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MASTERMINDS

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Shooting range…

    Loomis Fargo employees Kelly Campbell [Kristen Wiig] and David Ghantt
    [Zach Galifianakis] test their skills…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    North Carolina…

    At the rise of the hill sits
    Kelly Campbell’s trailer across from the doublewide belonging to her childhood friend, small time crook
    Steve Chambers

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Kelly Campbell trailer…

    Because of weather issues, filming could not be completed on location, thus Production Designer
    Clayton Hartley,
    Set Decorator
    David Smith SDSA
    and their teams
    re-created the trailer interior on stage…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Kelly Campbell trailer…

    FBI agents interview
    Kelly Campbell [Kristen Wiig] post-heist…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Chambers doublewide…

    This doublewide was moved onto the property, foundation piles and porch were built, the exterior completely dressed…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Chambers doublewide…

    Trophy antlers offer a symbolic touch…
    Nothing says 1980s/90s trailer chic like a purple recliner on the porch!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Chambers doublewide…

    …or this sofa set!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Chambers doublewide…

    Smith incorporates antlers and a wildlife theme throughout…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Chambers doublewide…

    Smith’s use of fabulously strange chairs…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity. All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Diner…

    Where the plotting begins…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Diner…

    Smith not only mixed taxidermy, florals, landscapes and photos, but also included a blow-up of a classic Albrecht Dürer print for the diner out in the boonies!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Ghantt trailer…

    David Ghantt
    [Zach Galifianakis] preps for the heist, which he will pull off single-handed…

    Hartley determined a warmer palette for this sweet, naive guy’s trailer.
    Note yet another manifestation of
    “the ugly sofa” that helped Smith set the period and tone…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity


    Loomis Fargo vault…

    $5,000,000 worth of fake, but legally correct money was used to represent the $17million stolen. Thus, the bins and centers of the pallets were first filled with newsprint, then the bills placed over and around…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Loomis Fargo vault…

    There were even boxes of coins, such as in the foreground…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.




  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    The loot…

    Heist mastermind
    Steve Chambers
    a.k.a. Gepetto
    [Owen Wilson, center] oversees the transfer…

    Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig.
    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Service station restroom…

    Kelly [Kristen Wiig] stuffs $20,000 into David’s [Zach Galifianakis] underwear so he can have cash on hand when he flees the country…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Mexican resort…

    Thinking that Kelly will be joining him, David has procured a romantic suite…

    After the set was dressed and ready for camera, it was decided to go for an overall neutral palette, so the pops of blue [pictured] were removed last minute!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Mexican resort…

    One of many unique lamps Smith incorporated on the film’s sets…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.





  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Tlacuache Enojado/Angry Possum…

    According to Smith, the name was a result of Hartley’s and Art Director Elliot Glick’s comic side. “It was a used furniture store in my mind…” Thus, the opportunity for more fun chairs!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Cheap Mexican motel…

    Running out of money while waiting for Kelly to arrive with his cut of the $17 million, David has moved to a cheap motel near the port of another town…

    Note the amazing clock over the bed!

    Photo by Elliot Glick ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Cheap Mexican motel…

    One of Smith’s favorite sets includes mismatched curtain panels and odd chairs…

    Photo by Elliot Glick ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.



  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Cheap Mexican motel…

    Not pictured in this photo of the atmospheric bathroom set are a cast iron tub with suspended shower curtain and a wrought iron pendant lamp…

    Photo by Elliot Glick ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Mexican market…

    Both sides of the street were fully and colorfully dressed for this scene filmed in Puerto Rico for Mexico

    Zach Galifianakis.
    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Taco stand…

    David [Zach Galifianakis] is running short of funds…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions. All rights reserved.

  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Gun salesman’s house…

    Amazing details from Smith, including the standing ashtray next to yet another interesting chair…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Gun salesman’s house…

    Hartley and Smith took advantage of the great architectural elements, Smith added fun notes like the Matador bust, red parrot and chair, and French telephone…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.



