Set designers fall into that group you ignore when they're nominations for awards are announced during the Oscars. And yet, creating a strong visual world is everything in a film or TV show.
Which is why it's great that their work and their creativity is being exposed in "Hot Set" (10 p.m. tonight, Syfy), a new competition show that challenges two set designers to create a world in 3 days with a $10,000 budget.
Hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, whose grandfather wrote "Citizen Kane," the show gives production designers a scenario inspired by sci fi, fantasy or horror films -- in the first episode it's a devastated alien landscape -- and a support team, and then lets their imaginations take over. The judges are three noted art directors: Curt Beech who worked on "The Social Network and "Star Trek"; Lilly Kilvert of "The Last Samurai, Legends of the Fall" and Barry Robison who worked on "X-Men Origins" and "The Chronicles of Narnia." In the first episode, Kilvert plays a Tim Gunn-ish role, visiting the sets as the designers work and reminding them of the judges' expectations.
Really, the contestants have two days; on the third day, they each have 30 minutes to shoot a scene on their sets to show how the set looks in a film.
This kind of show relies on the suspense built from the contestants personalities and processes, and on the finished product. In the first episode, Abra is the flight artistic type who can't really express what she wants; there's vision but not order on her set. Craig has a great idea and is organized, but the question is whether he can properly execute his vision.
I'm a sucker for creative types so I enjoyed "Hot Set." And the information exposed about how sets are built is pretty interesting. Looking for bones for a scene? There's a store called the Dapper Cadaver that can hook you up.
"Hot Set" just might make you stay put for those creative awards and properly appreciate the work and thought that helped immerse you in that movie.