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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 THE X-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. Penney store. Lancaster 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.

     

    Which sources do you find most useful for research and learning?

    Of 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 and places. 

     

    Do you have any personal favorites among your projects?

    I 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.

     

    Can you describe a particularly memorable challenge in set decorating?

    The 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.

     

    What advice do you have to offer those interested in the field of set decoration?

    When 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 the industry.

     

    What are your impressions in these first months as President of the SDSA?

    I 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 GOAL  as 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 membership! These 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.

     Our 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 Directory and I am never without them… I think most members keep them handy.

     

    What advice would you give other members of the SDSA who would like to make the most out of their membership?

    Get 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!

     I 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!








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