  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Street vendors,
    Mexican quayside…


    Smith was suddenly tasked with finding 100 piñatas for a chase sequence, however the production was filming in Puerto Rico, where piñatas are not a part of the culture!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers doublewide…

    Back in the US,
    Steve Chambers is dispensing the loot, none of which is going to Ghantt. This is only a corner, the entire trailer is filled with cash. Inevitably, Chambers and his wife go on a spending spree…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    FBI surveillance van…

    The FBI is suspicious of their ostentatious change of lifestyle…

    Leslie Jones. Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.



  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    FBI surveillance van…

    FBI agents are shocked by revelations they overhear…

    Jon Daley, Leslie Jones.
    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.




  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion…

    Jason Sudeikis plays a hit man whom Chambers hires to kill Ghantt.
    Sculpture in the BG is of Chambers and his wife, part of their new art collection!

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.



  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion…

    Also part of their art collection…
    Yes, the portrait of Elvis is on black velvet!
    And yes, that is a candle sconce with trophy antlers added in, part of a set flanking the painting…

    Image detail from video playback ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion,
    master bedroom…


    Yet more of their art collection…and their exceptional taste…

    As difficult as it is to believe, this is based on a true story. Smith referenced some of the elements from actual photos!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion,
    exterior entry …


    Under-the-Sea themed housewarming party…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.




  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion,
    exterior backyard …


    The poolside Under-the-Sea housewarming party was filmed over 9 days because of rain each day!

    Thankfully, the sculptures Smith had sourced could take the dampness…the paper lanterns and table linens were a bit more problematic!

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.



  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion…

    David & Kelly
    [Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wigg] slip through the back…

    Photo by Glen Wilson ©2014 Armored Car Productions.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion,
    party set…


    Production Designer
    Clayton Hartley…

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.


  • set decorator
    David Smith SDSA

    production designer
    Clayton Hartley

    Relativity

    Chambers mansion,
    party set…


    Set Decorator
    David Smith SDSA
    and Buyer Gia Grosso SDSA

    Photo ©2014 Relativity.
    All rights reserved.



While known for elegant, high-end sets for films such as CRAZY, STUPID LOVE., THE HOLIDAY and SHOPGIRL, Set Decorator David Smith SDSA notes, “It’s a lot more fun to work with character-driven environments than to do something pristine and beautiful.” Thus, he and Production Designer Clayton Hartley happily dove into creating the sets for the action-comedy MASTERMINDS, based on the true story of the riotous misadventures of unlikely anti-hero David Ghantt as he pulls off one of the largest heists in U.S. history.
 

The storyline:
The trouble begins when David Ghantt [Zach Galifianakis], a trusted armored-truck driver for Loomis Fargo, falls for beautiful guard Kelly Campbell [Kristen Wiig]. After she quits her job, Kelly, egged on by local petty thief Steve Chambers [Owen Wilson], persuades David to clean out the company’s vault in Charlotte, North Carolina. After stuffing a van with more than $17 million of stolen cash, David delivers the money to Chambers’ gang and flees to Mexico to lie low while the FBI searches for the culprits. Steve and his wife Michelle [Mary Elizabeth Ellis] buy a mansion with their ill-gotten wealth and dispatch overzealous hit man Mike McKinney [Jason Sudeikis] to Mexico to kill David. Once David discovers the betrayal, he returns to North Carolina on a mission to rescue his true love and expose Steve as the heist’s real “mastermind.”
 
After authentically re-creating the 1970’s for the biopic LOVELACE, Smith was ready to tackle the ‘90s, beginning with the remarkably bad-taste trailer homes of several of the main characters and then jumping into the post-heist nouveau riche Chambers mansion, complete with a large ornately-framed Elvis painting on black velvet and an over-the-top under-the-sea themed party. The Mexico sets [filmed in Puerto Rico] include a beachside resort juxtaposed with a village-like small port with funky motel and colorful sidewalk vendor displays.
 
