Set Decoration Department

Set Decoration (Set Dec) includes the furnishings, wallpaper, lighting fixtures, and many of the other objects that will be seen in the scene. Props and set dec often overlap, but are provided by different departments. The difference between a set decoration and a prop is use. If the item is not touched by an actor for any reason it is simply a set decoration. Some set dec, such as a chair or table, can be touched by actors but would still be set decoration. Often times discussions take place between set decorator and prop masters in order to check that everything is being covered.

Set Dec Crew:
Mark Prior – Lead Set Dresser
Tracy B. Dunlop – Set Dresser / Lead Set Dresser
Ocea Ringrose – Lead Set Dresser / Set Dresser
Jonathan Lancaster – Assistant Set Decorator
Perry Battista – Assistant Set Decorator
Paul Burton – Set Dresser
Clayton Allen – Set Dresser
Tony Soragnese – Set Dresser
Lisle Fehlauer – Set Dresser
Maurice Woodworth – On-set Dresser / Second Unit Set Dresser
Colin Meacham – On-set Dresser
Scott Holburn – On-set Dresser
Felipe Barragan – Set Decorator Buyer

What does a Set Decorator do?

Set Decorators provide anything that furnishes a film set, excluding structural elements. They may have to provide a range of items, from lumps of sugar and tea spoons, to newspapers, furniture and drapes, to cars, carriages, or even cats and dogs. There are two types of props: action props, or all props that are described in the shooting script; and dressing props, or items that help to bring characters to life or to give a certain atmosphere and sense of period to a place.

Small details often tell the audience the most about characters in feature films: the pictures hanging on the walls of their homes; the contents of their fridge or bathroom cabinet; their books; the treasured objects kept in a box hidden in the desk drawer. All of these details are created by the imagination and creative flair of Set Decorators, who research, prepare and oversee the dressing of every set and adapted location on a feature film. Many Set Decorators work on commercials, where they are known as stylists, as well as on films. They work on a freelance basis with a number of Set Designers who usually specifically request them. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home.

Once Set Decorators have met with the production designer to discuss the agreed aesthetic of the film, they visit numerous prop houses, where they carefully select the bigger props and book them for the shoot. In the art department office, Set Decorators prepare a detailed prop breakdown, marking the script up and listing requirements for action props, animals, vehicles, dressing props and any graphics items (letters, newspapers, posters, books etc). Production buyers and graphic artists also prepare their own lists which are compared to check for any missing items. These lists are combined to make the definitive list from which Set Decorators work. The required items are then located, purchased or hired, and where necessary model-makers are commissioned, arrangements are made for furniture to be reupholstered, etc. When the final schedule is delivered (detailing the precise shooting order of scenes in the film), definitive lists of all props and set decoration are prepared according to daily requirements.

Set Decorators may also work on product placement arrangements, or on acquiring copyright clearances for branded items. Close to the beginning of the shoot, Set Decorators photograph all items, taking careful measurements where necessary, and allocate the appropriate props to each set. The day before shooting begins Set Decorators and their teams arrive in the early hours to begin dressing the set. After the Set Designer has checked over the dressed set and made any last minute changes or additions, and the director and the director of photography have given their final approvals, Set Decorators begin work on the next scene detailed on the schedule. Because locations and prop hire can be very expensive, striking (dismantling) each set and returning all the props must be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

† Job description sources include (but are not limited to), and wikipedia., 20 May 2012.