June 27th, 2022 by Marcia Calosio SDSA
"OUTER RANGE centers on Royal Abbott [Josh Brolin], a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming's wilderness. A thrilling fable with hints of wry humor and supernatural mystery, OUTER RANGE examines how we grapple with the unknown." Prime Video
Set Decorator Marcia Calosio SDSA brings earthy reality to this sometimes supernatural mystery. With fascinating behind-the-scenes insights, Marcia shares how she was able to bring her personal experiences with ranching to the story of OUTER RANGE.
You don’t want to miss this one! –KB, Editor
Set Decorator Marcia Calosio SDSA...
I became involved with the OUTER RANGE project because of my love for contemporary westerns, but this one was especially interesting because it deviated from the traditional to a story rich with supernatural twists and unexpected turns.
The story is about Royal Abbott [Josh Brolin], a Wyoming cattle rancher fighting to hold onto his land and his family from outside forces. It’s a story of real people grappling with the unknown, so I needed to show a solid foundation of a fierce family bond, respect for nature, protection of land and livestock, and devotion to community and church for them to draw from.
Abbott Ranch Entrance. Set Decorator Marcia Calosio SDSA describes, “Simple, practical just like the family. The house and barn we built are in the distance.” Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
Our extraordinary construction team built an entire ranch from scratch in northern New Mexico on private property. A large, fully insulated 2-story farmhouse was constructed in a gorgeous setting, along with a large barn containing stalls, tack room, workshop, and many, many bales of hay...exterior corrals, miles of fencing, and shed structures.
One of the biggest obstacles we had was, although the whole story was to take place over a 2-week span, we started shooting in winter and wrapped in summer. Because of numerous winter weather issues, we had to build an exact duplicate of the first floor of the farmhouse on stage more than 3 hours away, which enabled us to shoot when it wasn’t possible to get up to the ranch.
Abbott kitchen…. “The heart and soul of the home.” [Editor’s note: Notice the snow outside the window.] Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
My most difficult challenge was duplicating every single bit of dressing on that first floor in a very short time frame. We succeeded in about 80% duplication, the rest had to be moved back and forth. Snow, ice, remote areas, Covid pauses, and weekly winter storms were the norm, as well as constantly battling mud everywhere in the Spring.
Abbott kitchen...Can you tell which is the re-creation? Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
We also had to make the ranch safe for the nearby herd of Elk who watched us curiously from the tree lines during the day and came after our hay at night! My amazing crew worked through some tough conditions and did an extraordinary job.
Abbott Parlor. “Peaceful and serene, with upright piano from previous generations”. Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
In the traditional homespun ranch setting, I felt authenticity was of the utmost importance. A ranch that had been handed down with pride from generation to generation, the furnishings needed to reflect that with an authentic patina. A mixture of heirlooms and everyday practicals used and perfectly aged.
Ranchers tend to never throw anything away that can’t be fixed or repurposed. In addition to the working machinery around the property, we also created a junk pile behind a shed of broken equipment, fencing, etc. that often served in a pinch when we needed to dress an area that was entirely believable.
Abbott ranch house living room… “Reflecting warmth and stability.” Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
The kitchen was the heart of the home, but each room had a history, past and present, from the barrister bookshelf containing the family history of rodeo championship buckles to the kids’ first framed drawings of horses on the living room walls and on to Grandpa’s saddle on a stand in the corner of the dining-room-turned-office piled with bills and cattle ranching magazines. Solid furnishings passed down over the years.
Cecelia’s Office. “Former dining room turned into ranch office. Grandpa’s saddle in corner.” Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios. [Editor’s note: See SHOW MORE PHOTOS below for wider view of her office. Amazingly realistic.]
For this show, what set the direction for the look and feel was basing off my own personal experiences with ranching, in addition to detailed research about things I didn’t know. I love to add subtle dressing into a set that only the people who live in that world would know and recognize. For example, we dressed in certain feed supplements in the barn that keep cattle cool in the summer and keep flies at bay, but no one would know that except someone who uses it.
Abbott Barn Tack Room. Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
Ranch workshop. Inset: “Morning chores at Abbott family cattle ranch in Wyoming.” Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
I know some old-school ranchers who carry small well-worn notebooks in shirt pockets to jot down which cattle are in need of attention. Every night, that beat-up little notebook was on Royal’s nightstand, next to the tube of muscle pain medication.
[For this and more of the Abbot ranch house, see SHOW MORE PHOTOS below]
Tillerson Ranch Entrance Gate... “Over 700 Elk antler sheds shipped in from all over the country. We built from scratch.” Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
We had fun with the wealthy neighbor ranching family who have a much larger operation. The large ranch interiors...void of any female influence due to a divorce...although still well-appointed, were overrun with feral masculinity by the adult sons.
Luke Tillerson [Shaun Sipos], ruthless heir-apparent of the powerful and power-hungry Tillerson family. Photo by Richard Foreman/Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
Crossbow and roping practice, mini dirt bikes, drones, video games, etc. Their crazy father’s bedroom was a huge space decorated with large taxidermy and oversized masculine elegance.
Wayne’s bedroom... “Patriarch of the Tillerson family. We wanted it to portray power and control.” And a bit of a wild streak... Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
Wayne’s bedroom... Definitely a bit of a wild streak...Courtesy of Prime Video ©Amazon Studios.
Editor's note: For more photos of the Tillerson wildness, the Abbott's earthiness, local bars, and other great sets, click on SHOW MORE PHOTOS below.
It was a wonderfully constant collaboration with the writers, show runners, production designer and DP. We really wanted to show an honest portrayal of the hardworking Abbott family and their beliefs, and then the extreme with their land-grabbing neighbors.
For me the biggest compliments came from the real working cowboys and ranchers in the area who said we were ‘dead on’ with the look. They told me ranching is not about the money, it’s about the next generation...and we tried our best to portray that.