The Inside Scoop on How Movie Sets are Transformed with Signs and Visual Solutions - FASTSIGNS
Set decoration is one of the most underappreciated arts in the film industry. It takes a wide range of skills from creative vision, research, technical shooting knowledge and interior design to create the sometimes hundreds of sets in a film. Whether it’s as realistic as a contemporary bedroom or as farfetched as a mermaid’s underwater castle, it’s the set designer’s job to create the space where characters come to life. Visual communications play a huge role in transforming existing locations into film sets.
Identifying signs help establish physical location without taking away from the action and story. They also can help in transitioning a generic “city block” set to any place in the world. The same nondescript buildings can be a Japanese neighborhood, a Main Street in the Deep South or a Brazilian barrio just by placing different signs on the stores. Business signs can also help existing locations fit more seamlessly into a film. For example, most of the film The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds was set in rural Alaska but shot in Cape May, Massachusetts. Production designers and set decorators used business signs and vinyl vehicle graphics to make an existing dock fit with the narrative:
Large-scale wall graphics can also help a set decorator work in a challenging location. Many scenes in the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall were filmed in a Hawaiian resort while it was servicing other guests. The actual lobby needed to stay operational while the crew filmed scenes in the lobby so set decorator K.C. Fox and production designer Jack De Govia designed and created graphic cut-out screens with a classic Hawaiian motif. These screens allowed the crew to create a “lobby” closer to the magnificent ocean views and not disrupt the resort operations.
Film settings have to convey a character’s location, personality, experiences and present emotional state in just a few seconds of screen time. The mark of excellent set decoration is presenting a large amount of information so seamlessly that the audience doesn’t consciously register it, but they absorb the information. Visual communications help these professionals create the movie magic that transports viewers into a different world.
Top image: Photo Credit: GoodMorningGloucester
Bottom image: Photo Credit: IMDB