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
 

THE FOUNDER

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    On the road…

    In the heartland of America, salesman Ray Kroc
    [Michael Keaton] struggles with sales of an innovative multi-milkshake machine…


    Photo by Daniel McFadden
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    Kroc’s office, Illinois…

    Set Decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA brought several 1950-1960’s offices to life for the film…

    Note the vintage lamps, equipment and accessories that set the period without shouting it, but always with a unique touch as well...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    San Bernardino, CA…

    Ray Kroc [Michael Keaton] hears of and checks out a popular burger place that developed its own Speedee System for producing the food. This was post-war America when people were time-strapped and clamoring for speed...


    Photo by Daniel McFadden
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    San Bernardino, CA…

    Ray Kroc [Michael Keaton] meets the owners,
    the McDonald brothers Mac
    [John Carroll Lynch] and Dick [Nick Offerman]...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    San Bernardino, CA…

    The McDonald brothers
    [John Carroll Lynch,
    Nick Offerman] test the five-spindle Multimixer...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    San Bernardino, CA…

    Kroc was impressed by the efficiency of the brothers' assembly line system and saw franchise potential...

    Although well documented, an operational now-vintage physical system was challenging to pull together for filming...

    John Carroll Lynch,
    Nick Offerman,
    Michael Keaton
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    San Bernardino, CA…

    The new McDonald’s was born...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald brothers office…

    Ray [Michael Keaton] is describing the depth of franchise potential to Dick [Nick Offerman]. The brothers hire him to be their franchising agent...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald brothers office…





    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald’s…

    Ray Kroc
    [Michael Keaton] recruits scores of franchisees to open their very own McDonald’s...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald brothers office…

    Upon seeing Dick McDonald's design of the unique golden arches exterior [note framed rendering in background],
    Kroc [Michael Keaton] insisted that every location should feature the iconic flourish...

    John Carroll Lynch,
    Nick Offerman,
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald’s…

    Kroc [Michael Keaton] envisioned the golden arches as a Pop Art beacon...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC


    McDonald’s…

    Although the franchising operations are successful, Kroc is under personal financial pressure because of his small cut.
    A finance expert advises him to see it as a
    real estate business, buying land for future sites and leasing them to franchisees, which would bypass the brothers...

    Michael Keaton
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    McDonald’s…

    Since the McDonald brothers’ rights only extended inside the walls of the restaurants the plan gave Kroc a steady revenue stream, and he pushed the expansion...

    Michael Keaton
    ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    Kroc home…

    Ray Kroc [Michael Keaton] tries to convince his long-suffering wife Ethel
    [Laura Dern] that this will not be another failed business scheme...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC


  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    Kroc home…

    After 39 years Ethel
    [Laura Dern] is wary of her husband Ray’s
    [Michael Keaton] schemes...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    Kroc home…

    Set Decorator Benjamin reveals, “In the course of creating their house, I decided Ethel would have carefully arranged her space to mimic the House and Garden magazines that were popular at the time...”


    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    Kroc home…

    Feeling neglected while Ray [Michael Keaton] spends most of his time on the road in his manic drive to succeed,
    Ethel [Laura Dern] wants to have a more normal life, attending the weekly country club dinners together...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC


  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    Kroc home…

    Ethel [Laura Dern] doesn’t want her obsessive entrepreneurial husband [Michael Keaton] to mortgage their home for his latest idea...


    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

  • set decorator
    Susan Benjamin SDSA

    production designer
    Michael Corenblith

    TWC

    McDonald’s…

    In 1961, Ray Kroc buys out the brothers’ stake and becomes the owner, president and CEO, going on to build the fast-food empire that now has 35,000 locations worldwide...

    Photo by Daniel McFadden ©2016 TWC

 
Set Decorator of THE FOUNDER, Susan Benjamin SDSA, ponders the interconnection with the dynamic period of post-war America when people were time-strapped and clamoring for speed...the ethics and politics of then and now... *
 

I loved working on THE FOUNDER. Besides the joy and ease of collaborating with a team that I admire and have worked with on previous projects, the story propelled me into a new exploration of thought about American values and history.  
 
It is a timeless story and one that keeps revealing new layers as current events seem to mimic the questions raised in the film. The story is about how Ray Kroc burrowed his way into the McDonald brothers’ business and eventually bought their name and ideas, to create the fast food empire we know today. I can't help wondering after this past election, if Kroc were still alive, would he have run for president?
 
