With only five days remaining in our countdown to Season 2, it’s time to follow Deb and A Discovery of Witches TV in relishing every single tiny detail the art department created for the series. When we talked about adaptation a few days ago, we briefly mentioned the kind of work and imagination that goes into taking a story from one medium to another — as a reader, you might envision a set–Philippe’s office, Matthew’s study, Diana’s bedroom–in broad strokes. You might fill it with “furniture” or “objects” or “clothes” in your head, or you might leave bits in shadow while your imagination focuses on the characters and what they’re doing on the page. One of the great challenges of imagination and scale for a TV adaptation is taking, for example, “Philippe’s study” as a concept and turning it into a real, organic space in which actors can tell a story.
Because we’re positively spoiled in this fandom, we have tremendous access to the set dressing and artwork of A Discovery of Witches TV even before the premiere. Deb’s #book2screenmagicmonday posts give us the chance to see set dressings up close — handwritten letters in Matthew’s attic, the embroidery on a de Clermont livery saddle pad, the carvings on Matthew and Diana’s period-appropriate bed.
The man in charge of the magic, production designer James North, gave a fabulous interview to Entertainment Weekly at the start of Season 1. In that interview, he talked about creating the overall “feel” of the production and giving it that magical depth:
Though every set is grounded in reality, the series’ tale of witches, vampires, and daemons automatically calls for a heightened magical element. However, North says it’s really not all that different from production design on any project. “It’s almost a slightly heightened reality we’re producing,” he says. “You do things which aren’t normal. You would never color-coordinate how your cereal boxes line up in your cupboard, but that’s the sort of thing we would do.”
So, when you look at those jaw-dropping sets, those intricate details, you have to realize that each one was put there with intention and care. You can take a deep-dive into the production team’s work in Season 1 via this incredible look at the Witches’ Archive on Isola della Stella from AMC.
We can’t wait to see the rich colors, the intense detail, the care and craft that went into each set in Season 2. If you could take a deep dive into any setting in Shadow of Night, where would it be? Where would you pull every item off the shelf and look in every corner?
We’ll celebrate the premiere of Season 2 with a live-tweet on Saturday, 9 January 2021, at 7pm EST. Use the hashtag #ccalchemy to join us and invite your friends!
Cait and Jen