After my initiation in the Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn crew last week, I was now assigned to set decorating. It is making sure all of the sets are decorated nicely and are able to show the action and create a great environment. A set is important to immerse an audience.
I was introduced to one of the decorators on Monday. She gave me three tasks that involved the school set. The coolest ones were making inserts for the lockers and making flyers. Monday was spent stapling boards and making the inserts. The inserts are sheets of a poster board that you put scrapbooking paper and magazine clippings on to make a collage. It was fun to have a lot of open creativity with the project, not just sorting clothes like last week. I made three boys and three girls locker inserts. I made up characters in my head for each of the lockers. I had the “girly girl”, “wanderlust boy”, etc. It wasn’t like this deep emotional thing, but it kept me entertained. Before I left, the decorator told me that Tuesday I would be painting and going with her to a prop house!
Well, Tuesday came and she was sick. No prop house or painting. I was sad, but I still had the flyers to do. I got to hang out in the production office and make 20 flyers for the background of the school. There was a little trip down memory lane as I looked at my high school’s clubs (They have a film studies club now!) for ideas. It was fun to make different flyers. I will say, Boulder Academy is a hopping joint. I like the production office a lot. It’s very mellow and the PAs are really nice to talk to while working.
While hanging out in the production office, I was approached to help with a run-through of the episode. This means I hold a small handheld recorder and record a rough cut of the episode acted all the way through. It was a lot of set hopping and hold the camera until my arms cramped, but it was really interesting to see the rough draft of the episode. I read the script on the previous Friday and knew how the episode was going to go. However, seeing it acted, even roughly, was really cool and it helped to determine what jokes were going to land or not. Some of the jokes that I was not amused by reading it were funnier when acted out. Plus, EVERYBODY was on the stage watching the run-through. Writers, producers, wardrobe, you name it, they were there. I asked my fellow PA who was taping with me why this was and she explains that this was network run-through and it is a big deal for everyone working on the show.
Wednesday was the big day for me. I painted some larger posters for the school that will go above lockers, drinking fountains, etc. Again, it was fun to do whatever I wanted when designing the posters. I got to do that for a few hours and was half-way done before the decorator told me it was time to go to the prop house. The decorator was really informative, telling me about the largest prop houses and the one we went to. This prop house was on the Universal lot and was so big! It’s always been a dream of mine to see a prop house and a costume house. The prop house did not disappoint. It was massive, three stories total. The first stop was the third floor, where all the smaller props were. The other floors were for larger furniture, from shelves to chairs, to couches. Now, I know you’re thinking, “wasn’t she on set decoration?” You’re right. These props are going to be in the background of the next episode’s set. There were aisles upon aisles of props from nautical to artificial food, to voodoo. Yeah, voodoo. I wish I took pictures, because it was amazing. We were given a decker (this rolling cart with two shelves) to fill with stuff for the show, and tag it with the show’s logo. I noticed a lot of other productions, ranging from The Good Place to Heathers (TV show that has not aired yet), and many more I couldn’t identify. When I asked, the decorator told me that they could be student films, secret big movies, or indie films. Wow. To cap it all off, we had to go via golf cart to this Terrace to find some more parts. The highlight of the drive was seeing part of the Universal Studios tour, specifically the Jaws part. We even saw some of the Western backlot that was recently rebuilt. I honestly had a pinch me moment here. I’m from a small town in Wisconsin and getting to experience this is honestly amazing and humbling.
Thursday was a bonus day. I was asked to come in for a little bit to finish painting the posters I did. There wasn’t much else to tell, as I really just did a lot of painting. I cataloged what I painted and what was already there and then my boss for the week told me I was done. Overall, I had a much better time here than with wardrobe. I loved the opportunity to work independently and fact that I was given more intellectually stimulating tasks. Plus, the stuff I made is going to be on an episode of the show, seen by audiences. Well, it’ll be there. Everyone will be noticing the kids, but when I see the episode I’m sure to keep my eyes peeled for my posters. Next week I’m working in the production office. I start REALLY EARLY at 8:15. At least I can have a second breakfast on the Stage. I’m going to start turning into a hobbit one of these days…