Jamie's personal Blog - ‘Set Design’ Category
There are sure to be some of you out there who are considering becoming the next Steven Spielberg! Like me – Jamie Squillare, when that thought entered my head, you’re probably going to need a bit of helpful advice. I spent many a long hour trawling the internet for tips and hints on getting started and I thought it would be a good idea to share what I found. Also I have bit of knowledge from set. You can check my professional experience in IMDb. But let me share what I find useful:
- Ask around to see if anyone you know has some equipment you can borrow or look into hiring. Before you go to the expense of buying your film making equipment save yourself some money by giving it a go and spending as little as possible. All you really need is some sort of camera. You could even use a smartphone.
- Don’t be over ambitious. Try shooting something simple first. Aim for maybe a ten minute film rather than stretching yourself with half an hour or more. Even the best movie directors probably started out with short and punchy films.
- It’s all about the location. Draw up a list of possible locations and base your script around them. Even the most mundane location can be made to look interesting when the script is right.
- Work within your limitations. List the resources you have available and write a story to fit in around them.
- Watch your favourite movies closely scene by scene. Examine some of your favourite scenes in close detail. Look at what the characters are doing and the camera angles.
- You’ll need some help. It’s easy to find fellow film makers to help with the shoot. A producer, a director, a cinematographer, a sound recorder and an editor are the roles that need to be filled. It will be possible to double up on some of these roles.
- Test screen your first cut. This is an important way of finding out if you are on the right track and you will attract an audience.
These are just some basic things to think about before you get going. Film making requires time, investment, a compelling script as well as believable actors and actresses. You will also need set dresser like Jamie Squillare. Don’t get put off at the first hurdle and keep trying out different ways of working. Whether you’re looking to embrace a new hobby or make it your career, film making should be fun and enjoyable, however big your budget. Take a look on YouTube there are countless people taking the plunge every day and the results can be amazing.
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After I – Jamie Squillare wrote about how to become a set designer, now I’d like to tell you more about actress. I have no experience but I have the chance to work with many amazing and aspiring actresses.
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If you dream of becoming an actress, performing on stage in a drama or a musical, you need to discover which path to take. Take a look at the hints and tips below to easily determine if this is the career for you:
Acting classes are an ideal place to start as here you can work with other actors as well as taking direction from the team. You can learn essential skills for acting alongside training for quick responses and cue attention. You’ll also be taught the differences between stage and film acting and be able to take part in scenes on stage. Class discussions will give you the additional confidence you need to face your critics!
Once you’ve decided which type of acting you’d like to pursue, it’s a good idea to research and study actresses that you can identify with. Visit your local theatre to take in the plays and make an effort to watch people going about their daily lives to get a feeling for emotional and facial expressions to help you develop your character. See if you can add depth by learning another language or by playing a musical instrument. Read as much as you can in every genre to expend your knowledge and understanding.
When you start auditioning you may find this quite stressful. Look for original monologues to excite the director! You’ll need to get a professional photographer to take head shots of you, then make electronic copies in case you need to email them to agencies. Make everything look professional for the best impression. Get footage of your acting work and make sure it gets to the casting director. Finally get a licenced and franchised agent by searching online for casting workshops in your area. This will give you the opportunity to meet a number of agents and directors at the same time.
The Actors Equity Card will ensure that your work is not misused and also provides you with health insurance. Equity actors will have access to a greater number of auditions and will get to participate in workshops and seminars ongoing, so it’s of great benefit for you to join the union.
As you gain experience you’ll find yourself working closely with the director and the scene designers who’ll discuss with you the stage set design. It’s vital that they have your input as they need to be assured that each scene depicts the true feeling of the story. Be aware of all the props on the stage to ensure that nothing is out of line. Make sure that the clocks on the wall say the same time as the clock on the mantelpiece and the alarm clock! Simple errors can completely destroy the realism of the production.
As you find your niche in the acting world you’ll need to be persistent to make your living as an actress!
