White Cloth and Concrete Walls: Creating the look for The Earth Below

This little short had a couple of big firsts for us at Moth to Flame. First science fiction piece, and because it’s science fiction it was the first time where the production design played a big role.


I got the script a couple of weeks before we started shooting so I knew the content, but it wasn’t until our one and only pre-production meeting did the “look” get fleshed out. And of course the meeting was over mimosas on a Sunday. Once we started talking it was clear that there needed to be an Asian influence in the design. It was mutually decided that Japanese minimalism was what we wanted to achieve with the look.


Once we decided on the “look”, that’s when we (me and Christine) both started having a panic attack. We had to get everything in a week and a half. ALL the wardrobe, ALL the set pieces, EVERYTHING. Everything to be purchased, used/kept clean, and then returned after the shoot. So we (mainly Christine) didn’t have to live in a cardboard box afterwards.


We immediately started scouring the webs for simplistic white clothing, which is harder than you think, especially in October. White dresses and tunics layered with white leggings were what we decided on. The intention was to make all the actors look like they were in a 1984 type world, but to also have a high-fashion element to the look. We bought more then we needed and prayed everything would be shipped in time.


Then I made a very impromptu visit to some local stores to get matching grey simple outfits for promotional photos and a prop. Then more visits to the store for the male wardrobe……And then I’m broke and the white clothing was stuck in Hong Kong, a few days before the shoot…..Crap….Well a lot of Facebook messaging back and forth with links to white clothing and shoes (oh the shoes). MORE white clothing was bought that WOULD get to us in time. Then thank goodness for Ikea, which furnished almost our whole apartment scene.


So again for the interior of the apartment it needed elements of Japanese minimalism, but enough personal touches to make it feel home-y. Pinterest helped a lot with finding images that would fit into that mold. A friend of the production was kind enough to let us use his apartment that he had just moved into. Which is very kind and very helpful, because the main space only needed to be cleared of a few things. A small floor plan was created the day of the rehearsals and once I was in there it was time to see if that floor planned worked. And luckily enough it did. The apartment itself lent a lot to the look. It had a great exposed ceiling with piping going across, concrete walls, and vintage windows.


Once we had the wardrobe actually in our hands and ironed, the apartment in place, everything else felt like a cake walk. I was very proud of how this production turned out. Usually with our productions the set decorating is kind of secondary because we just kind of have to deal with the locations as is and there’s not really a budget. This time we really got to flex the creative juices and muscles. So for the time frame and budget that we put in I think it looks great.


I’m happy with it.

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