Wilson summer home... Set Decorator Florencia Martin SDSA International gives us insights into the creation of the sets...
“With the location as anchor, I dove into the idea of her parents having an appreciation for the arts and midcentury architecture and design, which lead me to weave midcentury furnishings with an eclectic mix of pieces from the ‘70s and ‘80s, echoing a beachy redwood color theme unique to Santa Cruz. The specific and dated nature of the decor is important to make the home feel very personal to act as a constant reminder to Adelaide of her past, further expressed by her sheer discomfort of being there, while still looking natural and not giving the story away...”
“I found this beautiful simple midcentury sofa at Modernica that fit into the space and the family of four perfectly, which was important as Jordan has a very specific shot idea for the first meeting of the mirrored family...”
“I loved the idea of Red having a throne-like position during her introduction monologue. It is so important that she had the power and center focus in this moment. Jordan agreed and we both loved this natural rattan chair that would be classic for Santa Cruz...”
“I spent a lot of time with my incredibly talented team researching African American culture in Santa Cruz in the ‘70s/'80s, as the script dictated that is when Adelaide grows up there as a little girl. I tried to give the house a backstory of music culture, imaging that Adelaide’s parents had moved to Santa Cruz for the arts, thus choosing ballet as a therapeutic device. I found the gourd wrapped lamp at Wertz Furniture...it originally belonged to the Gene Hackman estate. I loved how each piece was unique and became part of a collection through time...”
“All the Ikat and Mudcloth throws, I collected over time from Etsy and local markets. The small paintings are by a local Santa Cruz artist. Buyer Allison Isenberg contacted about a dozen artists that were interested in working with us.
We removed all the location homeowners’ belongings and filled the room with books about art and culture and an extensive record, CD and tape collection that showed the background of Adelaide’s life. Our set dressing team did a beautiful job of making this look natural, as if it had been there for a long time...”
“It was very important for Jordan to have a sense of Adelaide’s family in the home. I worked with my buyers, Allison Isenberg and Katie Childs, to find vintage frames and create 'Grandma’s' collection of photos. The actors graciously allowed us to use their personal photos, which we collaged with ‘family’ photos we took on set. I especially loved receiving the ones of Jason’s shadows, which mirrors the next scene when the Wilson family are walking on the beach...”
“Our first time seeing the interior of the Wilson House in the film is the dining room. I wanted to use a lot of natural materials and colors to set us in Santa Cruz. Early on, we found the round cage-like wicker lamp, which I thought would look great for our night shots. The majority of the house takes place in the dark, so I looked for pieces that had a lot of shape and texture...”
“This is one of my favorite corners of the house. I was very inspired from an African American interior designer book from the ‘80s I had discovered on eBay. I found the sectional and the perfect period pillows at Omega Cinema Props. This painting is by the same artist as the piece over the mantel. I liked that the family would have had various pieces by the same artist, collecting them from an art fair or gallery show...”
“This hallway was inspired by the homes of many of my friends’ parents who were interested in the arts. It had such a nostalgia for me...the carpeted floor and the picture gallery. I was very drawn to these art works for both not being too precious and for their symbolism, although I did not set out with that goal! I was interested in the pieces based on color and composition. We added the ‘80s style track lighting to date the home and not make things feel too architecturally modern...”
“The Master Bedroom was originally Adelaide’s parents' room. I especially wanted this room to feel slightly old-fashioned and stopped in time. It is a pinnacle scene when Adelaide explains her past, and I wanted the nostalgia of her parents to also be suffocating her...”
“We embraced the built-ins here and Omega Cinema Props had the most incredible collection of beauty period-accurate pillows. The curtains are an Ikat plaid from Scalamandre (and no longer in stock, so we had to be creative!) One of my favorite pieces is the modular side chair found at Modernica...”
“We had so much fun dressing out this closet! It was a combination of an arts + crafts and game closet, but also importantly Jason's favorite hide out. I love all the Easter eggs our buyer, Katie Childs, collected for this closet - they’re fun to spot!”
“It was important to have a very sharp distinction between the two families’ homes. Where the Wilson house was soft and eclectic, I wanted the Tyler house to feel sharp and superficial. Although we still have natural elements which are present in coastal design, the furniture is all high design or nature framed and forced into art. I found this 'hammerhead' chair (Ox chair by Hans Werner) during one of the first shopping trips during prep, and it became an anchor for me. I love finding a piece that then allows for the rest of the design to stem off from...”
“This house needed to have a lot of different specifications for the shot list, so it was a challenge to have the main living, kitchen and dining room be in a long and narrow open plan space. The homeowners had the space laid out completely differently, so as I found pieces that looked good, we showed the new layout to Jordan to ensure it still worked for the specific blockage...”
