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Ten Minutes With: Production Designer Tim Galvin

On a snowy New York day, Tim Galvin was staying warm on set waiting trying to find a quiet spot away from the helicopters being used for the upcoming scene.  The production designer who’s credits include “Silence of the Lambs,” “Beloved” and last year’s US remake of “Prime Suspect” is currently busy completing the last two episodes of “The Following.”

“The show spans a long  period of time, so we can incorporate the weather into the story line at times,” said Galvin.  “Of course, these frequent snow storms do cause a bit of a problem  beyond production.”

Although the series is in its second season, this was Galvin’s first involvement with the story.   He had just completed another project and was established in New York when he discovered the producers were looking for a replacement production designer.  Galvin quickly caught up with the story and was excited to jump in at a point when the series was going through a complete re-imagining.

“Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) hit rock bottom.  He wanted to change the course of his life, so we got to reflect that in his personal environment,” said Galvin.  “Although it is the same apartment space, we completely rebuilt it.  It’s very minimalist and modern, almost clinical with lots of strong lines.  Ryan is focused  entirely on killing Joe Carroll and his living space reflects his single mindedness.”

Galvin and his team also rebuilt the FBI headquarters where the second season began with a search for Ryan Hardy, who was working off grid, and a series of characters with Joe Carroll-esque tendencies, specifically those of Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen.)  Working with her two sons Luke and Mark (both played by Sam Underwood) a wide variety of individuals are murdered in locations including an upscale high-rise, a wealthy Manhattan apartment, and a gutted brownstone.  Galvin and his team create this multitude of environments within days after receiving the script.

“Scouting the right locations is key in these types of circumstances.  You have to have the right look for the environment.  Everything else is paint and furnishings,” said Galvin.

Lily Gray’s art gallery offers a prime example of finding the perfect spot for the scene.  Upon learning an art gallery was needed, Galvin and the location scouts began visiting a wide variety of New York art galleries.  The establishments they visited were too small or offered too many windows for the action in the scene to play out properly.  Lily’s gallery offered a high class look with lots of open space and a passageway where she could easily escape.  Galvin came across a vacant store space and realized he had found the perfect high end gallery.  While the setting was only a small part of one episode, Galvin felt it was important to get every detail in line to create believability for the audience.

As the series continues, more characters and environments will be introduced.  In some situations, one location can double for another after the paint and set dressing is altered, such as the hotel room used for a scene with Mark and Luke as well as a later scene between Ryan and his niece.  Other sequences, such as the establishment created by a new cult leader who tries to control Joe Carroll, have to be built from the ground up.  Galvin has amassed a crew of thirty with various creative and construction skill sets who are working on not only outfitting sets but building unique items such as a human-sized bird cage Lily uses to present a living victim to Joe Carroll.

“We really have a chance to get creative, and to explore the different characters by infusing their personality into the environments,” said Galvin.

Prior to keeping busy bringing to live the homes and hideaways of serial killers and their innocent victims on television, Galvin spent a few months creating the regal and historic settings of the White House and the civil-rights movement South in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”  While he had a greater timeline to work with, Galvin found the period epic equally challenging.

“Everyone has a perception of the White House,” said Galvin.  “There is an incredible amount of  pressure to get it right.  We did a lot of research and looked at countless photos taken during those presidencies.  It was a great experience working on that film.”