The SDSA Story

October 22nd, 2020

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L to R: Libby Woolems, JoAnn Vara, Mimi Clarke, Kimberly Buckley, and Michelle Bufano of the SDSA

The Set Decorators Society of America, an international nonprofit professional association, has promoted excellence and preserved the legacy of the art of set decoration in motion pictures and television since its founding in 1993.

We are dedicated to the preservation of the past, the celebration of current achievement, and ensuring a successful future for those entering our profession.

The mission of the Set Decorators Society of America is to promote the highest standards of excellence in the field worldwide, and to entertain, inspire, teach and preserve the legacy of set decoration in motion pictures and television.

Set Decorators are key department heads and members of the design team for film, television and commercials. They collaborate closely with the Production Designer, Director, Producers, and fellow HODs such as Cinematographers and Costume Designers regarding the design, color, lighting, and practical considerations for each set on the project.

Set Decorators and their teams research, pitch, source, design, build, and acquire a vast array of objects required to dress the sets. With the Set Decoration crew that they hire, they make sure each set, whether on location or stage, interior or exterior, fantasy or reality-based, is dressed according to the parameters of each project.

A comprehensive description of the Set Decorators responsibilities, and their essential crew. members can be found here: The Set Decoration Department 

The Set Decorators Society of America members include qualified Set Decorators of Motion Pictures and Television, Commercials and music films from around the world. Business Members provide furnishings, materials, and professional services to our trade. Associate Members are set dressing department crew members and those building experience toward a career as a Set Decorator. Student Members find rich educational and networking opportunities. Friends of the SDSA are by invitation, supporters and allies of the Society. 
For membership information click here: JOIN THE SDSA

Fellowship and networking opportunities are offered to Set Decorators, crew and vendors within our craft, through virtual and in-person meetings and seminars. Bridges are built to other creative professions in the entertainment industry, including the wider Art Department- Production Designers, Art Directors, Propmasters, Location Managers, and other allied professions. Our many activities preserve the past, provide businesses with strategies for success, and pave the way for an ever more professional group of Set Decorators in the future.

The SDSA presents competitive awards for both Film and Television annually. In 1994 the Awards Committee, chaired by legendary Set Decorator Marvin March, described a plan to “recognize and honor the yearly work done in our craft.” Thanks to the leadership of President Gino Serdena, these Awards have become a huge success, beginning in 2021.

Through our Honors program, we bestow Lifetime Achievement and Service Awards, notably the Hall of Fame Award for distinguished service to the SDSA.

2023 MaryAnn Biddle • 2019 Laura Richarz • 2018 Marc E. Meyer • 2017 Cheryal Kearney • 2017 Anne D. McCulley • 2015 Audrey Blasdel-Goddard • 2014 Donald Elmblad • 2013 Jim Erickson • 2012 John Dwyer • 2011 Rusty Lipscomb • 2010 Jeannie Laughlin Gunn • 2009 Robinson Royce

For in-depth biographies of each recipient, please click: SDSA HONORS

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SDSA Hall of Fame Award recipients

CHASE HELZER Associate • DAZIAN CREATIVE FABRIC ENVIRONMENTS • JIM WAGNER Charles & Charles • CHARLES HACKETT Charles & Charles • RONNIE WEXLER Warner Bros Property • FRANK SIMPSON Sony Pictures Property • JOHN RETTINO Warner Bros Property • LINDA MONTANA Independent Studio Services • REGINA O’BRIEN set Decorator • BETH WOOKE Set Decorator • SHIRLEY STARKS Set Decorator • LESLIE FRANKENHEIMER Set Decorator • RON FRANCO Set Decorator • KEN HABER Ken Haber Photography • ADRIANNA CRUZ- Ocampo U-Frame It Gallery • GENE CANE 1st Executive Director • MARYANN BIDDLE Set Decorator • DAVID SMITH Set Decorator • LESLIE ROLLINS Set Decorator • DARYN-REID GOODALL Set Decorator • UDI NEDEVI Landlord • KAREN BURG Editor SETDECOR Magazine • ERROL MURAD American Foliage & Design Group • GUS TSAMAS American Foliage & Design Grou • SCOTT LIROFF City Knickerbocker, Inc. • JAN PASCALE Set Decorator SETDECOR Magazine • ROSEMARY BRANDENBURG Set Decorator SETDECOR Magazine • MICHELE HARDING HOLLIE Set Decorator • BOB YONCHAK administrator • DAN SCHULTZ Business Member Vice President,  Lennie Marvin’s Prop Heaven • DANNY AND BAMBI BREMGARTNER Aah- Inspiring Balloons • CORRI LEVELLE Business Member Liaison Sandy Rose Floral, Inc. • HARVEY SCHWARTZ 20th Century Props • EDWARD STEPHENSON Hollywood Studio Gallery • RICHARD SLAVIN Aaronson Prop Center • ROBINSON ROYCE Set Decorator • MERRY NORRIS Honorary Member • BRUCE NEWMAN Newel Art Galleries • BRENDA MEYERS-BALLARD Set Decorator • LENNIE MARVIN Lennie Marvin Enterprises • MANUEL LOUIS Louis Equipment Company • BETH KUSHNICK Set Decorator • JAY KRAUSE Omega Cinema Props • DYANN KLEIN Props for Today • DEBBIE HEMELA Debbie’s Book • BEVERLY HADLEY Universal Property • JEANNIE GUNN, Set Decorator • GEORGE DETITTA, Set Decorator • WILL CARTER, RC Vintage, Inc. • DOMINIC BRUNO Warner Bros Property  • AUDREY BLASDEL-GODDARD Set Decorator • GREGG BILSON SR. Independent Studio Services • SURI BIELER Eclectic Encore Properties  • JAN BERGSTROM Set Decorator  • NORM BALOS House of Props

