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Hot Off The Set!

All rights reserved on ALL content, including photographs and text. THIS MATERIAL IS FOR THE SOLE USE OF SETDECOR MAGAZINE and the SDSA. Reproduction or use of the material in any way or by any means for any purpose without permission from the Set Decorators Society of America is strictly prohibited.

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Chemistry teacher Walter White [Bryan Cranston] in his secret meth lab, hidden within a decrepit RV parked in the New Mexico desert.

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Albuquerque DEA

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Jane’s Bedroom: The tragic tattoo artist’s prophetic “headboard” was painted by a well-known Albuquerque street artist, a member of Meyers-Ballard crew.

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Hank & Marie’s Living Room: Marie overspends, has an affinity for purple, is convinced that she has great decorating taste, and happens to be a kleptomaniac.

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El Paso DEA

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Jesse [Aaron Paul] and Walt [Bryan Cranston] stranded in the desert with an RV full of meth.

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Chemistry teacher Walter White [Bryan Cranston] in his secret meth lab, hidden within a decrepit RV parked in the New Mexico desert.

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Beneke Office Reception

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Beneke Office

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Jane's Studio: “Jane's drafting table came from the first shipments that Universal Studios brought from L.A. for their new Albuquerque location. ‘Film Maker’ was the first professional prophouse that my set dressers had ever seen!” Meyers-Ballard

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Meth Lab: In order to fit a major meth lab into the cramped interior of an RV, all the usual built-ins were pulled out, replaced with shelving and custom-made equipment, which were then replicated in the same sized space onstage to create the full lab.

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Crack House: Layers of “filth” dressed in by Meyers-Ballard and her team, all which is actually clean, for the health and safety of the actors and production crew.

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Hank & Marie’s Backyard: The other side. Walt’s sister-in-law is married to the top DEA official in Albuquerque.

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Crack House: Meyers-Ballard brought in toilets, sinks, fabrics and other materials that had been appropriately “stained” and “aged” by Leadperson Michael Flowers and their crew.

breaking bad

Set Decorator Brenda Meyers-Ballard SDSA

The graphic results of “breaking bad” are turning more ominous with each episode of the dark, twisted and appropriately titled hit series…
Bad choices metastasize down paths as ugly and dangerous as Walt’s* cancer. The gritty world of crack & meth is unveiled, interwoven with seemingly disparate “ordinary” lives…

BREAKING BAD, conjured by creator/writer Vince Gilligan, is visually brought to life in Season 2 by Set Decorator Brenda Meyers-Ballard SDSA, Production Designer Robb Wilson King, Propmaster Mark Hansen, Cinematographer Michael Slovis and their teams.** Meyers-Ballard notes, “The visual concept is created from the core of its characters.”

Nothing in the frame is unintentional. Observant viewers have noticed that a singed pink teddy bear dropping from the sky in the season finale had subtly appeared in the background in earlier episodes: in an abandoned motel meth drop, in a garage-band video, in a toy section of a supermarket and, most significantly, in the painting above the tattoo artist’s bed. [See photos.]

The de-humanization of addiction
Meyers-Ballard notes the refuse-strewn grime marking the disintegration of a meth couple’s suburban family home is on a different level of filth and sordidness from a derelict crack house. For the fetid squalor of the latter, she brought in toilets and sinks that Leadperson Michael Flowers and their crew “patina-ed” into seemingly urine-stained muck. Both sets provided haunting insight into the de-humanization of addiction. [See photos.]

Location for location
Desert mountains surrounding Albuquerque, NM, add a parched, surreal backdrop to the realism of the story, as does shooting on location throughout the town. Actual shops and businesses are incorporated, giving local flavor to this slice of middle-class America. However, working far from the prop houses and industry resources of Los Angeles requires Meyers-Ballard to also factor cross-country shipping & delivery into an already intensely compressed 8-day/episode schedule.

Scale & specifics
DEA offices and a light-industry manufacturing plant are among the larger spaces depicted—Meyers-Ballard and a metal sculptor had one night to design and create a wall-sized sculpture—but the most challenging was the huge meth lab compacted within the confines of an RV. She ordered large custom hand-blown, glass “cookers”, keeping the dimensions in accurate ratio [as determined by DEA technical advisors and Gilligan’s configurations via email from LA]. The shipment arrived from out of state just in time to set up for the shoot, the glass necks barely clearing the height of the RV ceiling as the containers sat on the requisite heating elements, creating the exact look Gilligan had envisioned. [See photos.]

For Hank & Marie’s, one of the many homes portrayed, Meyers-Ballard flirts with but reins in the furnishings for the nouveau riche-wannabe Marie (who has a penchant for purple), reminding us that, “You’ve got to keep it real to make the story work.” [See photos.]

“This season took such a stark, heart-wrenching and desolate route,” she continues, "I’m deeply curious what the story lines will be in Season 3, how the consequences of ‘breaking bad’ will continue to play out.”

* Lead character Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston
** 1st Season, seven episodes – Set Decorator Susan Magestro

For more on the original AMC TV program BREAKING BAD click here: amctv.com
For more on renting furniture and props in Albuquerque, NM, visit SDSA business member:
http://www.filmmakerproductionservices.com/ , ask for Meredith.


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