Set painter Kristina White said there’s no great secret to recreating a 100-plus-year-old house for "The Vampire Diaries."
"A lot of it is beating it up. You make it look really pretty; then, you take a rock or a piece of metal or chain or hammer and beat it up," White said. "It’s pretty simple."
Abusing the set isn’t a random act, though; crew members have to think logically about what places in a house would get worn down over time. Sanding down staircase steps is a common measure, as 50 years’ worth of walking would cause wear and tear.
White is equally adept at building, painting and decorating, gifts she gets from her parents — locals Mike and Pat Free.
Her father was a mechanical engineer and her mother was an expert craft-maker; White believes set design marries the two traits.
"It’s the perfect combination of them both. I like to build things and decorate them. I get the engineering part from my dad; he was Mr. Wizard and was always trying out new things. Mom was always doing a craft project, and both of them kind of melded into me," White said.
White appreciates set design because people actually use her creations.
"To put something on paper, build it and actually have people play on it — that’s my favorite thing," White said.
White, 34, lives in Braselton and will earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and technical design and theater this winter from the University of North Georgia.
She worked with "The Vampire Diaries" this summer after joining the local movie union; her work hasn’t been on the show yet, she said, but should appear in 2014 episodes. She also worked on two movies coming out this November; privacy agreements prevent her from sharing any details. Her work for "The Vampire Diaries" was creating interior and exterior sets, including building some from the ground up — laying sheet rock, applying a base coat and painting — the same work one would do on a new house.
"For the movies part, it’s aging it, making it look timeless, and like whatever era they’re in," White said.
She’s also worked on several theater projects, including handling full set design duties for "Alice in Wonderland" — the large cake she made turned out really well. She’s currently working on a production of "Guys and Dolls" and has been recreating a sewer scene — "there are lots of layers of wet material."
White has no plans to move out of the Atlanta area, as the explosion of opportunities in the local filming market makes her feel comfortable about being able to find steady work in the future.
"I’m getting in at the right time," she said.