During the filming of the project, I was asked to be a guest speaker at a Graduate class for Brand Marketing at The New School of Social Research in New York.
 
One of the class team's projects was rebranding McDonalds after a slew of scandals had dampened their profits and image. The research boards they had compiled in written time lines looked similar to the historical facts our film team had collected through photographs.
 
McDonalds had recently changed their menu to include sustainably farmed, non-hormone-injected chicken. The students were searching for another tactic that would maintain the company’s place in the marketplace among the more "conscious" consumers. I noticed they had omitted the famous "Royal with Cheese" that Samuel Jackson had popularized in Quentin Tarantino's film PULP FICTION.
 
Other than that, I personally, had no suggestions and was clearly not the consumer they were looking to reach. The closest I get to eating fast food is the takeout sushi from the supermarket and the vegetarian sub from Subways in times of desperation.
 
But I do have memories of McDonalds from when I was growing up that I think about every time I pass the Golden Arches. One in particular was during a summer camp in New Hampshire. We were on a camping trip that took us into the wilderness for a whole 3 days. We were dirty and grubby and longing for a hot shower and food to eat that did not come out of a can and that we did not have to prepare. As the van progressed down the highway out of the mountains, I remember a cheer of elation as we all saw the Golden Arches emerge through the sea of evergreen trees. "Civilization!" We all exclaimed. A burger and fries never tasted so good.   
 
My generation grew up with McDonalds.  We saw the progression of design changes on the various restaurants, the addition of the Ronald McDonald character, the outdoor playground, “Happy Meals”, and the million-to-billion number of people served on the outdoor sign.
 
Research is my favorite part of my job as a Set Decorator. It was easy to find images of McDonalds, but not so easy to re-create the actual operating Speedee System inside the restaurant.
 
Yes, the 1950's motels and restaurants were fun to decorate. But the more interesting challenge was decorating the inside of Ray and Ethel Kroc's home. Ethel, his wife of 39 years, was a housewife who was content with what she had, so long as she could go out to the country club dinners on weekends. She did not understand her husbands burning ambition.  
 
In the course of creating their house, I decided Ethel would have carefully arranged her space to mimic the House and Garden magazines that were popular at the time.  It occurred to me how easy it was to criticize Ray's cutting ambition and craving for success at all costs, while accepting the more insidious suggestions of "good American living" advertised in these magazines. Like the McDonald brothers, Ethel was clinging to the gentler simpler mores of the past while Ray was plunging full steam in to the more aggressive future.
 
Other fast food restaurants have emerged since it's inception, but collectively McDonalds holds the place of the true iconic fast food restaurant in our hearts. Whether or not you eat at McDonalds, you accept its presence as much as you do the ubiquitous flag on a public building, as Ray envisioned.
 
In a time when we are challenging our institutions, it will be interesting to see what old ones fall into the nostalgia of the past and what will remain or emerge in the future.

 
 

 
Editor’s note:
In terms of the film and television industry, which has become more geographically widespread, Benjamin points out, “It's great to know that our business members offer support to all of us Set Decorators, wherever we may be filming! Because we filmed in Atlanta, we shopped in antique stores and thrift shops around town and relied on:
 
·      Antonio Raimo Galleries LTD - artwork in the Kroc house...
 
·      Art for Film in NYC - artwork in the hotel rooms...
 
·      The Designer Fabric Studio in Atlanta helped with period fabric in Kroc’s office and home...
 
·      Made to Measure Design and Upholstery helped with all furnishings and drapes throughout the entire film. Gail Blackwell is amazing! 
Made the headboard and bedspreads in the Kroc house even though they were kind of ugly and she did not understand I wasn’t looking for the best looking stuff!!!!  Also made ALL of our drapes throughout the movie and reupholstered sofas and chairs for us...  
 
·      Practical Props sent us period lighting for the McDonald Brothers office and Kroc office all the way from LA to Atlanta...
 
·      American Screen and Window shipped all our 2” blinds to Atlanta. We used them throughout the film.”
 
 

 

 
 
*You can visit Benjamin’s blog about the life of a set decorator by clicking here:
http://susanbenjamin.net/sue-b-blogging/
Then come back and read more of Film Decor!
 
 
 
 
 
 


film decor archives

LOGAN 2017-03-03
FIFTY SHADES DARKER 2017-02-23
HAIL, CAESAR! 2017-02-20
ARRIVAL 2017-02-15
LA LA LAND 2017-02-14
20th CENTURY WOMEN 2017-01-23
ALLIED 2017-01-11
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
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