The Set Decorators Guild of America was founded in 1993 to foster communication among groups in our community. The early 1990’s was a period when friction had emerged between established Set Decorators and a new group who were joining the Industry through commercials and indie films and TV shows. Led by Robert L. Zilliox, a group of Hollywood Set Decorators set out to join these factions together, in the spirit of finding common interests, promoting the Set Decoration art form to our own industry and to the world at large. They were joined by Business Member allies, who shared the interest of promoting the craft. During the first year, the name was changed to the SET DECORATORS SOCIETY: the word GUILD was deemed by IATSE Local 44's leadership as competitive with the goals of the labor union. Since then, the SDSA’s relationship to IATSE locals that represent Set Decorators around the US and Canada is cordial and collaborative, and we are mutually supportive,

A Preamble was composed to make clear the goals of the SDSA and to set out a road map for future activities of the group. A spirit of collegiality, and the highest standards of communication, have remained the baseline for all the activities of the organization for over 30 years.

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The SDSA Preamble, 1993

We the Set Decorators of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44, Hollywood California, do hereby establish this guild as a non-profit business and social organization in order:
• To form a strong and cohesive association that demonstrates our contribution to the film Industry and enhances the standards of our profession.
• To establish a close relationship with all other Set Decorators worldwide, in order to promote friendship, communication, and knowledge of our mutual accomplishments in this Industry.
• To promote Industry-wide recognition of the importance of qualified Set Decorators.
• To present “Visual Arts” Awards for outstanding achievements in the creative art field to those individuals who, in their collaborative efforts, have achieved design excellence during the course of the year’s production.
• To promote the creative process of skilled set decorating through related seminars and other specialized activities.
• To always maintain an interface between the members of the Set Decorators Guild of America so that we can turn to each other for support, guidance, and mutual concern for our particular place in the Art category of the Film and Television Industry.
• To organize an apprenticeship program, within the profession, to encourage and guide future Set Decorators towards a higher level of performing.
• We establish this Guild to attain the highest standards of professionalism in Set Decorating.

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The founding SDSA members in 1993.

Ed Baer • Rosemary Brandenburg • Kathy Curtis Cahill • John Dwyer • K.C. Fox • Rusty Lipscomb • Marvin March • Brenda Meyers-Ballard • Jan Pascale • Stephen Potter • Cloudia Rebar • Bill Reinert • Robinson Royce • Sarah Stone • Robert L. Zilliox
Green Set Inc • Hollywood Central • Hollywood Cinema Arts •Kel-Light House of Neon • Lennie Marvin Enterprises • Ob•Jects • Sandy Rose Floral Design • Universal Studios • R.C. Vintage

Since1993, the SDSA has grown steadily, adding many members on the West Coast and Canada, branches in New York and  Atlanta, set decorators in the United Kingdom and Europe, Australasia, Mexico, and around the world. Business Membership has grown apace with Set Decorator and Associate numbers, along with Students and Friends of the SDSA.

SETDECOR is the heart and soul of the SDSA, we hope you will enjoy a tour through the Archives, CLICK HERE for SETDECOR Magazine Archives

A 501 C (6) Not for Profit Corporation
To support these ventures, the SDSA relies on membership dues, corporate sponsors, generous contributions from our Business Members, advertising on our website, social media, and eblast outlets, activity fees, and grants for small business development and educational support.

The SDSA is separate and apart from any labor union and the organization does not represent Set Decorators in negotiations regarding wages or working conditions, leaving this important function to our local unions, including IATSE Local 44 in Los Angeles, Local 52 in New York, and Local 479 in Atlanta.