interior sets on TV shows – where do they come from???


I’m thinking of shows like Law and Order or Mad Men, single camera shows with up to 15 different interior sets in a single episode, many unique from episode to episode, how does this work? Is there a library of seedy new York apartments just sitting around waiting to be used, like an ikea showroom? Are they fully set up and torn down each time, or are they left set up so different shows can use them? Do the walls come apart like a theatre set?

Thanks for any insider info!

In: Other

They usually are in large buildings that look like warehouses. The sets are built and taken apart by professionals who are experts in lighting, object placement, interior design etc…then through camera work and editing, a tv show or film is made to look more natural.

Repeated interiors are usuay left long standing. Think like the main offices on law and order. But one time episode sets are always unique so require design, setup and teardown for filming just one episode.

Exterior shots are actually real location. So on the Street, In the park, etc

There are several different options for shows and movies. If a location is going to be used over and over (like the hospital for ER) they will either build it or find a location they can use long term (like an abandoned hospital). For one-off locations such as on shows like Law & Order, they usually rent regular places. There are people called location scouts whose entire job is finding locations (homes, businesses, etc.) to rent for filming. They maintain huge lists so when the director asks for a specific type of location (say a middle class appartement on the ground floor) they already have several options with photos. The people who rent their home get up to several thousand dollars a day, and there can be other perks as well. The production then either uses the existing furniture and just “dresses” it to the taste of the shot, or empties the location and fills it with their own stuff. When they are done, they put it back to the way it was. On a show like Law & Order that uses many locations an episode, there are whole teams that are working days ahead of the production to get the locations ready and then cleaning them up after.

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