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When designing a show you have to balance the needs of the story with the limitations of your space and budget. The story of It's a Wonderful Life takes place over many years and in dozens of locations, but we didn't have the space for large sets or the time to do complex scene changes. I decided that since the building and loan was a major plot devise in the show that the families homes and their construction would be the right look. We ended up and a unitset design that represented the exposed framework of the town of bedford falls. These 2x4 framed platforms became the setting for all the locations in the show, They were fitted with revolving panels and sliding walls to help get set pieces on and off stage. This way crew members wouldn't be seen and break the illusion. With the help of some good lighting and props the set transported the audience to the far off land of Bedford falls.
Emperor Set Design

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