Home
  About Us
  Set Decorator Resources
  Set Decor
     • Film Decor
     • Television Decor
     • Awards
     • Director's Chair
  Hot Off The Set
  Spotlight
  Calendar / Events
  Books / Market
  Press / News
  Members Directory
  Join SDSA
  Archive
  Member Log In




FILM DECOR

TELEVISION DECOR

AWARDS

DIRECTOR'S CHAIR

ARCHIVE
 

limitless

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Eddie's Apartment
    Eddie Morra [Bradley Cooper] works through his writer’s block…with a little help from NZT

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Eddie's Digs
    Eddie’s tenement apartment, pre-NZT...deterioration defined

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    The other world...
    Financial titan Carl Van Loon [Robert De Niro] meets with Eddie [Bradley Cooper]

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Post-NZT World
    A private club…dominion of the elite

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Van Loon's Office
    Eddie [Bradley Cooper]assists mega-mogul Carl Van Loon [Robert De Niro] broker a gigantic merger/acquisition

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Atwood House
    Major art and prized antiques fill the Atwood house

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Atwood House
    Hank Atwood's bedroom offers foreshadowing and a closure

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    The Happy Rooster Bar
    A strung out Eddie [Bradley Cooper] stumbles into an old connection, Vernon [Johnny Whitworth], and a new drug

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Eddie's Digs
    Eddie’s tenement apartment, post-NZT – he's on a cleaning jag

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Vernon's Pad
    What NZT can buy…stuff but not a life. [Layout board protects the floor prior to filming.]

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Romantic Restaurant
    Lindy [Abbie Cornish] and Eddie [Bradley Cooper]reconnect post-NZT

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Lindy's Place
    Earthy palette, plants and light reflect the balance Lindy represents

    ©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Diane Lederman SDSA

    production designer
    Patrizia van Brandenstein

    Relativity


    Upscale Hotel
    Lindy [Abbie Cornish] - Suite ends up not being the safe haven she and Eddie sought

    Photo by John Baer©2011 Dark Fields Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Moribund, chronically-blocked writer Eddie Morra [Bradley Cooper] is offered NZT, a neuro-enhancing designer drug which enables the user to access 100% of his brain. His girlfriend, magazine editor Lindy [Abbie Cornish,] has dumped him, so the apathetic and pathetic Eddie pops the pill and changes his life.


The murky world Eddie inhabited pre-NZT becomes more vibrant and kinetic as he daily doses. His world falls back into desaturated hues when he’s not on the drug, but is filled with bright clarity when he is. Eddie becomes a multi-lingual, multi-talented, multi-tasking phenomenon—he transitions into the realm of power and play, facilitating a major merger for financial mogul Carl Van Loon [Robert De Niro], partying the jet set circuit and reconciling with Lindy. There’s a price to pay, of course, as he pushes the envelope to stay alive and ahead in this fast-paced, visually exciting action-thriller.


Director Neil Burger, Production Designer Patrizia van Brandenstein, Set Decorator Diane Lederman SDSA and the crew established visual languages for each phase of the story. Burger says, “…To give the audience the feeling of being inside Eddie’s head…each phase has a particular color palette, camera movement, design concept and acting style. I wanted the audience to always feel what he was feeling, to be zooming along with him.”

SET DECOR talks with Lederman about the making of the film and the process of set decoration.

SET DECOR: Please tell us about the palettes…

Set Decorator Diane Lederman SDSA: Contrast was the visual vocabulary we used to distinguish the two different states of mind of our main character. Eddie’s pre-NZT world was, for the most part, monochromatic. Once on NZT, the world—his world—became alive with light and color. We worked very hard to make this happen with the set dressing, and palette was a defining method to accomplish this task.

In many ways for me, the greater challenge was to create his pre-NZT world. Carefully choosing set dressing that ranges from shades of grey to grey greens and keeping to that color scheme was not as easy as it sounds. 

Contrast was also key to the palette and set elements for Lindy’s apartment—the contrast between Eddie’s pre-NZT squalor and the orderly haven that was Lindy’s. 

Lindy is the only virtuous character in the film. Even once she has a taste for NZT, she does not fall prey to its effects. She immediately recognizes its danger. It was important to us for her world to feel grounded, safe, calm—thus an earthy palette for her. Plants…the flowered theme seen throughout the art, curtains and décor…touches of folk art…the pottery collection…all meant to invoke a feeling of wholesomeness and to connect her to the earth.

Director Neil Burger says, “Too often, New York is turned into a Hollywood set, but we wanted it raw and real and flowing around us. It’s a wild story that goes off on some crazy tangents and we tried to ground it in reality.”

Producer Scott Kroopf adds, “We shot on 52nd Street…Chelsea, Tribeca and all over midtown… and on the East Broadway part of Chinatown. It’s nuts because there are always a million people there.”

SET DECOR: Tell us about location shooting in NYC!

