Sara and I were fortunate enough to be guests at a recent taping of The Big Bang Theory. Before the show, we had the chance to chat with Ann Shea, the set decorator, and Scott London, the property master. They were both very nice and very generous with their time, and we had a lot of fun talking with them! If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that we have sent an assortment of NASA items their way. We’ve been really interested in the detail in the sets for the show, how they pick the stuff to include, and where they find inspiration for all of the sets that pop up in each show! Ann revealed all:
Maggie: What is your official job title?
Ann: I’m the set decorator, and so usually once I get the plans and the walls are built is when I start my work of providing the furniture and the plants and the artwork and all the cool objects, the floor coverings and the practical lights.
Maggie: Where do you source everything? Do you have to send out a crew to go buy things in different places?
Ann: I go out to the prop houses or online or retail stores, and I pick it all out myself, every single thing on the show, and it’s a lot of stuff. Then my crew goes and picks it up for me and they bring it back here and place it where we think it should go.
Maggie: Once the initial plans are developed, and things are shopped for, what are your duties show to show? Do you supervise how stuff is put on the set?
Ann: Yes! And people think that, “Oh, once you have the main sets done, you pretty much don’t have much to do, right?” But little do they know, every week sets come in and go out. So, Koothrappali’s apartment doesn’t sit here on the stage all the time. It goes out and comes back in. So just collecting all that stuff again is a bit of a job. But usually my lead man takes care of most of that. But every once in a while when we try to get stuff back, and it’s a rental, they’ll be out, so I have to find whatever items are missing off of our order. But also, we have lots of swing sets every week, that are new sets, that people don’t even realize. We may only be in there for 10 seconds, but yet I have to do the whole set.
Maggie: We know that Leonard & Sheldon’s apartment is always there but it’s amazing when you watch the show that Raj’s apartment and all these things come down and up, because they look the same every time. And I can’t imagine how much work it is to put the comic book store up and down, and it’s impressive.
Sara: They’re very rich – I can’t even imagine every item that has to go into them.
Maggie: Yeah, because there’s a lot of stuff, it’s not just like one shelf with three things on it. There’s a lot of detail in each set.
Sara: These guys own a lot of stuff!
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