SET DECOR spoke with Smith about creating realistic sets that are often tasteless and yet somehow honor the characters…
 

 

SET DECOR: You do such standard-setting beautiful décor, how do you make the switch to something like this?
 
Set Decorator David Smith SDSA: Really, you just do what is required and it truly is great fun to do something that is somewhat tacky and of questionable taste. We are storytellers, so we immerse in the world of the characters.
 
I think that my theatre training has helped me as a Set Decorator. I spent 14 years in Regional theatre, doing over 170 plays. It is like they say about Chekov and comedy: it has to stem from reality. So the goal is to not tip the scale too far in the wrong direction, keeping it based in reality. And for this movie, we had a local documentary about the heist and FBI photos as research. Many choices came directly from the research, including the Elvis black velvet painting, the animal patterns, the bad art and the cigar store Indian.
 
 
SET DECOR: Tell us about the world of Appalachian trailers/mobile homes…
 
Smith: Clayton and Art Director Elliott Glick found the Steve Chambers doublewide mobile home and moved it to a site across from the existing smaller trailer that was used as Kelly Campbell’s. Though it didn't make the cut, Director Jared Hess shot a great establishing shot of Kelly and Steve’s trailers in the rolling hills of the Smoky Mountains. David Ghantt’s trailer exterior was in a trailer park in another city.
 
 
SET DECOR: Were most of the interiors done on location or on stage?
 
Smith: Steve’s doublewide was dressed on location and shot, interior and exterior, in a day and a half. Kelly’s interior was to be shot out in one day and we used a lot of the homeowner’s furniture, adding a little more of our furniture and all of the artwork. When they didn’t make their day filming, it was decided to build the interior onstage, so we took everything from the homeowner and bought him all new used furniture to replace and upgrade his home. 
 
David Ghantt’s trailer interior was a stage set with living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. And as luck would have it, the summer rains forced us to cover for Kelly’s trailer and David’s trailer.   Of course, they were built and painted, but not completely dressed until right before shooting.
 
The cheap Mexican motel and the service station bathrooms were also stage sets. The rest were practical locations.
 
 
SET DECOR: What was the advantage/disadvantage of shooting this way?
 
Smith: The Chambers doublewide was large enough to shoot in, which was good. Naturally, it is always easier for the shooting crew to shoot a trailer set on stage, which we obviously did, but I think shooting in small towns in North Carolina added a lot of atmosphere. Also the terrain is so beautiful. As for sets, it is always fun to be able to get them as real as possible.
 
 
SET DECOR: You have filmed all over the world, so please tell us about filming in North Carolina, the state where the heist actually took place…
 
Smith: The true story happened in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. The Charlotte area is somewhat flat, not in the mountains. It was decided to move the location to a more hilly terrain. We were based in Asheville, which is beautiful, and many of our locations were 1½ hours to 2 hours away…The Chambers mansion was 1½ hours from the office and we shot there for 7 days.
 
It is such a beautiful area, with the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains. In daylight, the drive to and from locations was spectacular, not so much at night or in early morning pre-dawn darkness! 
 
Another plus for me on MASTERMINDS was that Asheville is 60 miles from my hometown of Greenville, SC. So I saw my two sisters a lot and I shopped a lot of things in Greenville because it is a much larger city.
 
Also 12 years previous to MASTERMINDS, I had done a Turner Network movie called FREEDOM SONG in Wilmington, NC and I was able to work with some of the same crew as before.
 
 
SET DECOR: And you filmed in Puerto Rico for Mexico?
 
