Set Dresser

Let's go back a minute. We said a prop was everything the actor touched. But what about the stuff in the background, the stuff hanging on the walls or sitting on the kitchen counter? Where did that stuff come from, and who is responsible for putting it there? You guessed it: the set dresser. The dresser is who gets to "dress" the set, making the child's room look lived in or the doctor's waiting room look real (leaving the out-of-date magazines lying about).

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Just throw some clothes around, tack up a poster of David Cassidy, and poof!—a teenage girl's bedroom from the early 1970s.

If it were that easy, Jennifer D'Angelo wouldn't find her job as challenging as she does. "I've really got to know my history," she says. For instance, in the bedroom scene of our example, the David Cassidy poster helps define the time, but Jennifer couldn't leave the sound track album from the film Saturday Night Fever lying against the record player because the film had not yet been released in the time period this shot took place. Her knowledge is not limited only to things. Decorations are also defined by social status. Take the same teenage girl, same early 1970s time period, but this time show a neat, orderly room with a coming-out dress draped carefully across the four-poster bed; on the walls, framed reproductions of classical paintings; sitting on the bookshelf, a dog-eared copy of Love Story. This is the room of a far more affluent individual than the David Cassidy fan.

On a large-scale production, when there is more than one set being constructed at a time, all of them will need to be dressed before they can be shot. Actually, on almost any film, there will be at least one set waiting in the wings while shooting is going on elsewhere. This way, the director doesn't have to waste time waiting for the set to get ready. Each of these sets needs to be dressed. The person coordinating all of the set dressing is the head set dresser, traditionally called the lead man (though it can be a woman). The head set dresser, as supervisor of the group, works directly under the set decorator.

0 0

Post a comment