“It was a great collaboration with our prop master to think of what weapons these kids were going to be drawn to. I like this shot and how, although we found art and furniture made of natural materials, it felt cold and constrained...”
“We were very fortunate to be able to shoot on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It sets up our story, and we had a great time looking at research and bringing it back to the ‘80s. Our set dressing team did an excellent job of transforming a working boardwalk into our period set in tight time constraints, as it would have to go back into operations the next morning. It is always a fun challenge to come up with solutions that don’t impact the design but allow us to work on locations like these...”
“There was an Americana bottle toss game further down the boardwalk, but it would have not worked with our shot, so we re-created it in our area. I kept the theme from the other game and designed this over what was originally a coin toss booth. We scouted and measured a couple times and created vinyl skins at Omega. We made custom hand printed signs and purchased custom fabric pendants from Etsy. For the prizes, we were able to use real period accurate t-shirts. Allison found a vendor in downtown LA who still imports simple looking stuffed animals that fit the period...”
“One of the most special parts of designing and visually defining US was collaborating with our production designer, art director, producer and Jordan on the Underpass. Jordan wrote an incredible script with so many details that inspired incredible ideas throughout the process. He worked closely with all departments to discuss every detail. He was an incredible collaborator. We had many, many versions of this set, and I love where we landed...”
“One of the many design conversations revolved around the rabbit cages. We chose to use the same material as the key prop, the brass scissors. We initially tried to paint the grid wall but the samples came out looking flat and fake. Omega’s Alan Songer helped me find a vendor that ended up coating the cages in a real brass finish, which beautifully caught the light and highlighted the minimal design...”
“I worked with an illustrator to help discover what would be illustrated on the chalkboards. We landed on the idea that each tethered would have drawn themselves joining the line. The imagery is basic and child like…no spoilers. I drew this line with various people before we shot the real human chain in Santa Cruz. It spooks me that the beach was not flat and this drawn chain is similar to what was formed in person!”
“We spent a while looking for the right school desks, and found these on a school auction site in the Midwest. They have a classic schoolroom look to me and we painted them to fit our specific color palette...”
After sending shockwaves across contemporary culture and setting a new standard for provocative, socially conscious horror films with his directorial debut, GET OUT, Academy Award®-winning visionary JORDAN PEELE returns with another original nightmare! Collaborating with Production Designer Ruth de Jong, Set Decorator Florencia Martin SDSA International, Director of Photography Michael Gioulakis, Costume Designer Kym Barrett and their teams, his new film is even more terrifying, and just as psychologically incisive and extraordinarily original.
Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Adelaide Wilson [Lupita Nyong’o] returns to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe [Winston Duke], and their two children, Zora [Shahadi Wright Joseph] and Jason [Evan Alex], for an idyllic summer getaway. Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense day at the beach with their friends, Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home to discover the silhouettes of four figures standing in their driveway. US pits an ordinary American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
“The idea for this movie came from a deep-seated fear in doppelgängers,” Peele says. “I love doppelgänger mythologies and the movies that have dealt with them, and I wanted to make my offering to that pantheon of ‘evil- double’ films. I was drawn to this idea that we are our own worst enemy. That’s something we all know intrinsically, but it’s a truth we tend to bury. We blame the outsider, we blame ‘the other.’
In this movie, the monster has our faces.”
In the gallery above, Set Decorator Florencia Martin SDSA International gives us an insider view of the sets and lets us in on some of the creative decisions made for the visual augmentation of Peele’s unique storytelling, keeping a balance of naturalism and elemental details that can take you further, as you will discover each time you look...
Here’s the first peek...
“The Wilson House was the first set we shot on US, and also served as our first introduction to Adelaide and her family in the film. Needing to feel nestled in the redwoods of Santa Cruz, we chose this house for its woodsy interior and huge windows with a great view to the gorgeous oak trees wrapping around the exterior. This location served as my anchor for developing the character and backstory for the Wilsons. I dove into the idea of her parents having an appreciation for the arts and midcentury architecture and design, which lead me to weave midcentury furnishings with an eclectic mix of pieces from the ‘70s and ‘80s, echoing a beachy redwood color theme unique to Santa Cruz. I spent a lot of time looking for African American painters and local Santa Cruz artists from different eras, from the '80s to present, who would be interested in being a part of the film. The specific and dated nature of the decor is important to make the home feel very personal to act as a constant reminder to Adelaide of her past, further expressed by her sheer discomfort of being there, while still looking natural and not giving the story away.”