Saturday, July 06, 2019

11'9"

    This isn't my waist size, or the distance to the craft service table. It's an example of the dimensions of every room in the set I've been working on. Here's another one: 13'. In actuality, when combined with the title of this post, it's the dimension of one of the main rooms in the set I'm working on. 11'9"x13'. It's a dining room set. The double door leading into it? A little over 9'. Hallways? Something like 5'2". It's maddening. Nothing in this set, a whole house interior, is divisible by 2. Why is this a problem? Well, for the dining room, I know at some point there is going to be a shot circling the dining room table. It always happens. This means I have to lay the entire room. This in turn means that I now have to make custom cuts to fill a room that's 11'9"x 13'. It's maddening, needless work. In 100 years of set building, the word hasn't reached the set designers of the world to make sets divisible by two.
  This is a common problem. Years ago I was doing a tv series. The doors to the sets were a non-standard size. The dollies didn't fit through them. So every morning or every set change, a wall had to be removed just to get the dollies into the set. When confronted with this dilemma, the set designer's response was that he wasn't going to change the look of his sets just so we could get the dollies into them. This half-wit cost us an hour a day for a couple of inches. I finally had drinks with the draftsman and she laughed and said she would take care of it. Problem solved.
  One more story. Years later I was doing a big Tom Cruise movie. The key grip, DP and I went in to look at the sets in preproduction. In the main office set, a room we would be in for weeks, there was a 2" thick rug covering a third of the room with a 1200 lb desk on it. I pointed out to the DP that this might be a problem and he immediately agreed and had the desk moved and the rug taken out. The rug was then painted on the floor. You can't tell the difference! Rugs are the bane of the dolly grip's existence. You may see a piece of them in the master and then never again. They result in extra work for the set dressers or endless building up to match the height for dance floor for me. Every time I walk in a set and see a rug with furniture on it I groan because I know it's likely to never be seen yet cause endless problems. Nobody sees rugs! Stop putting them in sets! Make thresholds easily removable! Now please, don't misunderstand me. I've worked with some of the most talented set designers and art departments in the world. Some truly astounding, jaw dropping sets. But help me help you.
  Anyway, that's my rant for this week and a love letter to the set designers and art directors of the world. If you have a gorgeous set but it's impractical to shoot in, you've failed! Rant over

D

13 comments:

Eric said...

LOL I fell your pain. Had a set designer on a show that I did. It was for showtime that I did when I wasn't at the HBO show with you. (I dont want to name names...)

Had an elevator set for a scene in which the elevator gets stuck between two floors. It was a complete set including the elevator shaft that we climbed up to in the scene.

The designer made it beautiful BUT. didn't make the elevator door operable because that would have cost a few hundred more bucks... Her solution, pull the back wall of the elevator shaft, then the back wall of the elevator car every time the Actor and I had to get in or get out. 5 mins to get in, 5 mins to get out (Maybe less, it felt longer)

The fourth time we had to get out I asked the AD to call her to the set. She shows up and I tell her I want to show her something and ask a question. So we walk into the elevator car and the Grips move in and screw the two back walls on. At this point she freaks out because she has a production meeting in less than five mins. I point to the Elevator door and suggest that she use that to get to her meeting.

She was late to her meeting and she never saved money on doors again.

D said...

Lol! Thanks for the story! Great one!

Azurgrip said...

Why is it that shows will have a mandate of “low and wide!”, spend all the money on expensive floors (carpet, poorly installed flooring, etc), and then ignore the ceiling...

Ryan Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Moore said...

Wait, so it was just a box?

I get that there were probs people dedicated to screwing it on and off but that sounds like a fire/safety hazard to me along with being an inconvenience

Michael Taylor said...

Interesting. I never thought about set size affecting the dolly grip's work (unless the set is tiny, of course), or the importance of even numbers in those dimensions... but set designers drove me nuts during my years doing television. One in particular -- at Paramount -- designed beautiful, ornate sets that were nearly impossible to work with or in, and made our lives on the lighting crew miserable. People like that (along with my 4/0 damaged back) make me glad I'm retired...

D said...

Yeah sometimes I think tunnel vision takes hold and practicality goes out the window. Happens to all of us at times though.

Eric said...

Ryan, It was a box inside of a box. Problem was the actor had to climb up and out to the other floor that had a door. so it had to be secured enough to permit him to climb all the walls.

The Grips came up with a solution that they could get us out quickly if they had to

Anonymous said...

And please don’t stop your beautiful floor treatments at the walls....
pull a wall, try to extend the set 2’ for a dolly move. Now match the elevation of a floor treatment that stopped at the wall...

Azurgrip said...

If you design a set with a wild wall, have the floor on the other side match in height to the inside!

D said...

Yes!!!!

D said...

Yes!!!

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