Mr Flibble Talks To... Mummified Penguin
As filming continues on action-sequel Mummy II, multiple Oscar-winning set decorator Peter Young settles down with his penguin pal to talk about Tim Burton, dead bodies and a lot of James Bond's left over gold...
9 February, 2001
Peter Young
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard


How does the role of set decorator work?

The production designer is supposed to be the eyes of the director, and the set decorator is supposed to be the eyes of the production designer. The production designer is overall responsible for the look of the film and selects a set decorator and a supervising art director to collaborate with.

The supervising art director is responsible for administering drawings and the sets to be built, whereas the set decorator is then responsible, with the prop man and the prop master, to administer the 'look' and 'texture' of the film. The set decorator is responsible to the production designer - and, indeed, the director - and is responsible for everything that you see on the screen other than actors and what they're wearing. But anything else on the screen - animals, greenery, vehicles - comes under the responsibility of the set decorator.

So how did you become involved in that area?

When I was a small boy I lived with my parents in Denham and I said to my mother one day, 'Come with me! There's a lady sitting on a lion's feet!' And she said, 'It's not true.' And I took her through the woods and it transpires that we were living next to Denham studios. They were making Caesar and Cleopatra (1946) with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh. And I was hooked, and I've never done anything else.

I came out of art school and I started work in the BBC at Wood Lane. I was in the post room first, and from the post room I went to the print room, and then I went in a thing called SDU - which is the Studio Design Unit. That's where I started.