Lederman: Shooting on location in the streets of NYC definitely has its own particular challenges, somewhat like guerilla warfare at times, but when you grow up in the industry doing it, it becomes second nature. You definitely learn to think on your feet and act quickly. 

I think NY is one of the most vibrant and inspiring places to work. There is a pulse to this city that is very exciting to move to, and allows access to the best the world has to offer.

Yes, there are tons of people on the street. However, New Yorkers are pretty jaded when it comes to film shoots. They are generally less interested in what we are shooting and more interested in how their street parking will be affected.

SET DECOR: Did you have interesting moments with set dressing deliveries, timing, etc?!

Lederman: This film was extremely demanding and challenging as far as bringing sets in on time. The schedule was very tight, and we often had to dress, shoot and wrap locations all on the same day. Even when we had prep time it was still always tight, but that is part of the challenge of doing a film that is primarily shot in locations as opposed to stage sets. Thank goodness for my assistant Wendy Brown and our incredible New York crew!

SET DECOR: Did you decorate the Philadelphia shoot as well?

Lederman: Yes, I did the all principle photography. I love Philadelphia. It’s a great city, and a great city to work in. There are some wonderful and generous vendors—no prophouses, so everything comes from local small business owners. I was very fortunate to have an accomplished buyer, Christine Wick, whose personal relationship with all of these vendors was paramount to the success of the sets. Philadelphia also boasts some very talented and able technicians—my dressing crew was amazing and pulled off some miracles with getting the sets ready on time.


SET DECOR: This is your third film with Production Designer Patrizia van Brandenstein. Please tell us about your collaborative process.


Lederman: I have been very fortunate to work with some extraordinary designers, and Patrizia is by far one of the best. I credit a good deal of what I know about dressing sets to working with and learning from Patrizia. She is extremely demanding and challenges me to make each set perfect, no matter how difficult the obstacles might be or how great the limitations, budgetary or otherwise.

She has a brilliant eye and a hundred tricks up her sleeve.

One of the most important things I learned from Patrizia is creating backstory in order to help flesh out a character’s environment. It gives me the ammunition to create realistic environments that help the actors relate to their world and helps sell the story to an audience.

SET DECOR: Readers love to know about the set decorator’s creative process and inspirations. Anything you’d like to share?

Lederman: Unless the story calls for a very stylized look, I enjoy creating sets that are very realistic. To me, one of the biggest compliments is when the shooting crew walks into a location that we have cleared out and dressed from scratch and the crew thinks this was all there to begin with. Subtlety and attention to detail is paramount to my work.

SET DECOR: There are a range of window treatments! Tell us about your choices…

Lederman: Window treatments and practical lighting are two of the most important contributions a set decorator can make to a set. After all, film is light and those two elements shape, create and control the light. Light was almost its own character in this film. It signaled the onset of the effect of NZT, and helped tell the story.

The great variation of window treatments was truly a joy to find and create. I love fabrics and I love what light does to fabric and what fabric does to light.

On this film, window treatments played another important function. As we shot most of our interiors in Philadelphia, what was on the window helped hide the fact that we were not in New York.

The window treatments in Lindy’s Apartment needed to conceal what was actually outside, filter the light, and define her personality. When I was shopping for fabrics, I came across a beautiful natural linen with a motif of giant graphic black flowers, and I thought, “This is Lindy.” We had it made into drapery legs, and combined with gauzy sheers, we had the perfect window treatment for the character.

Van Loon’s Conference Room window treatments were a bit of a challenge. The windows were huge. Requiring something corporate narrows the possibilities and the challenge of hiding Philadelphia outside the windows existed here as well. There needs to be just enough fullness to hide what you don’t want to see, and yet still let in the light. We opted for fabric vertical shades, which proved to be an ideal solution. There are some beautiful new things being done with verticals, and we found something quite elegant that was translucent enough to let in the light, hide what was outside and still gave a tailored, corporate look.

We just had fun with Eddie’s pre-NZT apartment. The scissor window gates were used as window treatments here, alongside some old sheets we hung in the windows to hide the fact that we didn’t have a backdrop outside certain windows.

SET DECOR: Was there a favorite set?

Lederman: Eddie’s pre-NZT tenement apartment was definitely a labor of love. Of course, it’s always fun to do beautiful high-end sets, but I love doing the grungy ones. The challenge is to make it “real”. It’s easy to go over the top and lose believability. Finding that sadly perfect sofa and getting it to just the right level of almost furniture death, improvising with milk crates as wall shelves, layering vinyl flooring and tearing it back to create a history are all strangely fulfilling to me. Thanks to a very talented scenic department, the age and texture was completely realistic and the overall effect was very believable.

SET DECOR: How are Eddie’s NZT-enhanced changes reflected?

Lederman: It actually took a lot of planning to allow for the squalor to then become an orderly world. We see this apartment in many states. We had very little time for the many change-overs, so we had to know in advance exactly how we would achieve this. We had charts and time lines defining each state…
…Pre-NZT was total squalor.
…The first time Eddie is on NZT, he cleans up the apartment and gets organized. …After being on the drug for a while, he starts to buy some new pieces of furniture.
…Then his apartment is ransacked after the thugs break in looking for the hidden stash of drugs—totally torn apart, cushions ripped open, furniture broken, no going back.

