LA District Attorney offices: Counter-terrorism unit bullpen - 2002
Maps of different cities that are within the LA County DA’s domain, case boards and missing persons montages line the walls. Set Decorator Andrea Joel SDSA sourced the sconces and desk lamps through lighting vendor Practical Props…
The mid-century look was kept through the time change, but enhanced when Claire Sloan took office, particularly with lamps and art. The aerial freeway photo is from that period; the doorway wall is a replication of the actual LA DA’s reception room…
LA District Attorney office, reception - 2015 Reverse shot of the reception area. Framed photographs of iconic LA architecture and period aerial maps line the walls. A doorway offers a glimpse into Claire’s office…
“The stunning hummingbird paintings by Joe Aaron depict their solitary nature, very much like the personality of Claire Sloan,” says Joel, who revamped the Morales-era office into this updated and sophisticated version in creams and wood tones…
Art and artifacts enhance and personalize the space. Bradley Hankey’s painting Sunset and Crescent Heights and the clean lines of the furnishings augment the contemporary yet classic refinement of Claire’s office…
Joel describes the house as, “Very expensive, meticulous, eclectic, with a touch of French deco. The draperies are very beautiful damask, but with a twist, on iron contemporary drapery rods. The house is very well appointed, but not personal, except for the family photos on the piano…”
“Even the Christmas decorations are as if a florist had come in and decorated the house,” Joel remarks. “The paintings were English or Dutch oils from various periods, but all Old World…” Note: The first aid kit on the ottoman is integral to the storyline…
This set is a fictional depiction from the script, not a re-creation, representing 20-30 years of storage of completed and cold cases. The 7-ft tall shelving units were custom-built to fill a vast space expanding out from the entrance area.
This is the key row of many, comprised of a total of 2500 bankers boxes! “We used several different styles of boxes and labels to indicate the changes over the years,” Joel says. “The styles of the labeling came from my research at the LA DA office.”
Now an executive for the NY York Mets as head of their security, Ray [Chiwetel Ejiofor] spends his nights trawling national security database photos, searching for Carolyn’s killer. The sculpture is one she had given him…
“This house was a functional house,” Joel relates. “It portrayed Jess’s state of mind in the 13 years that had passed. She had created her own type of prison. The house reflected that. Pieces were brought from the other house, but the life had literally left…”
Interweaving a tragic past against the backdrop of Los Angeles, the constantly surprising mystery SECRET IN THEIR EYES explores the personal themes of loss, betrayal, and a parent’s undying will to right a profound wrong. DA investigator Jess Cobb [Julia Roberts], FBI investigator Ray Kasten [Chiwetel Ejiofor], and Deputy District Attorney Claire Sloan [Nicole Kidman] are rising stars, having been selected to serve on an anti-terrorism joint task force in post 9/11 Los Angeles. Jess and Ray are tight-knit partners who share a deep respect and an easy friendship. Ray and Claire have a complicated attraction that is a constant undercurrent in their day-to-day encounters. When Ray and Jess are called to investigate a murder scene, they discover the unthinkable -- the victim is Jess’s daughter, Caroline. They join forces with Claire to bring the killer to justice. Their mission, however, meets a cold reality when they discover their suspect is a protected federal witness and is set free. Thirteen years later, despite their attempts to find an even keel to their lives, Ray, Claire and Jess still bear wounds that won’t heal. But when Ray uncovers a new lead, he returns to L.A. to convince Claire and Jess to revisit the case. No one, however, is prepared for the shocking secret that lurks behind the manhunt and illuminates the emotional cost of vengeance and justice. --STX
The story and film jump back and forth between a horrific event in 2002 and the repercussions that are still unfolding in 2015, the effect it has had and how it continues to manifest in the lives of many of the characters.
Production Designer Nelson Coates reveals, “I wanted this to feel like a contemporary noir movie and really make it all urban. In almost every shot I wanted it to have connections to downtown Los Angeles so that it feels a little dark, crowded, dense, claustrophobic.”Director Billy Ray notes, “Events in the year 2002 were shot anamorphic and those in 2015 were shot spherical. The attempt there was to differentiate between the two, visually."
