Dating game set design
We don’t have that much time on a television show — we only have eight days per episode.
When you do a feature, you can sit around the table and talk about stuff a little bit longer — but on a television show, to keep it feeling like a cohesive story with a cohesive look, you need everyone to work together. So much of what we do is share research, references and ideas.
This [sequence] was a particularly psychological moment — and the best part of working together is those kinds of moments. Ammon: Together, the locations team and I bring them to the director and the cinematographer.
I’ll pitch an idea like, ‘He comes out this door and then he goes over there.’ Because we’re doing a period show, [we have to consider] how much of the world we can see, and how much — if at all — we can control the road.
They’ll frequently ask me what’s period, what’s not period, and what we need to avoid, because it comes down to [those elements], as well as what the look of our show is, and what we are able to control. At the end of it, Peter and the director decided the best angles.
What can we decorate, or dress with cars — or can we bring in a bus? Then you collaborate from there to make it all work? I remember a sequence on Echo Park Avenue and Sunset. It’s on its last legs of being vintage, but it had that feeling of Sunset in the Seventies. The cinematographer sets the tone and the mood with the choices of lens, lighting and camera movement.
What about your collaboration with costume designer Christie Wittenborn? I would find reference photographs and Christie and Peter would both ‘get it,’ and they would offer feedback.
We’ll have someone walking by with the clipboard.’ And when you work together with a cinematographer, they can say, ‘Okay — you don’t have to complete that edge of it, because I’m going to put a big light here, like a big flare, because this guy has done a lot of drugs and he’s out of his mind.’ And [we discuss] where we want darkness and light.
We often orbit in two different worlds once we are in ‘series mode.’ Those aren’t the shows that I want to work on.
I want to work on shows where we develop a look, and for each episode we all do our unique jobs [and develop] the pathos together.
My responsibility is to pick something to see if, together, we can make that thing work.
Then you work together with the practical elements.