Alan Ball Shares Details of Set Design on True Blood

June 9, 2010 by  

As fans of True Blood, we get so immersed that we may forget that, just like in other television shows, they have to create sets and fill them with props. Executive producer Alan Ball took a break from a busy day of writing, editing, and filming to show New York Magazine around places on set.

According to Alan, if he weren’t a writer, he would want to be in the art department. He works closely with production designer Suzuki Ingerslev to give True Blood a real sense of down-home, Southern decor. She researches and finds fabulous pieces that Alan says will usually fit in somewhere.

The Stackhouse home is meant to feel like it’s been lived in for 150 years, so the cabinets are a bit crooked and the floor tiles worn and dirty. Bill Compton’s house is uncluttered, but it seems musty and old like he hasn’t fixed it up since he moved in.

Merlotte’s reflects your typical Southern dive bar, complete with animal parts mounted on the walls. The kitchen in the back is fully functioning so that it can be incorporated into action. Alan remarks that the Merlotte’s interior was set up to allow a Steadicam to follow the actors through their scenes.

Fangtasia, where Alan says “we’ve been filming a lot this season, has the cold, creepy basement and the red and black vampire hangout upstairs. On the wall hangs a portrait of a vampire, which is actually a depiction of producer Gregg Fienberg.

Sookie’s room, at the time of this visit, had clothes and blood scattered across the floor. Alan would only make a cryptic comment about the meaning of this for Season 3:

“We’re putting people in more situations where they have to fight for what they want or for survival.”

It’s easy to forget how much thought must go into this stage of putting the show together, but Alan says it’s crucial–he’s got a great cast, and they need a real atmosphere to develop their characters. They’ve got to have “stuff to play with, not just like, ‘Go get ’em!’ … ‘Watch out!’ … ‘Incoming!’ ”

Nevertheless, as fun as True Blood is to make, especially after a dark, thoughtful series like Six Feet Under, Alan reminds himself that it’s only a TV show:

“It feels like I’m closer to the ideal of relative sanity, rather than a person who’s consumed by what is ultimately not real.”

That doesn’t mean that he’s not going to try to make their pretend feel as real as possible, and a large part of that is due to the amazingly intricate sets.


(Photo credit: Jaimie Trueblood/HBO)