Visual markers for each time period include computer monitors, telephones and cellphones. To establish the initial era, in which the storyline emphasizes the heightened security immediately post-9/11, Set Decorator Andrea Joel SDSA incorporated 9/11 posters and a collage of missing persons based on actual 9/11 collages. She visited the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in order to ensure accuracy of the depiction of the DA investigators’ bullpen. “We also wanted to show that the filing system had become more complicated and busier from 2002 into 2015, so we kept adding more dressing!” She adds, “To help distinguish 2015, Billy Ray set this part of the story at Christmas, which gives Ray Kasten a defined limited time to be in Los Angeles. You can see holiday decorations in many of the 2015 scenes, especially the lobby of the building of the DA office.”
The DA’s office is a key set that appears in both time frames. The architecture remains the same, but the look changes to reflect not only the change in time but also the change in personalities, from Martin Morales [Alfred Molina] to Claire Sloan.
“Morales is a very self-absorbed person, a deeply corrupt autocrat,” describes Joel. “His office is masculine and traditional, with heavy black leather furnishings and a Victorian campaign desk. I added a telescope and a camera collection to represent his obsession with his image and power. The only personal photo is one of Morales and his mother, plus head shots for his re-election campaign—enlarged, of course!”
“Claire Sloan is a very meticulous businesswoman. Her furnishings were light, cream and wood, with very simple, elegant structure.” The dark William Morris style carpet was replaced with a banded plush. The sconces were changed out, the draperies are more sophisticated, and a small bar area was added. Art has a subtle but strong impact here: paintings—an urban diptych anchors the seating area, sculptures ranging from classic bronzes to early stone and a collection of vases and glass pieces. “There were more personal effects on the bookshelves, because she really considered that home,” says Joel. “We added more files and boxes to show the depth and intensity of her work, and to carry that through from the earlier period.” To add a personal touch for each actor, she placed containers filled with their favorite candy.
The deepest character-revealing sets are those for Jess, who moves from her once happy home of 2002 to a more isolated country house that we see in 2015. Joel incorporated pieces from Jess’s original home into the house of 2015, but conveyed a completely different mood.
“The home Jess shared with her daughter Carolyn was family-oriented, filled with personal mementos, as well as representations of Carolyn’s metal art work,” Joel imparts. “The kitchen was light and airy and had a feeling of joy.”
“Carolyn’s artwork was compelling. Family meant everything to her and she showed it by creating metalwork sculptures of families or family-type groupings. They were simple, understated, reflecting the innocence and goodness that she possessed.” Joel reveals, “The artwork was done by Gail Chavenelle, a wonderful artist from Dubuque, Iowa, whom we found on Etsy. Gail worked with us for almost a month to create the necessary looks that Billy Ray wanted.
She also sent us some of her working sheets of metal so we could have those in evidence as works in progress. She was terrific to work with, as was my whole crew.”
“First of all, Billy Ray was a gem of a person to work with. He is such a kind human being. I was very lucky. Timing is everything.”
“Brent Rice was my incredible leadman. His suggestions and organization were invaluable, and he assembled the greatest crew I could have hoped for. We had so many locations—I often had to be in two places at once—and at each location, the help I had from my crew was extraordinary. I don’t do my job alone. It takes a team and a lot of collaboration. Ethan Goodwin was my buyer. What fun we had, even on some of the most hassled days. Ethan’s help made even the most trying days seem fun.”
“It seems that money and time are now a staple of every challenge on a set, whether TV or film,” she adds. “This was a 34 day shoot with 23 locations to redress, 14 built sets to dress. It makes a world of difference having vendors you can count on.”
SDSA Business members Joel particularly relied on were:· · Advanced Liquidators
· Alpha Medical
· EC Props
· Faux Library
· Hollywood Studio Gallery
· Green Set
· Lenny Marvin
· Modern Props
· Omega Cinema Props
· Practical Props
· Sandy Rose Florals
· Warner Bros. Property and Drapery
· Universal Property
Set Decorator Andrea Joel SDSA is a multiple Emmy-winning set decorator, who should also probably receive a special one for longevity! 331 episodes of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, from 1984-2014! SECRET IN HER EYES is her first film…