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The Modern Wizard school of set design illustrated with the Body Shop Cafe

The Modern Wizard school of set design illustrated with the Body Shop Cafe published on No Comments on The Modern Wizard school of set design illustrated with the Body Shop Cafe

Tonight I set up a corner of the Body Shop, a nexus of PWS culture in Zombieville.


This setup shows some of my time-tested elements, as well as a few new things. I shoot all of my photostories on my desk, illuminated by two umbrella lamps [not shown] and an LED lamp off to the left. Also standard is the magnetic accordion wall to which I have attached my white fabric backdrop. Both the white wall and the standard white piece of cardboard beneath the main part of the set enhance the accuracy of my colors and levels.

The soda fountain and the brick wall are sort of new. I have had the Barbie Coke Soda Fountain for years, but I have rarely photoed it because its mirrored surfaces tend to reveal the photographer. I finally glued some white copier paper over the mirrors on the back wall. Now it looks fucking dull, so I’ll have to decorate it somehow, but at least it doesn’t reflect me anymore.

I have also had the brick wall fabric for years. However tonight I finally got around to making a second set wall by gluing some of this fabric on the lid of my Mattel She-Ra box. The lid is deep enough that it stands alone on its edge, providing a freestanding, movable wall piece.

Among the 11 dolls, there are several sub-conversations going on. From left to right, they are as follows: 1) Lumberjack and Brandeis, 2) Farrier and unnamed Mattel Modern Circle Melody, 3) unnamed Disney Pocahontas and unnamed Mattel Ken Fashionista, 4) unnamed short person [mostly behind the Ken] and Sylvia [seated in green chair], and 4) 2 Battat Mini Our Generation Girls and a Knickerbocker Annie on a Mattel articulated Stacy body. All of the last three have no names.

As people know, my philosophy on set design depends on a mix of modular elements that suggest, but do not replicate, reality. In this case, I needed to make a coffee shop, so I determined the key elements: walls, people, counter, seats, food.  I used a few expensive pieces here, mostly the soda fountain and that green chair, but I have created similar sets with even simpler elements. In my estimation, if my story is strong enough, it will draw people in, and they will accept simple, stylized sets in service of a compelling narrative. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

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