When Savannah area production designer Parker Beck gets an opportunity, she makes sure it is one for local businesses, too.
A wedding scene means booking local vendors for a floral arrangement, chairs, and, of course, a wedding cake. She calls on coastal supply companies to recreate hospital scenes and medical facilities. And supplying food? Local restaurants and markets.
“While working on productions in Savannah, I try to spend as much money as possible within Chatham County,” says Parker. “I use mom and pop shops frequently. From printing companies to peanut farmers, we use a huge variety of vendors.”
Parker started out in interior design but was drawn to the film industry after taking a training course on becoming a production assistant with her husband. After working on her first production as a PA in 2011, Parker quickly realized it was not a good fit, but loved the film world. Parker says she found it a magical environment where everyone knew their role and could come together to create a complex piece of art.
Parker decided the art department was where she belonged and worked her way up from set dresser to a member of the Art Directors Guild Local 800 as a Production Designer. Now, a decade later, Parker helps mentor film students from SCAD. She explains to them a huge part of her job is managerial and keenly focused on budget constraints.
“I never tell directors no, I just figure out how to do it on budget and within the location’s parameters,” says Parker. “An essential aspect of my job is building valuable relationships with vendors. My phone is a digital rolodex of odd suppliers.”
During one memorable production, a scene required a stainless-steel table for an interrogation. The night before the shoot, an assistant was sent to pick up what was advertised as a stainless-steel table. On Sunday morning, right before shooting was to start, Parker was notified the top of the table had been covered in a thick coating of lacquered glitter paint. Thinking quickly, Parker purchased aluminum sheeting from Home Depot and covered the top of the table. She ended up with lots of cuts, but the table was ready in time for the scene.
“I love what I do, and I feel extremely blessed to have the film industry in Georgia,” says Parker. “In production design, we get to touch so many different kinds of local businesses, I’m really proud of the relationships we build within our community.”