Talkin’ True Blood with Rusty Lipscomb: Time Bomb

August 20, 2009 by  

True Blood Time Bomb Stephen Moyer as Vampire Bill Compton and Anna Paquin as Sookie StackhouseWhat’s up with Luke?  Suicide bomber?  I must admit I did not see that coming!  I thought he was too self involved…. but he turned out to be a true believer, unfortunately being manipulated by the egocentric, charismatic, vampire hating, Rev. Steve. What a shame to destroy Godric’s beautiful home!  An explosion like this necessitates the set to be built on stage and what a great look the art department and construction achieved.  As for the set decoration, every piece of furniture, accessory, art, lighting, and rugs, needed to be purchased!  I really hurts! to know that an interior so well put together will end up a mess of char, soot, and debris.

Each piece of furniture, purchased new for Godric’s home, each contemporary painting custom made, all the cool accessories selected, were destroyed or ended up in a debris pile.  Did you notice the dining room chandelier, the great sparking, twisting, glass, sea urchin design that glowed and sparkled was dripping vampire remains? Yuk! ….and what a shame to see it go!

To make it even more painful, the set dressing department and the construction crew usually work along side the special effects crew to achieve the after-the-bomb mess.  Ouch! debris on the couches, gunk on the rugs, but it is actually more cost effective to destroy what is purchased than to manufacture it for that purpose in this case.  Godric’s living room was in multiple episodes and that is the reason why.

One question remains in my mind….how did Isabel manage to stay completely perfect after the explosion????? Where was she? [Editor’s Note: I think, like my mother, she had so much hair spray on that ‘do that it was impervious and perhaps protective!] And evil Eric getting his way with Sookie sucking his blood….but for us it was a good thing.  If she had not, we would not have seem him naked in bed with her and I know that we have been waiting much too long for that!….the Eric part!

Maryann is still vibrating, Lorena is on a mission, Hoyt and Jessica are still cute, Maxine is a bad mom, Lettie Mae is a good mom, Sookie and Jason renewed their familial bond, Eric is sad, we said good-bye to Godric and I remain a fan!”

We loved her insider view so much that we had to ask her a few follow up questions! Do you usually know if a place is to be destroyed when you create the setting?

Rusty: Yes. That is a very important factor in both the building of the set and the decorating even more so.  We do a lot of rentals for TV, it helps with the usually tight budgets.  You really can’t destroy rentals and it would be near impossible to match the rentals when it is time to destroy the set. If you know, do you tend to buy cheaper?

Rusty: Of course you would do that… if it was possible.  The camera does not see subtle differences between the $$$$$ fabric and the $$ affordable one.  It is all about style, about putting things together, about good design and color.  I had the pleasure to spend many years working series TV, whether multi camera sitcoms or single camera series.  There is never enough money to be able to buy everything that is your first choice.  Set decorators, as was my craft, have to learn where to shop for things that look really good because of their style potential.  We make a career of shopping on a budget, learning where cool accessories can be found…..the pillows, drapery, lighting, plants, make a hugh difference. It is important to put your money where it will show. Things that are a bit shabbier?

Rusty: It is possible to buy mark-downs because of a scratch or ding but you need time to do this.  Suzuki Ingerslev, production designer and my long time collaborator, designed a brilliant set for SHARK, a series we did together in 2006.  She asked for an upscale stainless refrigerator to be built into the kitchen.  All I could see were $$$$$! She sent me to an appliance store in Northridge that sold new appliances that had dings or dents. I found one that was damaged, but not on the front which is all that we saw and was 1/2 price. Film is the perfect venue for things that are not perfect.  We can repair or cover almost anything. Less likely to buy something you absolutely love?

Rusty: I think that this is where you decide to spend your money.  Something that you love and will make a difference is worth the bucks. If you’ve had to destroy a long time set have you ever ‘rescued’ something fundamental to the show or sentimental to an actor or crew member?

Rusty: I would hope so and it is possible that it was done in Godric‘s.  You could either replace the object or make sure that the placement of the object is such that debris could be so heavy it would not be missed.  It is a shame to destroy some special no matter who is attached to it! Has it ever worked the other way around where you decided it was time to redo a set and the writers decided why not blow it up?

Rusty: It has not happened to me, but I know other decorators who have had to redo a main set.  It is not just explosions, it is cheaper to just put a line in the script about redecorating.

Thanks for the great insights Rusty into the behind the scenes workings of True Blood and other TV shows.  No wonder we can so strongly feel the loss of Godric‘s home.. the set dressers and construction crew imbue the scene with their own feelings as they destroy their own creations.  Designing a set to be blown to smithereens would be like building large, complicated sand castles only to watch them be washed away by the tide.

(Photo credit: HBO)