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If you’re creative and imaginative you could be ideally suited to working in stage set design. As one of LA set dressers I – Jamie Squillare would like to share my opinion about designing so you could easily decide is it your profession. If you’d like to work in film, TV or theater this may be the perfect job for you. This guide will help you determine if you’ve got all the attributes you need to become a successful production or stage designer: You don’t actually need any qualifications to enter this line of work but it will help to have a university degree in an art-based subject. You’ll need artistic flair as well as practical drawing and model making skills. Being able to research, show great attention to detail alongside problem solving skills and having better than basic IT knowledge will all be invaluable. Presentation and communication skills are also essential as you’ll be expected to work within a team as well as within budget! You’ll also need to be able to work under pressure as deadlines must always be met.
If you need more information Behind the Curtains at the Theater just ask me – Jamie Squillare
The work as a stage set designer starts at the beginning of the production planning process until the opening night and includes sketching design ideas to show what the sets will look like for each individual scene. Taking into account the available budget you’ll work with the director and the production team to study the script and discuss ideas. You’ll have to research the details for the production and ensure the costume and make-up are appropriate. Any overseeing of set building and decoration will be your responsibility too. You’ll spend much of your time in theater workshops and depending on the production you may be required to travel. This career path normally starts with you becoming an assistant for a designer or as a trainee in the art department. As your experience grows you can work up to the position of stage set designer. Practical experience is essential to build your portfolio which shows your design work to potential employers. If you get involved with locally based community theaters and student theatres for example, this will all add to your credibility. Your portfolio should be continually updated as you develop your craft. There are many stage set designer courses that you could enrol on to help you on your chosen career path. Many designers are self-employed and work on a freelance basis. You may become involved in exhibitions and corporate events or go into film after starting in the theatre, and there may be opportunities with television commercials or music videos.
Once you’ve had a few years’ experience the choice is yours! I made my!
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So we have the movies, television and of course the internet complete with live streaming. There are festivals, concerts and the list goes on, sometimes it seems like all the world really is a stage, but for all that I still don’t think that there’s any entertainment that beats a night at the theater.
Why? It’s hard to quantify but part of it is the intimacy. Films are made for an audience of millions, television for anything from hundreds of thousands upwards but even the biggest theater can only seat a few thousand and around the country there are multitudes of tiny venues; school halls, church halls and community centers. The performance is live, put on just for you the audience of the night, and even if you go to see the same play three times, every one will be in some way a unique experience.
Even the smallest and most humble of performances carries something of a sense of occasion. And so it should. It’s not just the actors on the stage that make the event happen. There’s a whole team working behind the scenes to get a production live. They’re responsible for the costume, the stage set design, props, special effects and maybe music too. Let’s not forget the prompt, sat in the wings ready to cue some poor frozen actor who’s momentarily forgotten his lines. There’s make-up to consider and don’t forget the sound production and lights.
There’s so much that goes into making a play happen, so many people who invest part of themselves into those few transient hours that it’s really no surprise that there’s an energy in live theater that you’ll never find at even the biggest Oscar winning film.
When you go to the theater, you’re part of the performance too. Any actor will tell you that on a good night the interaction between audience and performers makes the evening flow. Another time the audience is cold, unreceptive and try as they might, the folks up on the stage just can’t bring them to life.
So, next time you’re planning an evening, consider something you might not have done for a while. Forget the blockbuster, and please don’t let inertia keep you in your chair while you tell yourself that when you can see the best in the world from the comfort of your own home there’s no point in leaving your home.
Go to the theater. Hit Broadway or support a local amateur production. Who knows, that rather captivating young actor you see might one day be one of the leading lights of this fascinating world. You might admire a clever set, put together on a minimal budget and be seeing the early work of someone who will one day be behind the scene star of set design.
Dress up, make it an occasion, clap loudly, laugh at the jokes and maintain a respectful silence for the moments of high drama. However good or bad the production turns out to be it will be unique, you’ll have been there and you’ll be helping to keep arts alive.
So you’ve been volunteered to help with the annual school play and you’re role is that of stage designer. After reading this article and with a little help from me – Jamie Squillare and your fellow parents you’ll confidentially be able to create a stage set design that will be forever memorable!
