The fact that the Drömpyramiden game show on TV4 is shot in our facilities at Subtopia is a well-guarded secret. Between rigging and takes, we took an opportunity to ask for some tips from the star scenographer Andreas Bini, who created the magical set with the brightly illuminated boxes that are seen on the show.
How did you choose your occupation?
I’m self-taught, so I never studied anything. I’ve just been very interested in scenography and design since I was a kid. I had to take the long route to get here. I started out as a construction carpenter, and did that for several years. Next, I spent six or seven years working as a set carpenter at the Backa Teater theatre in Gothenburg. That was where I discovered scenography. Although I had heard of it before, of course, that was where I began thinking “Yes!” In my role as a carpenter, I saw the scenographers work, and I thought to myself: “I can do that better!”
Are there any benefits to being self-taught?
I always tell people that my advantage is that I’m not constricted by the norms and rules they teach you at school; I don’t carry a bunch of “thou shalts” or “you musts” around. Instead, I take a few steps back and decide for myself if it feels right or not. And of course, it always helps to have mastered the design software you use. I hardly ever use pen and paper, I usually work in 3D software. This allows me to visualise the end result and show it to my customers before we begin construction.
Could you tell us what makes for optimal working conditions for a scenographer?
Good advance planning and a good budget. That’s how it used to be. Television, for instance, has changed a lot since the various streaming services started to appear. There’s not as much money anymore, and the networks aren’t sure what will be successful or not, so they end up deciding what to include in their programming at a pretty late stage. This has caused my timetables to shrink by a great deal. And fast is never cheap, so this doesn’t go well with the limited budgets.
What’s the difference between working for TV and working for theatre?
Theatre allows more room for change and thinking along the way. I’m working on a musical that’s set to open in August 2018, and while we haven’t begun sketching it yet, the process has already begun. When you work for TV, the whole job can be a matter of just two months. That’s a very short timetable for a scenographer, so you don’t get a chance to try different options out. Construction alone takes three to four weeks. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had in your career? Oh, there’s several! I worked at Backa Teater, and I shared a lot of great moments with exciting personalities there. But I also remember the early stages of my career in TV scenography. A friend of mine brought me along to the shooting of Robinson, the Swedish version of Survivor. It was so cool the first time we arrived on those islands! Getting to visit places where humans don’t usually go. There were so many moments at Robinson that led me to where I am today.
Oh! Also, shaking hands with David Bowie at Bingolotto! I was working as an assistant once, on New Year’s Eve, and he was there. That was very cool!
Is there a magical formula for creating good scenography?
I like to say that when I’m working on big entertainment, a musical scene or something, I want the set to be visible from the moon. I want it to be obvious where the edges of the stage are, and what shape it is. It’s all about communicating simply with the viewer. The stuff I do tends not to be arty-farty TV. I’m not underestimating the viewers either, I’m just aware that they’re not exactly paying attention to the scenography I’ve made. What they want is to figure out the plot, or hear the words the singer is singing. And if I can frame that nicely for them, of course they’ll appreciate that.