself from being called in by the Director in this phase.  This is a good thing. With your job done correctly before and during production, this will keep any reshoots or extra creative editing from being needed.  This saves time and money.  Great.