As Production Designer on Days of our Lives, Dan Olexiewicz knows how to construct a set. Yes! He is the man behind the famous Horton Town Square, one of the most popular sets used on the show and probably the largest. I mean who would not want to shop there with those unique stores? Or the new TBD Bar where everyone gathers to talk about their trials and tribulations, or plot their next move.
In layman's terms, Olexiewicz controls the designing of the sets. "Yes! I do (Laughing). I do the color scheme, I determine what kind of furniture will be used, and I collaborate with the set decorator giving me a feel of what needs to be done," he said. "I usually begin with a plan that is turned into a floor plan, and we go from there."
Olexiewicz said that he will receive a call from the Executive Producer, or Head Writer, to give him a heads up on what is upcoming storyline wise, and what will be needed. He then, in turn, gives them back several options.
Days of our Lives is known for it's fabulous sets like the DiMeara mansion with its beautiful stairs, or the Kiriakis estate with its gorgeous décor, each designed to look like they may be the home of a Statesman and giving the viewer the feeling that is the home you would like to visit.
"Sets are designed to look big, and that is part of my job," Olexiewicz said. "Sets today are designed to look bigger on the air. They are also designed for the lens of the camera to do its work. I also add height to the walls creating the illusion of a larger set."
Soapdom wants to know what is your favorite set that you designed? "I really enjoyed the recent set of the river, where Nick's (Blake Berris) body was thrown in. I used a stand up pool. I built the set and then brought in the trees to create the forest. It was a neat set."
Days of our lives can boast because they have one of the most iconic sets in television history and that is the Horton living room that has been on the show since its inception in 1965.
Olexiewicz said that over the years there have been slight modifications to that set, but nothing drastic. He also added that it is the most guarded and preserved set on the show. If the set needs to be taken down it is stored and secured and a photo catalog is used with shots to put it back up.
He added that on various sets there are some changes, like the change of season, or at the Horton Town Square, they may update the store windows, or try to perfect the latest trends.
The Horton Town Square is a fabulous set. (I visited it) The set is the show's largest and it has a certain charm. "One thing I wanted to do with this set is to make it new, but keep a part of the past," Olexiewicz said. "There is a stone with the pictures of the late Tom (Mc Donald Carey) and Alice (Frances Reid), the head of the Horton clan and Salem's most prominent citizens. I want to show the past, making it important to keep that, but also show the fact that life continues on."
Olexiewicz graduated college in design and said that he began doing custom home design, and he loves being creative and using his imagination. He then decided to branch out in to television and film, where he worked on the first Austin Powers film.
At Days of our Lives, he relies on a staff to get the work done, saying it is "a complete team effort." There are builders on set, people that order the needed materials, and whatever and whomever it takes to get the job done.
"I always design a set with a character in mind. If it is a bachelor, I want the set to look like a pad. If there is a child, I want that theme. It's sort of like fixing a real home."
Olexiewicz loves his behind the scenes job and said, "I get to live the dream. They write it, and I get to design it."
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