Production Designer Jess Gonchor and Set Decorator Claire Kaufman SDSA jumped in with Director Noah Baumbach to bring to life onscreen the “unfilmable” novel WHITE NOISE by Don DeLillo. It was a huge leap, including a total move to the center of the country...Ohio, to be exact...to frame the film in the heart of the heartland. The visual focus was two-fold: a heightened look and yet a lived-in reality of the mid-‘80s mid-America, suburbia with pops of pop. The rampant consumerism of the era, even away from the big cities, and its exploitive effect on the human psyche: the white noise.
From humorous to terrifying, ordinary to extraordinary!
Leslie E. Rollins SDSA talked with Claire and Jess about their journey with this unique film, grounding it visually and yet letting it fly as well.
Click on the video here for the fascinating conversation.
And get a peek at some aspects of their visual storytelling in our gallery below.
But, of course, the only way to really experience it is to see the film!
In theaters now, streaming on Netflix beginning December 30.
The Supermarket was the showcase symbol for the rampant consumerism of the mid-‘80s mid-America...suburbia with pops of pop. Products here find their way to other sets, whether in shapes or colors or the products themselves. Brands were accurate to their presentations in the 1980s, as were the working registers. Literally thousands of products were created to line the shelves! Photo by Wilson Webb © 2022 Netflix.
Supermarket...Set Decorator Claire Kaufman SDSA and her crew created over 6000 linear feet of filled shelving, with pre-determined color blocks throughout. BTW Each shelf had to have a depth of product, so the actors could have the freedom to pick anything off of any shelf and there not be a noticeable change. Did we mention dancing in the aisles??!!! Images courtesy Netflix © 2002. All photos by Wilson Webb © 2022 Netflix.
College-on-the-Hill...Where Jack Gladney [Adam Driver] is a professor specializing in Hitler studies. The professors, including Jack’s close friend Murray Suskind [Don Cheadle], meet for lunch daily. Cheadle reveals, “We’re all trying to make these points and there’s a sort of intellectualism on display, with not a lot of absorption... the words are all collapsing on top of everyone else’s.” Photos by Wilson Webb © 2022 Netflix.
College-on-the-Hill...Professor Gladney’s lecture hall. Photo by Wilson Webb © 2022 Netflix.
Gladney house. BTS: The wooden section on the left is being added to an existing location, for a scene on the roof. All interiors of the house were created onstage, incorporating elements of the floorplan for a smooth transition. Photo by Wilson Webb © 2022 Netflix.
Gladney house: Claire points out, “I worked from the idea that Jack has lived in this house for at least 16 years, he's been through all these marriages, and there are all these layers...” Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
Gladney house: The dated intaglio wallpaper and mural-style frieze are not as noticeable when everyday life starts to overtake. Here, it’s a mix of families and ages, and styles. Some contemporary furniture has been added along the way, from brass to chrome and classic bentwood. Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
Jack & Babette’s bedroom: Claire says, “The wallpaper and drapes have been there for years, but Jack and Babette bought this brand-new bedroom set for their new marriage.” Jess symbolically used circles throughout the film, thus Claire had this set custom-made. Click on the video to discover the symbolism! Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
The lived-in bathroom, complete with carpeting and stepped tub! Note, even the vanity mirror is round. Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
Denise’s bedroom: “We did manufacture Denise's bedroom wallpaper,” says Claire. “Noah came to me and said, ‘I really want Denise to feel like she's in this field of flowers.’ I looked at tons of wallpaper, but nothing was working. Then we found that bed sheet set, and it harkened back to a bedroom that I actually had growing up...you know, the wallpaper and the drapery all matched, and then there was the one kind of random music poster on the wall...” Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
Denise’s bedroom: “As always, Aaron’s team at Astek really came through with creating the wallpaper, and my team with dressing this 1980s teen set!” Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002
Gladney kitchen: A great family space with the center island. Click on the video to hear the backstory on this! And click on SHOW MORE PHOTOS below, to see more of the gallery! Photo courtesy Netflix © 2002