As a tall, beautiful blond with an optimistic and hardworking attitude,
many would presume that Jenna Linée Kieselbach would be in front of the camera, but instead finds her calling behind the scenes. Kieselbach, an avid set designer, rises on Hollywood’s early wakeup calls, (4AM, or earlier), and is working hard to establish a path for her future in the industry.
After graduating with a degree in art from UCLA, Kieselbach found herself in an industry where she could utilize her passion for art, her knowledge of construction, and live a fast paced way of life. She has already acquired an impressive portfolio of projects, and recently gave MMJ an inside look at here role in the industry and aspirations in this creative field.
"Set design attracted me because it seemed to be the perfect marriage of architecture, film, and creativity. I really enjoy the combination of construction logistics, the challenge of having to build things quickly, and ensuring that the set aids the director in telling his or her story in the most compelling way possible."--Jenna
What does set design consist of?
Set design refers to the technical process of creating construction drawings to build sets. It is very similar to what a draftsman does in the architectural world. The set designer works under the Production Designer (who conceives overall concepts and looks) and the Art Director (who breaks down the technicalities of how everything can feasibly be created).
What are some projects you have worked on?
In the past, I've worked on a few television pilots (unaired), multiple independent shorts and features (one, Running Wild, looks towards a public premiere in the upcoming year), television shows - one of which I'm currently working on called Save Me, which will air on Fox, in addition to music videos, and commercials.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job?
My favorite parts of the job are the constant challenges that you face in trying to figure out how to create something quickly, within the budget, that has never before been seen/done and an end product that hopefully creates some sort of awe within the director. My least favorite parts of the job are the sometimes extensive hours (more in respect to TV) and frustration that everything in Hollywood runs on an early morning schedule. Luckily for me, I am in good company with the coffee drinking.
What is your dream project, and who in Hollywood do you want to work with?
My dream project, which sounds relatively cliché, is to work on one of Joe Wright's period pieces, such as Pride and Prejudice, or on one of Sofia Coppolla's films. I think the allure of being able to create an entirely different world than the one we live in, especially one so ornately detailed, in is the ultimate fantasy for most designers who work in film. Aside from creating an Earth-based environment, just as appealing are films that completely transplant the viewer into another universe or staggeringly different time, such as Jurassic Park, Avatar,or one of my personal favorites, Star Wars. The appeal of designing a world that is completely new is what I strive to work on, and designers such as Independent’s Day’s, Sean Haworth and Sherlock Holmes Sarah Greenwood are a few of my favorites that are well immersed in this alternative world.
Set Design is primarily a male dominated field, how do you see that changing in the future and what impact does that have on you?
I'm fortunate because I enjoy working with males oftentimes because I find that their decisions tend to be more reflective of the way I also think. I couldn't tell you how being a female has aided or hindered me in regards to what opportunities I have or have not had, but I can tell you that having a strong background in architecture, a knowledge of construction, and the ability to think quickly on how something can be made have helped me get to where I am today. I think that any female can be part of the production design of a film, as long as she possesses the skills and aptitude necessary to aid the department and ultimately, the vision of the project.
Sometimes it does feel strange to hear people discuss the means by which I've obtained my current job (which sometimes points to me being a female), but that is an aspect of myself that is not alterable. However, the abilities I possess and vision I can offer an art department are, so I tend to focus on those things much more and ensure that I am the best I can be.
What advice do you have for those seeking to enter the industry?
As far as advice pertaining to those seeking to enter the industry, there is one word I cannot stress enough. NETWORK. Send 10 emails to the same person until you've heard a response. Email the friend of a friend. Stop someone on a backlot and talk to them. My mother always taught me if you don't ask for what you want, you won't receive it. 1000 times over I can tell you this is true. And of course, if it's your dream, NEVER give up. Largely, only the success of people is portrayed in the media, not the years they spent struggling. Realize that film is a strange balance of talent and knowing who is who and take charge of it rather than resent the oftentimes beyond frustrating process. I too started my career with a single wildcard email just a few years ago.
Kieselbach drew on-set "white" boards for the network show Breaking_In.
Kieselbach led the production design for DreamCatchers, which featured a great deal of imagery, as exemplified in this set design.
AS A SET DESIGNER IN HOLLYWOOD
By Roxana Vosough
Roxana Vosough, is the Founder & Publisher of Mode-Moderne Journal
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