As a set designer you’ll actually be responsible for getting the right mood for the performance, so you’ll need to set the scenes with the play in mind. You need to have an understanding of the script so that you can select the best stage design possible and organise any special effects. It’s a good idea to meet with all the other volunteers and assign tasks to share the workload in order to avoid getting too stressed! Remember that you’ll need help with lifting, unloading and assembling as well.
The key factors to getting your stage design just so are the dimensions of the stage itself, the lighting, movement and the reality of the play. Take each factor individually and make rough drawings so in your mind you know what you’re trying to achieve. For example a simply constructed archway can add dimension and the illusion of doors down a hallway, and false walls at a certain angle makes the stage feel bigger. Try not to get too creative as this will detract from your purpose.
Accent lighting adds depth and life to the stage. Use pendant lights, cabinet lighting and subtle dimmed lighting to create different moods during the play. Remember that different lighting will affect the colors on the set as blues tend to look almost black and reds go very pale. Rehearse lighting techniques to make sure it all goes well on the night.
Movement on the stage is easily created by the addition of blinds at an open window for instance, or the dimming of bright lights! Doors can be fitted and opened and closed to add a real life production quality. Set elements can easily be made out of painted card and are easy to move between stage changes.
As s top advice from me – Jamie Squillare I would share:
Save time by changing elements around rather than having to keep moving them off the stage.
Make the scenes authentic by researching the play and using the appropriate props. Take a simple example such as the nativity and you’d automatically know what extras you’d need to set the scene! Do this for each scene of your play and use the school resources department to help you with all the materials you need to create the perfect settings. Make all your props directly relevant to the play and discuss how they’ll be used in case they need to be very robust.
Preparation and planning will be essential to be ready on the night. Establish a schedule with deadlines for everything and stick to it. You don’t need to be an expert but with the right research and a lot of hard work you’ll know that you did everything you could to make your stage set design the best it could possibly be with the resources and the time you had.
Are you planning to spend some time in London this summer? Are you looking for an enjoyable way to spend an evening? Would you like to experience the atmosphere of one of the latest West End shows? I can give some ideas.
Here are some suggestions by Jamie Squillare:
- BILLY ELLIOTT: THE MUSICAL at the Victoria Palace Theater. This story is set during the miners strike and tells of a young boy, whose mother has recently passed away, who seeks solace in ballet rather than boxing classes with his mates. Music is by Elton John and it is written by John Hall. An excellent version of the classic 2000 movie.
- THE BOOK OF MORMON at the Prince of Wales Theater. This is an unrelenting production that has successfully made its way across the Atlantic from New York. It is created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who some of you may recognise as the creators of South Park. It has achieved a bit of a reputation for being outlandishly offensive.
- MATILDA: THE MUSICAL at the Cambridge Theater. Adapted by Dennis Kelly from the well known Roald Dahl novel and with a musical score written by the comedian Tim Minchon this production has gained the title of “the Best New Musical Since Billy Elliott”.
- THE PAJAMA GAME at the Shaftesbury Theater. This is a Richard Ayres production that comes close to his famous production Guys and Dolls.
- THE COMMITMENTS at the Palace Theater. Soul classics from an Irish group that considers themselves and other Irish musicians to be the “niggers of Europe”. Songs from Tamla Motown and Stax will excite your eardrums and get your feet tapping.
- I CAN’T SING at the London Palladium. This musical has been written by Harry Hill and for most will be very funny. It is unconventional and at times a little rude regarding television personality Simon Cowell.
- JERSEY BOYS at the Prince Edward Theater. This is the story of a group from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey, whose influences are hits from Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons.
- THE LION KING at the Lyceum Theater. Amazing stage set design and cast of 48 talented performers brings this famous Disney movie to life. So far it has been seen by more than 8 million people and grossed nearly 300 million.
- MAMMA MIA at the Novello Theater. If you remember ABBA and loved their lively tunes this is definitely a must see.
- THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Her Majesty’s Theater. The second longest musical of all time this Andrew Webber production tells of a disfigured man who resides under the Paris Opera House falling in love with his beautiful protegee.
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