Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cinematic Inspiration

If you weren't doing what you are doing, what would you be doing instead? I'll answer first. I think I would be in show business. But not in front of the camera, instead behind it, fluffing the pillows, tracking down the perfect period sofa or scouring thrift stores for retro fixtures... I think dressing the sets of make-believe worlds would be so much fun. The ultimate doll house experience. So to that end, whenever I watch movies I tend to keep one eye on the set, and one eye on the acting. And I love it when I am pleasantly surprised and inspired all at once! That happened this week when Maw and I rented The Queen...

Have you seen The Queen ? Well if you haven't you should. Go out right now and rent it... Well, read this first, then go out and rent it, buy it, download it, whatever-it. The Queen is a great movie with lots of layers and fab acting. Also, it has great sets. Well, the sets of Balmoral are great. And the Blair's house is cool too because it looks so lived in, full of kids and stuff and people tripping over each other in little rooms, which is so much more real than the tidy Nancy Myers sets that we all love, but could never achieve, or at the least maintain....

But back to the castle... Here is a little bit of trivia for you (see this is where my geeky History Major side kicks in...) Balmoral Castle is not a state owned dwelling. Instead it is a private residence owned by the Queen herself. It has been passed down from Queen Victoria, who bought the land and built the castle as a refuge from all the pomp and stuff at Buckingham Palace. Which is funny, really, building a castle to get away from your palace. But I guess we would all have a little get-away home if we could and who is to say a castle in Scotland wouldn't be just the thing? But I digress.

The thing that makes the sets of Balmoral so interesting are that they are a lot more informal than those of the bigger palaces. It is much more English Country Charming than Over The Top Gilding. Because the house is a private residence there haven't been any public photo's taken since the 1980's. On the official web site there are renderings from the 1800's and then comparable photo's from the 1980's but that is it. No current photo's, no virtual tour. So the whole set for the movie was taken from what little info there is and probably some personal accounts, which I find fascinating. For instance, the wallpaper in this scene is taken from the pictures in the archives. Also, there is a mirror in the Dressing Room rendering from 1863 that they use in the actual movie. Wouldn't you love to have been the person to hunt that mirror down in prop warehouses or flea markets?

This is the stuff I love from movies. I love good sets, I love historical sets. I love to see how they use color and light and texture to convey the mood of the movie. How integral the set and the look is to the whole story, whether it flows with the narrative or against the narrative. Oh, to be a set designer, props mistress, art director or set decorator.... what fun!

OK, so now that you know what I would be doing, what would you be doing??


  1. hmmm i have no idea? probably some thing in graphic design? or a conceptual designer... is that even real. you know someone you toys around with all the crafty supplies and what not and sees what they sould come up with. then the execs love it and send it off to be mass produced for the world to enjoy. lol.

  2. I love the style that Amelie and Once Upon A Time In Mexico are filmed in, where they saturate the reds, golds and greens (loving would be easy if our colors were like our dreams). I hope to emulate that in my own home one day - with some turqouise and lavender thrown in for good measure.

    If I wasn't an Executive Assistant sitting at a computer all day? I would probably be a writer sitting at a computer all day. The difference? I could listen to music and wear whatever I want... and the computer would be in my lap in a big comfy chair. Someday Gadget, Someday.

  3. I've always enjoyed the sets of movies as much as the movies themselves.

    I want to see The Queen!

    I would probably be a designer, if I weren't doing what I'm doing now. At least that would be a dream I'd like to pursue.

    Back Porch Musings

  4. Oooh, love movie sets, too. I especially love Meg Ryan's brownstone in You've Got Mail.

    If I weren't accounting for a coffee company, I'd be doing what you're doing. Maybe not the decorating aspect, because I'd never feel as if a project were perfect enough or really finished for that matter.

    I do love accounting ~ I like the rules, that there's a finality to it, the problem solving, but I'm also a total junky for pretty paper, embellishments, random odds & ends, and would be ever so happy if I could make a living at making cool cards, journals, etc.

  5. I will put that movie on my must see list. I'm always checking out the set design in movies and shows. I've even been known to comment on how much I adore a home on shows like Little Bear or Angelina Ballerina. I clearly have a problem.

  6. Carrie1:16 PM

    Since leaving home, I've always lived in the Breakfast at Tiffany's-style. ('Did you just move in?' 'No. I've been here for about a year.')

    Career other than doing 'the people's work' (as my stepdad likes to call the world of non-profit)...something sports-related, but NOT a sideline reporter.

    I'm fairly certain that I could not make a living being crafty or creative. Sigh.

  7. Obviously Jerusalem, you are not the only one that ponders such things. :)
    Remember the set from the Just Around the Corner Bookshop in the movie'You've Got Mail?' It made me fall in love with the idea of someday owning my very own children's book shop. And another favorite set of mine is Gracie's Outdoor/Patio Flower Garden/Studio from the movie 'Return to Me.'

    I think I would love doing pretty much anything that involves working with a lot of COLOR, as long as it included things of a vintage nature of course.

  8. I have not seen the Queen yet, but I want to rent it soon.
    I love looking at all of the sets too. I always look at the houses and decor etc.
    When we go to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, sometimes we see people buying for the movies and tv.
    I loved the cottage in the Holiday.
    You must see that one if you haven't yet.
    Have a great weekend!

  9. sarabeth11:31 PM

    oh, that's easy! I'd be right there on the movie set with you, only on the other side of the camera - playing pretend in the make believe world you created with your sets.

    oh, and i love that set in Return To Me, too. i want to go live there.

  10. i loved the queen too!

    can i get paid to read?

    or i would be cooking at a very small restaurant (four tables) that was only open when i felt like it and used local, very high quality ingredients. obviously, this place needs to be the kind that doesn't need to make a profit.

  11. Alison -
    Yes. You can actually get paid to read. Isn't that fabulous?! I had a friend who was a reader for one of the big publishing houses. Unfortunately, the cities where these opportunities exist are very, very, very expensive to live in. Yet another profit trade off.

  12. You must have hit a nerve! Everyone wants to be doing something else.
    I love to look at the sets also. The one that really affected me was "Courtship of Eddie's Father." It is quintesensial 50's. Everything is blue. The apartments are small, but the hallway and the doors are big.


  13. I love seeing how lots of people would be doing aspects of what they already do, the ones who are lucky enough to do what they love. If I couldn't do music or deal with children in some way...gosh I guess I'd be a bag lady, I don't think I'm really fit for much else.


ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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