Let It Shine is a modern, hip hop retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac. Much of the story centers around young poet Cyrus (Tyler James Willimas) and his relationship with his conservative, Baptist minister father (Courtney B. Vance). Here is a view of his church, with a rather complicated stage build in it.
Even more of the story takes place in a teen hip hop club called Off the Street. Thematically we chose to play on that name and create a huge, de-constructed "street" as a safe space for a young crowd to meet, dance, and compete. The set was built in an enormous, abandoned auto manufaturing plant, which gave us the opportunity to incorporate some of it's amazing industrial goodness. This is the main rap-battle stage and DJ booth.
As part of our de-construction concept, we found lightweight, junked English cars, stripped them down to the bare bones, and hung them from the ceiling, ringed by circular lighting trusses.
Opposite the rap-battle stage, here is a section of the de-constructed "city".
A view from behind the rap-battle stage, with the caged-in DJ booth on the left.
A view of the club before opening. This is the dining area, and we decided to handle the kitchen by presuming it's inside this lovely Airstream trailer, advancing our "street" scenario nicely. The large arched windows are built into a wall plug, closing the set off from the vast factory space beyond. A painted city-scape that wraps the outer walls of the set covers part of the windows, adding a nice colorful touch.
A view of the pool table area taken from the "Gas Station" in club Off the Street.
One of the suspended car/lighting units in club Off the Street.
A detail of the "city" under construction. To further the de-constructed, street-art feel of our cityscape, we photographed several brick patterns, modified them to make them super grainy and printed them in the color scheme of old, cheap comic book pages on huge rolls of paper. Then the painters applied them in torn strips and patches, to give the feeling of the whole city as nothing but layers and layers of wheat-pasted street art.
A detail of the DJ booth perched behind the rap-battle stage in club Off the Street.
In the story, club Off the Streets is a well known venue for top hip hop acts. This is a stage/set piece built specifically for a performance by the popular young star Roxxie (Coco Jones). It is ultimately a huge triangular, mirrored room for several beats of the song, which creates an infinite efffect, reflecting Roxxie's image and the harlequin-checkered floor thousands of times. Here only two of the walls are in. The third wall was installed by a crane overnight, and consisted of two 12'x16' sliding doors that weighed 1,200 pounds each.
Another view of Roxxie's (Coco Jones) stage in club Off the Street. Centered in the raked stage is a two-tiered turn table, the top held Roxxie as she turned clockwise, and her four "attendant" dancers turned counterclockwise, creating a music-box effect.
Roxxie's (Coco Jones) mirrored set ready to go in club Off the Street.
Unfortunately, the nature of the set made it very difficult to photograph when it was lit and closed up with the talent inside. So this nearly-finished, lit-by-worklights image is my best demonstration of the full, three-walled triangular mirror effect in action.
Roxxie (Coco Jones) Ready to go in her fully enclosed morrored set. I did manage to dash in and grab this shot moments before we rolled. I think it adequately conveys the idea of the space and the effect.
Another single-performance, music video style set in club Off the Street, this time for the debut of up and coming hip hop star Kris (Trevor Jackson). This sits in the same opening as the giant, fragile, raked mirror set, which was torn out overnight and replaced with this sleek, black void.
Sleek sign for Atlanta Records.
A stage set recording studio in Atlanta Records. Part of the Cyrano De Bergerac conceit requires the smitten young Roxxie (Coco Jones) to be unable to tell that the rapper in the session room is not the boy she thinks he is. So we created the sexy backlit wall so he could be nothing but a silhouette in the warm light.
Another view of the Atlanta Records recording studio set.
A detail of the session room with it's glowing backlit wall in the Atlanta Records recording studio set.
A reverse in the recording studio room.
The waiting area outside the recording studios in Atlanta Records. The final set was a combination of a practical location- the incredibly impressive lobby of the Suntrust buildiing in downtown Atlanta- and our stage set. This is the waiting area as built in the Suntrust lobby.
The Atlanta Records recording studio set we built looks out through huge glass windows to the waiting area, so we duplicated that little patch of the Suntrust lobby on stage.
A lovely, glowing red sign we made for our fictional luxury hotel.
Elongated rap battle stage and stairs for the final, marquee rap competition.
Cool fictional record shop sign we built (covering the sign for Atlanta's iconic Criminal records).
Cute listening station in our fictional record shop.
We created "Papa Joe's" barbecue in an unoccupied storefront in downtown Atlanta, complete with cheerful pig/chef made out of an oil can.