Set Dressing Crew
Jim Etter


October 4, 2011

I would be honored to have a bit of my accounting and my experiences on Quantum.  Ron would know me by name if you meet him again.   Scott & dean were fun guys to work with. I remember our last wrap party (I think 1-year shy of the magic number 5) and Dean sat across form me after dinner. (I think a dressed Sound Stage bat Uni.) He held up his index finger as he announced to our table. "Guy's. just wish for ONE MORE YEAR!"  He so wanted to complete the magic number.  I can not recall what the execs pulled the plug on such a popular show.

I only went to one Leaper Convention. Invited to help decorate and light the Vivid Blue Tunnel (another of my creations) It was white and I found a blue burning flourescent. Ron popped for the tubes. Don't know if you remember that.

Looking for Photos. I know several who still may be working. Dave Lanning the Swing Gang Lead man, who lives in Simi Valley. Greg Ohhh!!!!! And Richard who lives in No. Ho. Been too long, although I have pictures around someplace, old Crew Lists (buried) and unfortunately I gave my last 5 scripts away to a fan.

If you ever have meetings where I could meet a few of the fan club, I would be glad to convey some of my stories. Some funny stuff that went wrong.  Scott was one of the most versatile actors ever. Going from either gender to all decades.  He always said; "That for an actor, it was a dream come true to portray such diversity as an actor as Quantum provided."  Think about it. It was all over the place. Kept me on my toes.

I remember an incident where Scott was in a Wild Wild West mode. He purchased something and according to the screenplay, the storekeeper put it in a paper bag. Zilliox researched it and discovered that the paper bag was not much in use until a decade later. The writers scurried to the set to do a quick fix. By then Scott had it all under control and the scene in the can with use of an on-set potato sack provided by the decorating crew.   It was just a smooth fun show.

I have worked on over 300 productions in my time. Quantum was one of my favorite.

I was attached to the Set Dressing Crew with Bob Zilliox (the Decorator) Bob brought me in from left field as an expert in creating all the different decades we encountered and how to light them.  I gave my clues to the Gaffer and set about doing all the back ground and fixture lighting keeping Bob Zilliox on the track for the different era's we managed to fuddle through.

One particular set "Castle Dracula"  had 800 Bees Wax candles. The illumination from the candles alone was not enough at that time to get 35 f/c so we need to supplement the areas where Scott would walk. Being a round room, it was difficult to hide real equipment. I made little C/A sockets to stick on the back of each candle needed (about 400 of them) and experimented with different wattages. I finally used 40w and put them through several different flicker generators and dimmers to achieve the color and breaking the pattern by use of 18 generators.

This won Bob a Emmy Nomination.  Bob was a great decorator and deserved more credit than he ever got from any of the Art Directors of several shows I worked with him.

Ziggie came to our shop with not having enough animation. Although designed already and looking like a computer, it needed a little more pazazz according to UPM Ron Grow, of whom I worked with before.  He said this is a special effx job, however I know you from the years past and will shoot it to Bob's warehouse at Western, and you take a look.

I changed all the tubes (quite a job as the Effx Guys sealed them inside with glue on all the panels, as if a tube would never burn out)  I remember working a whole week-end sleeping in a furniture pad Sat/night and getting done in time for Bob and his Gang to move it to Universal Sound Stages.  I had flasher buttons, replaced some of the neon with inca. tube lights and a few mixed colors on the top little compartments.  I did pretty much re-build the whole Ziggie Master Computer.   Bob gave me a week off with pay for that one.

Some of the in the future stuff was challenging. I did mega neon to make bright lights that ate the lens from under beds or wherever it would seem possible to have a light.

My favorite trickswere just conventional sets to light a book shelf with bead lights, or lots of little mini lights (25-60watt) C/A behind plates, in shelves, top light on vanity or anything needing the eye to move upwards.  I loves the outdoors establishing shots.  Sometimes 2 or 3 blocks with hundreds of porcelain sockets and 75w-150w Par 36 lights. my favorite was the newly discovered R-20 PAR.  Nice little lights.   Anything you saw streaking a house to etch shadows, or up lights on trees, shrubs or fountain lights were each an individual creation.  loved it. No credit, but I know who made the sets of Zilliox come alive and pop.

Bob loved to pull me off the job wherever i was and beat the scouting team or director to the studio. Waiting for them to walk on set, I counted to 10 and started driving the sometimes hundreds of lights up one by one. The Producers and Director would be dazzled. Bob would smile and wink at me in appreciation.  What a difference a set is with work lights as to sets lit and ready to shoot. Sometimes even stealing set lighting stuff from the floor set and placing it on windows and shrubs outside.  The sets were pretty much ready as the A-Team would come in for a Pre-Light. it was then a matter of balance.   i made a couple of hundred 600-1K dinners. Everything was in that, so it was easy for the gaffer to dim the fixtures, be it a porch light or a back light or picture light to ambiance.  I did this I think for about 3/years, maybe more, on Quantum.

I had very little encounters with anybody, as I often worked all night. Passed the set to the Gaffer & DP. Went home and came back that night or if the schedule provided I live like a human and not a bat, I would begin a regular day with the Swing Gang.

That's about it for Quantum.  I went on to be the Technical Coordinator (DGA) for SJCP on all his shows.  i hired fixture crews and went about hiring all the daily crew on half a dozen crews. (The - Team, Hunter, Stingray, Hardcastle, Greatest American Hero,  10-Speed & Brownshoe, Riptide, Last Precinct..............) Bought and rented all the technical equipment.  When Cannel moved to Canada, I turned down the move and started with Spelling. Soon Aaron learned of my expert Fixtures ability as Ron Grow came on board 7th Heaven.  I designed the whole lighting system for the house.   I did Burks law as a set lighting BB on that show (lasted 2-seasons) and bounced from 90210, Melrose Place as a 2nd unit gaffer and sometimes a AD/UPM.

My career has stretch almost all the trades, Producer, UPM, AD, Fixtures guy (my biggest was American Me) making the front cover of American Cinematographer. Also nominated for an Oscar.  I retired on Mr. & Mrs Smith taking a fall from a 5-ton truck nearly 8 years ago and used all my resources in effort to get Workers Comp to repair the broken and still immobile body parts.  i had to quit work and have used all resources, living now in near poverty.  The 2nd  most wealthy industry in California, and I get just over $1,000 a month from a lifetime of work.  But I did enjoy immensely my career, especially in front of the camera.

God Bless,


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