Smith: When I came onboard the film, the original plan was to shoot in Wrightsville Beach, NC for the Mexican beach scenes and dress the Mexican streets on the backlot in Wilmington, NC. That became way too ambitious and too expensive. The plan to shoot in Puerto Rico instead came up a few weeks after we began filming, and Clayton and I went down 3 days early while they completed filming in Asheville. Many locations weren’t locked down or chosen until Jared arrived.  We had about 8 days of prep before we began filming in Puerto Rico. The idea of the Mexican street chase with David and Mike McKinney evolved while we were traveling. And there was no real comprehension of what we needed for stunts and special effects. We all were running on the fly.
 
While very obvious to many of us, some of the production crew was surprised that Mexican goods were not available in Puerto Rico! Thankfully the Puerto Rican crew was used to mainlanders expecting to shoot Puerto Rico for Mexico. Several local buyers and leadmen have stored previous Mexican set dressing and make it available for rental. However, because it had been assumed the piñatas prevalent in the Mexican culture would be readily available in Puerto Rico where they are not part of the culture, I had quite the challenge when asked to quickly bring in 100+ piñatas for the chase scene! While not fully successful, I did by chance find over 40 piñatas at the handful of KMarts scattered on the island.
 
 
SET DECOR: After that tale, please give your observations or hints about filming on location!
 
Smith: After about a week, I think we Set Decorators get a good lay of the land and learn the area really quickly. You ask locals a lot of questions and you keep your eyes and ears open. I always find location work exciting and a real adventure. 
 
Asheville is pretty small and I knew the city pretty well in a few days. On my first day there, I found 6 pieces of major set dressing that anchored the Chambers house. I was a little nervous about driving in San Juan. It’s difficult to drive in a foreign city and search at the same time. I didn’t have a dedicated driver like I had when I worked in Rio de Janeiro and the Czech Republic, but I had a GPS, so I coped.
 
 
SET DECOR: So many of your sets have at least one fabulous, unique chair! Please tell us about some of your favorites in this film…
 
Smith: Thank you. Several of them didn’t make the cut, like the leopard velvet chair and ottoman in Steve’s mansion bedroom and the gilt chair covered in turquoise moire that sat next to the King Neptune sculpture. But I did love the zebra-covered chair and the brown and white cowhide chairs in Steve’s mansion living room and office. I also love the orange floral bar stools in David’s trailer, and the dusty purple recliner on Steve’s trailer porch. And I particularly loved the chairs in the cheap Mexican motel, which is one of my top ten favorite sets I’ve ever done.
 
 
SET DECOR: The same applies to fabrics…including the great red-patterned curtains in that motel…Please tell us about fabrics!
 
Smith: Often I will use stretch jersey dress fabric for curtains and these were panels made from fabrics purchased at Hancock and Jo Ann Fabrics. There are mismatched panels on purpose so it looks a little haphazard. Clayton referenced some photos of Havana interiors as examples of how he wanted the Mexican motel to look.
 
 
SET DECOR: And then there’s the ubiquitous afghan, including the orange and yellow one in Jandice’s trailer…
 
Smith: That was from Bob Meek’s Props in Atlanta. I think we had five afghans in the trailer as though they were all made by Jandice’s mother, all equally as good as the one featured.
 
 
SET DECOR: Speaking of colors, please tell us about the palettes…
 
Smith: Since Clayton couldn’t paint the rented location for the Chambers mansion, and the mobile homes and trailers all had wood grained paneling, the set dressing that was available for rental sort of dictated the palette. Except Clayton decided that he wanted David’s trailer to be warm with oranges and gold. And, of course, the turquoise, aqua and iridescent sparkle for the Under-The-Sea party was really quite obvious... 
 
 
SET DECOR: You always seem to find interesting sculptural details, for instance, in the lamps…
 
Smith: I do enjoy that aspect. In the Chambers mansion I used 2 pairs of elephant lamps that echoed a collection of elephants, and I had a good chuckle with the lamps in the cheap Mexican motel and in Steve’s trailer.
 
 
SET DECOR: Let’s talk about ugly sofas!!!
 
