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Production Design Secrets For Your Favorite Fall Films

The fall season is in full swing! We're giving you production design secrets of our top five favorite fall sets from film. Check it out below!🧣🍂🧡

Mansion with fog
Hocus Pocus mansion - NPR


#1 Production designer Jess Gonchor of Little Women (2019) envisioned the March house as a place with the charm of your grandmother’s worn-out jewelry box.

Positioned at the heart of the film, this home was conceived to be a versatile space – a haven for the sisters to be creative and playful, a sanctuary for recovery, and a canvas for emotions ranging from happiness to sadness.

Collage of furniture and props images
Mood board for the March House parlor imagined by Set Decorator Claire Kaufman - SDSA

Director Greta Gerwig drew inspiration from Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 novel, adding more forward-thinking design to the film’s design. The team worked to bring art– European Impressionist paintings to the works of Winslow Homer– from this era to life, while combining raw elements of everyday life.

Photo of a dimly lit attic
The March House attic - Architectural Digest

#2 Glass Onion: A Knive's Out Mystery (2022) production designer Rick Heinrichs peeled back the layers of an onion (yes, the vegetable) to study its structural components for the notorious, titular centerpiece of the film – the ‘Glass Onion’.

Once Heinrichs carved out the onion, he had a better understanding of its structural quality, compiling detailed drawings and 3D renderings of each layer.

digital renderings of the glass onion
Concept art for the Glass Onion by Rick Heinrichs - Variety

The impressive appearance of the Glass Onion may lead viewers to believe it's a real-world location. However, much of the architecture is the result of CGI and VFX. The interior shots of the Glass Onion were filmed on a sound stage, with only a partial glass structure separating the actors from the blue screen and background.

#3 Will Keane’s restaurant in Autumn in New York (2000) was so realistic that New York passerby would try to score reservations!

Designed by Mark Friedberg, the restaurant was built to be an extension of Will’s sophisticated, downtown financial district loft. Draped with floor to ceiling reflective glass, the exterior reflects a glossy and contemporary style.

inside of a restaurant
Will Keane’s restaurant - OTSO New York

#4 The scenic artists and special effects team for Hocus Pocus (1993) used dust and cobweb guns to make the Sanderson Sisters’ Cottage reflect the dirty and abandoned feel of 17th century Salem.

Set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg recalls that cobweb guns during this time used rubber cement to craft webs with perfect light-reflecting realism. However, present-day regulations restricts the use to glue stick guns, which lacks the same effect.

living room inside a cottage
Sanderson Sisters’ Cottage - NPR

The dust guns used Fuller’s Earth, which is a clay-like substance that can be turned into fine powder for dust effects in film and photography.

Granules of Auromére sand
Fuller’s Earth - Auromére

#5 During her research, The Edge of Seventeen (2016) director Kelly Fremon Craig personally interviewed a handful of teenagers to gain insights on their everyday lifestyle.

After each interview, she kindly asked everyone to go home and take a photo of their bedroom as is – no tinkering, no cleaning. Craig sent these photos to the set decorator and they highlighted what they loved about each room, drawing inspiration for Nadine's teenage layer.

Woman walking into a bedroom
Nadine’s Bedroom - IMDB

We look forward to another year of films to keep us cozy during the fall season. We hope you enjoyed delving into the production design secrets that brought these five fall films to life. Happy fall!




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