SET DECOR: There is a plethora of bars in this film…from the seedy one where Eddie makes his life-changing connection to funky to luxurious.

Lederman: Part of Eddie’s arc as a character is how NZT allows him to go from an anti-social misfit loser to the most popular guy on the planet. Contrast was important to distinguish the diverse environments he inhabited in his different states of mind. The Happy Rooster, a neighborhood haunt, was the perfect spot to create Eddie’s pre-NZT seedy environment. The refined and elegant world his NZT-enhanced state allowed access to was primarily achieved with location choices.

SET DECOR: Luxury and power are visually defined, as in the set where Eddie first meets Van Loon…

Lederman: It was very important for the audience to understand that Eddie was entering a world of power. Nothing says upscale power more than a room filled with tufted black leather chesterfields. The gold sheers were chosen so they could color and warm the light coming through the windows. Combined with the existing mahogany wood paneling in the room, they created the trademark look of the NZT-enhanced world.

SET DECOR: You’ve decorated “power” in NYC before, particularly in WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS. How did you incorporate what you learned from that for this film?

Lederman: Scale. When creating a world that suggests power and influence bigger IS better. The conference table in Van Loon’s needed to be huge. We ended up having to build the table, because I couldn't find one that suited the scene, had the right scale and was to my liking. In the end, the conference table was one of my favorite set pieces. It was enormous, imposing, a true statement.

SET DECOR: What made this film a unique experience?

Lederman: Every film I work on is a unique experience. That is the beauty of what we do. No matter how much I know, how much experience I have, there is always some new challenge that I never came up against before. Set Decorating never gets boring.


film decor archives

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING 2017-10-09
AMERICAN MADE 2017-09-30
TULIP FEVER 2017-08-31
SPIDER-MAN:HOMECOMING 2017-07-17
THE BEGUILED 2017-07-14
BABY DRIVER 2017-06-27
ALIEN: COVENANT 2017-05-19
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2 2017-05-11
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 2017-03-31
LOGAN 2017-03-03
FIFTY SHADES DARKER 2017-02-23
ARRIVAL 2017-02-15
LA LA LAND 2017-02-14
20th CENTURY WOMEN 2017-01-23
HAIL, CAESAR! 2017-01-20
ALLIED 2017-01-11
THE FOUNDER 2017-01-02
PASSENGERS 2016-12-21
JACKIE 2016-12-18
HACKSAW RIDGE 2016-11-22
MOONLIGHT 2016-11-14
THE DRESSMAKER 2016-10-31
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN 2016-10-21
MASTERMINDS 2016-09-30
MASTERMINDS 2016-09-30
THE BFG 2016-08-27
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 2016-06-05
BATMAN v SUPERMAN: Dawn of Justice 2016-05-09
MILES AHEAD 2016-04-11
THE BIG SHORT 2016-04-04
THE MARTIAN 2016-02-15
BRIDGE OF SPIES 2016-01-22
TRUMBO 2015-12-19
SECRET IN THEIR EYES 2015-12-06
SPY 2015-08-02
TERMINATOR: GENISYS 2015-07-20
JUPITER ASCENDING 2015-02-24
SEVENTH SON 2015-02-24
BIRDMAN 2015-02-01
SELMA 2015-01-21
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR 2015-01-09
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE 5 ARMIES 2014-12-31
WHIPLASH 2014-12-21
GET ON UP 2014-08-05
CHEF 2014-06-28
x-men: days of future past 2014-06-13
the amazing spider-man 2 2014-05-03
nebraska 2014-02-25
lovelace 2014-01-08
inside llewyn davis 2013-12-21
saving mr. banks 2013-12-12
rush 2013-10-07
prisoners 2013-10-01
world war z 2013-07-15
star trek into darkness 2013-06-06
lincoln 2013-01-03
the master 2012-11-17
cloud atlas 2012-11-11
the bourne legacy 2012-10-11
lawless 2012-09-24
the amazing spider-man 2012-09-08
the avengers 2012-05-22
good deeds 2012-03-28
hugo 2012-01-27
the help 2011-12-18
twilight: breaking dawn, part 1 2011-12-13
my week with marilyn 2011-12-04
the ides of march 2011-10-20
what's your number? 2011-10-11
contagion 2011-10-03
cowboys & aliens 2011-08-14
super 8 2011-06-21
the conspirator 2011-05-15
little fockers 2011-01-14
the next three days 2011-01-05
the social network 2011-01-04
agora 2010-08-28
knight & day 2010-07-02
sex & the city 2 2010-06-02
sherlock holmes 2010-02-08
the lovely bones 2010-01-26
inglourious basterds 2010-01-10
cirque du freak 2009-11-12