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Ronald V. Franco SDSA has recently completed his
third season decorating NBC’s popular science ﬁction drama HEROES, for which he has received three Emmy nominations.His decorating credits include
long-running FOX thriller THEX-FILES as well as pilots for the SHOWTIME dark comedy CALIFORNICATION and new NBC romantic
comedy LOVE BITES. Elected this year
as President of the Set Decorators Society of America, Ron has previously held
the position of Secretary for four consecutive years, and has been very active
with many of the committees. Ron is also an active member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences,
where he sits on the Art Director/Set Decorator Peer Group.
Faculty members at Palmdale High School first noticed
California native Ron Franco’s decorating talents when he began decorating the
student store windows.While still
in high school Ron was hired as a Visual
Merchandiser for the local J.C.
Boulevard was never the same!Says
Ron, "The instructional display tear sheets issued from corporate
headquarters in Chicago always ended up in the circular file and creative
liberty then went into effect." His favorite creations were White Sale promotions, where he created
entire vignettes from linens and soft goods.
What type of
education did you receive before going into the field of Set Decoration?
I received my Associate of Arts degree in Interior
Design from Brooks College in Long Beach.My first job was working in the interior design department of Toyota
Motors Regional Headquarters in Torrance, California.I knew I was seeking something more creative, so I left
Toyota in 1991 to work for Painted Space, a small set design ﬁrm in
Glendale.I managed the small
backdrop department while observing the teams of Set Decorators, Art Directors
and Set Dressers working to create music videos and commercials.Eventually I assisted established Set
Decorators Dea Jensen and Regina O'Brien SDSA, and decided that was what I
wanted to do.The company then
closed and I was forced to make cold calls, being persistent and not bothersome
was many times difficult. I attribute that persistence to where I am today.
sources do you find most useful for research and learning?
course, these days I spend most of my research time on the Internet.Many of my sources are discovered
online.I really find Amazon.com
to be particularly useful, and I always connect to Amazon.com through our
website!I also believe that
traveling (as much as possible) really helps you to understand the essence of people
Do you have
any personal favorites among your projects?
honestly don’t think I have a favorite – they have all been equally challenging
and rewarding.Of course,
HEROES was always interesting as it took place all over the world and at
various points in history.We went
to great lengths and much research to make the sets as realistic as possible.
describe a particularly memorable challenge in set decorating?
scheduling on HEROES required two and often three crews running
simultaneously.We had our main
unit, a second unit which was called the “simul” unit, and an insert unit doing
pick-ups.Lots of set dressing to
keep track of at all times.Thankfully I had a wonderful Leadman, Jim LaBarge, to help me navigate
through and keep it all on track.
do you have to offer those interested in the field of set decoration?
asked to advise to an up and coming Set Decorator, I always tell them Persistence!I remind them of how busy we are and how crazy our schedule
can get. I also tell them that they should speak of their interest to everyone
they come in contact with, because you never know who may be associated with
your impressions in these first months as President of the SDSA?
have learned so much about the amazing contributions and great success of our
Membership Committees – and urge our entire membership to get involved.The Community Outreach
Committee has raised funds for charities such as LA GOALas well as many other causes dear to us. Earlier
this summer Marketplace Committee put on a memorable Summer Street Festival on Universal Studio’s brand-new New York Street – it was a wonderful way
to celebrate our Business Members and their services. The Website Committee has re-invented our online presence and strives to keep
it fresh and relevant.I’m
discovering so many new features on the website, I use it frequently – direct
links to our Business Members, a more sophisticated search engine, SETDECOR
Online and always, the unique voice of our
are all very successful branches of our organization, and their success relies
on the volunteers.I’ve had a
great time assisting the Day With The
Decorator event! This extremely popular Educational Outreach
Committee event is currently one of our largest fundraisers.We’re looking forward with great
interest to this fall’s upcoming event - featuring sets from the hit television
show GLEE, thanks to Set Decorator
Barbara Munch SDSA.
Business Members play such an important part in supporting our organization.
With their support we’re able to fund many of our activities.We have a very long list of many highly
dedicated individuals and businesses that are there for us every time we
ask.It’s important that we thank
them for their generosity and remind them that we’re members every time we walk
into their door.We have both an online download and published Business Members Directoryand I am never without them… I think
most members keep them handy.
would you give other members of the SDSA who would like to make the most out of
involved.I feel passionate about
the direction and goals of the SDSA.I’ve established many great relationships within the organization and that
involvement been very beneficial.I’m now very comfortable calling fellow decorators to ask about their
agreements when I’m negotiating a project with the same studio...it’s hard to
believe that we now have to negotiate for that which we took for granted
previously.I’ve also been very
fortunate to receive referrals from other Set Decorators when they are asked
for recommendations for a decorator!
am most proud of the camaraderie we set decorators have with one another.True of show people everywhere, despite
down times and fierce competition for work in other states and countries, we
still find time to toast the accomplishments of our peers.I encourage everyone to make the most of their
membership and enjoy all the SDSA has to offer!