Smith: For that outrageous ‘90s look, we found a pair of sofas and matching upholstered table for Steve’s trailer from Meeks Props in Atlanta. The minute my buyer Gia Grosso texted me a photo of this “lovely” group, I knew we had the anchor pieces for the set.
 
The sofa in David’s trailer wasn’t the one that I originally bought for the set. Instead, on the day that we shot the Loomis Fargo parking lot with the truck flying through the loading doors, I had a few hours while waiting for the company to arrive. I went in to a local thrift shop and found the gold and orange floral jewel that is now featured.
And the trailer’s homeowner is totally responsible for the sofa and chair choice for Kelly Campbell.  I would never have come up with the idea to mix and place in a trailer a large sofa, mismatched loveseat and upholstered chair. But I sure did know enough to keep them!
In Steve’s mansion living room, we had a change the day before we were to shoot that set! Luckily, in Waynesville, I found the rust suede cushy sofa that you see in the movie. I had to be persuaded by Clayton to not get the black vinyl and black and white cowhide sofa and chair I really wanted.
 
 
SET DECOR: And the bad art!!!
 
Smith: Ironically, sometimes it’s really hard to get good “bad” art. I found that just by adding many things to the mix and changing the scale, things could look worse than they really were.
 
In the diner, we used a mix of taxidermy, beach scenes, wildlife pictures and a few florals. In that set, there is also a large print of a squirrel by the 15th and 16th century painter Albrecht Dürer—the original is a very small and delicate work.
 
The art that I did buy from cleared art sources was also served well by 1980’s framing, along with some over-the-top framing. 
 
And Elvis Presley on black velvet. You don't get to do that very often.
 
 
SET DECOR: And bad weather??
 
Smith: Ah, summer in the Great Smoky Mountains. Rain and more rain. We had rain daily while shooting the party and the interiors of Steve’s mansion in Waynesville, NC. There were great tarps to cover the tables and chairs in clusters…and the paper lanterns. Then at night, the dew would fall, which caused more moisture each morning. We were rained out numerous times and headed for cover.
 
 
SET DECOR: What were other particular challenges on this film?
 
Smith: In retrospect, I probably would have brought a trailer of set dressing out from Los Angeles. But the budget was really tight and I didn’t offer it up.
 
…Crew…Getting a crew in Puerto Rico was a challenge because we had very little planning time. But the local producer came through with some really terrific set dressers and a lead. Also, I lucked upon two really great Puerto Rico buyers, although I only got each of them after another had left.
 
Asheville isn’t an established filming area and there were no real local crew. But we all survived and I had a great rental house that backed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
 
…Money…And then there was the money! Both real…as in budget…and fake…as in the heist. Fortunately, Mychael Bates, the Property Master, and I shared the cost and shipment of the money used in the film. Thank you ISS!
 
P-A-R-T-Y …Clayton had asked me on the first day to come up with some ideas for a hillbilly-themed party for the obnoxiously nouveau riche Steve & Michelle Chambers. So that weekend, I went shopping for assortments of palm trees, pink flamingos and alligators. Then after Jared arrived, Clayton brought back the news from their first meeting in Asheville that the party was now to have an under-the-sea theme! So we did a total u-turn. Amazingly, I found the King Neptune and Dolphins online within hours of getting the news of the new theme for the party.
 
However, after we showed them to Jared and got a thumbs-up, the next 3 weeks were hell. I had found them online from a vendor in Hilton Head, SC and there was a phone number and fax number listed.
I called daily for weeks and left messages. NO ANSWER AND NO RETURN CALLS! Frustrated to no end, I began looking for alternatives, none of which were as good. Ready to admit failure, I phoned one last time and got no answer and then out of frustration phoned the fax number…and after it rang about 20 times, someone picked up the phone. We chatted and they promised me that the owner would phone me back. He did and he was terrific. I learned that the website was an old one and obsolete…as was the phone number that I had been calling for weeks! Meeting Dynamics Inc., Hilton Head, SC is the company and we made a deal for them to deliver to Waynesville, NC and pick up for the return to Hilton Head. Happy ending to the tale!
 
