“It’s a show that’s close to my heart that I’ve been part of since day one, so it didn’t feel stressful or scary. It felt right and fun and like an amazing opportunity to do some really cool stuff,” says Shayne Fox, who in season four of “What We Do in the Shadows” moved from set decorator to production designer. We talked to Fox as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV production design panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“What We Do in the Shadows” continues to follow the exploits of three vampires living in Staten Island, but season four found them returning to a mansion in disrepair. “The mansion set is iconic to the show, and there we were taking sledgehammers and Sawzalls to it,” Fox remembers. “So it was pretty nuts. We added ceilings where there didn’t used to be hard ceilings so we could have disrepair coming down. We took out entire walls so we could see through them to the plumbing and to the decaying whatever was in the walls. We did the big tree coming through the fancy room.”
But an even bigger undertaking was “The Night Market,” which is the episode being entered for Emmy consideration this year. That title location, where supernatural beings go to barter and trade their wares, was “probably the biggest install setup, most cinematic, most stunt-heavy, most layered, most set-dressing-filled space that ‘Shadows’ has ever done.” She was told about it early on and “created images and files for myself, textures and possible elements that we could focus on. … I designed a modular system of cross pieces and uprights and bases and fire bowls and all sorts of things that could work together and interconnect.”
As challenging as the logistics may be, though, designing for “Shadows” is like being “a kid in a candy store.” Because the main characters have lived for centuries, “we’re not tied to a certain period. We’re all periods. We’re historic, we’re current, we’re Staten Island, we’re whatever we want to be.” Those characters do have specific histories and backstories that can be leaned into, but there’s also the freedom to “follow our noses.”
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