1. What type of education did you receive before going in to the field of set decoration?
I’ve paid tuition to University California Santa Barbara, Harvard University and The American Film Institute. I’ve had some very expensive student loans!
And, great memories of stories by AFI teachers and Production Designers Henry Bumstead
and Bob Boyle, and their time spent working with "Hitch".
2. Which sources would you say are the best tools for research and learning?
Hennessey and Ingall art and architectural bookstore is a consistent place of inspiration. Images on google.com is a great resource for obscure images. I also take a lot of pictures of random places that I happen to go into – Ex. insurance offices, muffler shops, and dry cleaners. Sometimes the mundane is the hardest to do.
I really appreciate looking at vendor websites for ideas and sources. I was recently out of town on a job and couldn’t find good funeral arrangements so I looked up Jackson Shrub’s site
, saw exactly what I wanted and had the silks shipped to me.
3. Name three of your favorite projects and why.
I did a film set in East L.A. (“Sueno”) with a very fun Italian Production Designer, Stefania Cella, when she was 8 months pregnant at the time. Can imagine all that hot-blooded energy? It was a great time.
I’ve done several commercials for a Japanese production company where I was one of the few Americans on the crew. Very organized, detailed and the food was fantastic. Luckily there was an interpreter.
Most recently, I worked on a film that shot in Spokane, WA (“Home of the Brave”). There certainly were some difficulties along the way but the Producers and UPM were people that I really respected. That means everything to me.. The only down side was there was no Hollywood Studio Gallery or Pinacoteca to run to for cleared artwork so I actually ended up renting from the local museum. Yes, I was nervous with all that original artwork!
4. What has been your biggest challenge as a set decorator?
Self-promotion. It’s hard to do but a very important aspect of the job. We need to let people know who we are and what we’re good at.
5. If you were able to design a bedroom any way that you desired, what style or styles would you choose?
I’m very attracted to natural environments and materials. Calming colors, soft fibers and elements of nature. I love it when a bedroom looks out onto a garden. For me, the bedroom should be a place of refuge and escape. Absolutely no television!
6. What are the current contents of your car?
I snack all day so most important is the well stocked food box; jerky, nuts, dried fruits and water. Then there’s the work box; measuring tape, camera, hold tags, the photo ID badge I stole from Ikea, Debbie’s book, SDSA business member sheet and wet wipes. Jack Kornfield CDs to get me through bad traffic days.
7. What advice do you have for those interested in the field of set decorating (including those new and already in the profession)?
Don’t take it all too personally. It’s easier said then done – but you can’t be married to the sets. Changes and input are a part of the process.
8. Which three tools of your profession can you not be without?
Cell phone, computer and a great Lead Man.
9. Biggest set decorating disaster?
Who could forget the time when furniture from a permanent set was inadvertently taken to St. Vincent DePaul thrift store. Never to be seen of again.
10. What advice would you give other members of the SDSA on how to get the most benefit from their membership?
Jump in and take advantage of the opportunity to meet other decorators. I feel fortunate to call many members and business members of the SDSA friends.