 
SET DECOR: Wow! Was there something unexpectedly easy or serendipitous?
 
Frugal Framer, Asheville, NC amazingly had in stock, for some unknown reason, an inventory of colorful metal framing from the 1980s. I think I used it all. They also had closeouts of some very elaborate but cheap large-scale museum framing.
 
I also discovered Warren Fluharty Designs in Asheville, NC. A very respected interior designer, Warren has a large retail shop and warehouse. I was able to rent a lot of his inventory and ironically make it look rather tasteless and tacky when combined with our other set dressing!
 
SET DECOR: What was particularly helpful to have on this film?
 
Smith: For me, having Gia Grosso (SDSA) as the buyer was a real help, especially with her having just completed a couple of seasons of work in Atlanta and her knowledge of what was readily available in the prop houses there. And I had really nice crews in North Carolina and Puerto Rico.
 
 
SET DECOR: Please tell us about your collaboration with Production Designer Clayton Hartley…and your process…
 
Smith: Clayton has a long history of working with my good friend Set Decorator Jan Pascale SDSA, so I knew he would be terrific to work with on this project. Plus, I had done a few days of reshoots years ago with him when Jan wasn’t available and we had socialized on a few occasions. We had a terrific time. He is very respectful and supportive of his team. We had really nice communication.
 
In this movie, we started out with the idea that some things would be a little more tasteful, such as the Chambers mansion living room. However, as we got closer to dressing it, Clayton re-configured the look, based on a week of filming other sets and having a better read on what Jared Hess was shooting and might want. A few scrambles here and there but all for the benefit of the film…
 
 
 
SET DECOR: What were your resources for this film?
 
Smith: We sent two trucks and rented set dressing in bulk from the Atlanta-based vendors Meeks’ Props/now Central Atlanta Props and Sets, Georgia Prop Source, and RJR Props.
 
We used Made To Measure Designs & Upholstery and The Designer Fabric Studio, via FedEx and phone from Atlanta. From Wilmington, NC, we used Strickland Window Coverings.
 
Art was from LA: Dina Art Gallery and Seattle: Mardine Davis Art Consulting.
 
And a huge shout out to ISS in Los Angeles for the $5 million in fake, but legal-correct and believable money that got shifted to camera to convey the $17 million that was robbed.
 
 
SET DECOR: Speaking of resources, you are a former SDSA President and Chairman of the Board, and are a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of the Television Academy.
Please tell us about being a member of these groups and the importance of participation.
 
Smith: I am honored to be a member of the Motion Picture Academy and to have been lucky to have done enough films that allowed me to be voted in. I urge every set decorator to join the Television Academy as soon as they have enough hours to join and to participate. 
 
Being a member of the SDSA is so important in keeping our craft and our position as a part of the visual creative team alive. 
 
They are all a great way to network, to get to know other set decorators and share information. And they all help with the awareness of our craft. 
Just look at the success of SET DECOR.
And as a member of the SDSA I try to support as many of our Business Members as possible on each production I do.
 
 
SET DECOR: You have done so many great film and television productions! Do you have a favorite?
 
Smith: I have four. 
CIRQUE DU FREAK: The Vampire’s Assistant because it was so theatrical and I used a lot of my theatre skills and knowledge…
SHOPGIRL for its art house pedigree and the fact that it holds up well…
The HOLIDAY because of the look and it’s a Nancy Meyers film… 
My 90 episodes of NYPD BLUE for the variety and enormous amount of character set dressing required.
 
 
SET DECOR: Lastly, what do you always want to have with you when you do a film project?
 
Smith: Good energy and some fun. Though I take the work very seriously. I really love to work. Nothing is as much fun as dressing a set. Serendipity is always a big part of the equation and you never know when it will happen and what will appear. But somehow things always appear just at the right time.
 
 
 


film decor archives

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
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
limitless 2011-03-26
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