There are many talented actors in the world today, but most of them cannot carry a story or create a believable world on their own. There are a variety of things that help film producers and directors create a believable world around the actor. There are sets, some inside real Bolton houses and others created on a sound stage. There also are costumes and props and set dressing. You may think it's easy to make a set look real, but this article will show you just how involved a process it really is.
You may think it's easy to dress a room so that it looks like the type of room its supposed to be. For a kitchen, you would use a table and chairs, an oven, a stove, a microwave, a toaster, and a sink. But if these essential kitchen components were all you used, your set would look empty and unused, like an unoccupied room in a Niagara Falls hotel waiting for guests. If you want your viewers to believe that someone actually lives in or uses this room, you have to go beyond the basics.
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Look around the room you're sitting in right now. What do you see? Supposing it's an office, you'll see a desk, a chair, maybe a bookshelf, your computer, and a picture on the wall. Is that all? No. You have books on the bookshelf, papers on your desk. There are trinkets made for you by your children on a shelf and a bag of aquarium gravel on the floor where you left it when you were bringing in the groceries that morning. There's a post-it note on the wall reminding you to bill a client and a cup full of pens next to the computer. These are the details of a lived in room.
If a film director wants his or her audience to believe people actually use the room, he or she needs to hire someone to make it look lived in by incorporating these small, crucial elements into the decoration. These people are called set dressers. Set dressers don't merely make rooms look lived in. They must make the rooms look lived in by a particular character. Therefore they must study the script and figure out what these characters would fill their London real estate with and then go out and find these items.
Many set dressers have large stores of their own items that they use as set decoration. They are always scouring flea markets, garage sales, and second hand shops for new and special items that might pertain to a specific field or personality. A set of old cookbooks, for example, might be used in the kitchen of a character who works for Toronto Catering, while a stick drawing on the fridge would be used to indicate that the character has a child.
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