A WORLD FOR THE CAMERA
|Soap Opera Magazine, April 28, 1992
SB's veteran Art Director Richard Harvey reveals the fascinating
behind-the-scenes process that goes into creating the show's stunning sets.
Q: How do you go about creating a set?
A: It begins with meetings between George Beckett, SB's production
designer, and the executive producer, Paul Rauch, about the set's concept.
Once they agree what they want to do, George's design – a blend of art
and architecture – is then integrated into the storyline.
Q: What's next?
A: The set has to be constructed. All the elements it takes to
complete a set – from the props to the furniture – must be purchased,
rented or manufactured either in-house or outside.
Q: How many people are involved in creating all those sets?
A: Teams of assistant art directors, carpenters, electricians,
painters, lighting technicians, drapery experts, special effects experts,
etc. While it's hard to put numbers on all the individuals involved,
there's a long list of talented technicians and artists who are involved
in putting it all together.
Q: What makes daytime so different from television or feature films?
A: Daytime TV is so fast, you don't have the luxury of time. We run a
24-hour operation. After each day's work, the night crew tears down and
assembles all the sets we'll need for the next day. By 9:30 each morning,
the sets must be decorated completely – right down to the toothpicks.
Q: With such hair-raising deadlines, have you ever had any close
A: Sure. There are those moments when you don't think you're going to
make it, but it always seems to come together. While recently remodeling
the Oasis Hotel and Restaurant, we were having 36 chairs custom-made by a
furniture finisher. With four days left before taping, I inspected the
chairs. I couldn't believe it; the finishes were totally wrong. When I
came back the next day, they were still unusable. I found another
refinisher who was able to get it done right – with no time to spare.
Q: How many sets does SB have?
A: Over 600. Many of these are temporary, or what we call
"swing" sets. They'll only be used a few times, or even just
once, if that's all the script calls for. But we have about 75 permanent
sets, including the many rooms in the Capwell mansion, the Capwell yacht
and corporate offices, the Oasis Hotel and Restaurant, the Lockridge
estate, Cruz' residence and the newspaper office. These are the sets the
audience sees most often.
Q: What was involved in remodeling the Capwell mansion?
A: It was a massive effort. The entire structure was changed because
the executive producer wanted to enlarge and lighten the look of the
mansion. The furniture was all costum-designed, the wood frames and fabric
were selected for proper coloration and texture as were the draperies and
carpets. Every accessory from the chandeliers to the candelabras were all
Q: Any specific anecdotes about the remodeling project?
A: Even with budget constraints, we take great pains to make sure our
standards are the highest. The chairs in the dining room were imported
specially from Spain because they worked so well with the costum-made
table. The beautiful Steinway grand piano in the Capwell living room used
to be an old beat-up, pitted NBC rehearsal piano. But we saved a fortune
refinishing it and the transformation was amazing.
Q: Are SB's sets designed with the show's characters in mind?
A: Absolutely. In the developmental process, the storylines and
qualities of the character are central. When we redesigned the Capwell
mansion, we wanted to create an elaborate home, fitting for the richest
man in Santa Barbara – C.C. Capwell. We wanted this set to make a
statement about him.
Q: Have you ever modified a set based on a character?
A: The original wine cellar in C.C.'s home was completely redesigned.
It wasn't appropriate for his character. The cellar was small and musty.
It is now much more elaborate and spacious. Jed Allan was helpful in
offering his own thoughts in the redesign – he believed the original
cellar didn't behoove the stature of C.C.
Q: What new sets have been designed for all the new characters?
A: So far, we've designed a university classroom and Lilly's dormitory
room. We wanted her dorm room to reflect Lilly's character and her past.
Because Gina gave Lilly up as a child and she had to fend for herself, her
dorm furnishings are an eclectic collection of things she's just picked up
along the way. The furniture – a chair and desk – are multicolored
with dripped paint and there are some bizarre posters, including one of a
car plunging into a swimming pool.
Q: What are some of the newer sets you've been involved with
A: We recently completed Mason and Julia's new home, which was a
wedding present to Julia. The elaborate new mansion is in contrast to
Julia's old home and clearly reflects Mason's character and the manner in
which he grew up. Julia and Mason are newlyweds, so we kept their bed the
same size as we found it – a relatively small double bed. We explored
the possibility of obtaining a king-sized bed, but decided against it as
this makes a statement about the status of their relationship. Other new
sets include: the high school reunion set, which viewers recently saw, and
Minx's bedroom which is just beautiful.