This has to be one of the most outrageous sets ever done on Magnum. Well, thank you--it was all my idea! My neck was on the line, but unlike today, I had the trust and encouragement from those above me. Sadly, those days seem to be gone. Even more amazing, we had ONE day to dress this empty store on a Friday, we shot it Saturday when we were allowed greater control over traffic on this otherwise busy street (Nuuanu Ave.) and then we struck it (removed) on Sunday. By Monday it was like it was never there.
Because it was a long day (and ultimately Friday night), I had to call for extra security since every hooker in downtown Honolulu was trying to come in and shop! Also, anyone who was leaving work on Friday afternoon and saw this "new shop" going in on Friday must have been surprised when they went to work on Monday morning and no trace of it existed.
The location was amazing - an old 50's (maybe even older) store interior that had hardly been touched. There were 3 bays on one side of the store and 3 bays on the other with a center area. Given that the name of the store was "Never on Sunday" (in reference to the movie of the same name where the girls took Sunday off and the fact that it was a front for other activity), it gave me the idea to do a different theme for each of the 6 bays using lingerie. This presented another problem. Where were we going to get all of this lingerie and who was going to know how to put it all together? I joked that my crew only knew how to take it off--not put it on! I had seen an ad in the paper that a new lingerie shop had opened in a small shopping area. Dealing with an independent owner is always much easier than dealing with a corporate entity like, say, a Victoria's Secret chain store. We obviously couldn't afford to buy all of the clothing and it's a little strange to rent underwear! Well, set decorating is not all carpeting and drapes as you might have learned by now. So I went into this shop, explained myself to the new owner, and she agreed to not only supply the outfits, but also "install" (so to speak) the merchandise. I probably should have been a used car dealer with this sales ability. Luckily she came through since we only had the one day to set up (it costs money each day you rent a location), had there been a problem with her not showing, we would have had a huge problem.
Something I have recognized over the years that I seem to be able to do well is to look at a pile of STUFF and organize and make sense out of it (with the exception of my own desk, of course). So I walk into this shop with my crew, this woman, a pile of our stuff and her stuff, try not to trip over the carpenters who are also installing their walls and get to work. I think they call it total chaos? I sort of picture in my mind what I want to do, but I'm flexible enough to go with what we have. I've worked for decorators who belong to the "Let's try it over there.......no, let's trying if over here" school of decorating. It's fine when you have days to move and try and change things, but it's a pain when you have only 1 day. The fact that decorators work on a flat rate (and not hourly) might have something to do with it!
It helped that Bernie Kowalski (standing in white out in front of the "before" picture) was one our best directors. Creative, understanding and fun, I felt that I could be a little more creative and have some fun. Sometimes we work a little harder for the "good" directors. Everything came together on this one. Bernie walked in Saturday morning and loved it all. It's amazing how the director, assistant director and director of photography can walk onto a set for the first time, look at the set, figure out their moves (blocking) and be able to convey it all in pieces to the actors (they digest little bits at a time better between visits to their motor homes). When it all works within the time and budget constraints and everything comes together (miracles do happen regularly), it's a great feeling. You even get 6 weeks to pretend they saw all of our hard work on the screen before watching the episode and seeing somewhat less. Sometimes by then a couple more episodes have passed and it's hard to remember all that was done earlier.
I hope you are all getting a little more insight into what went into all those episodes--and still goes on with most shows today.