Rick Pickett (Graphic Designer)
MI.net: Let's see, props, more props. In "M.A.D." there was this flag from Chinatown, the Albacore Club.
Rick: Oh, the Albacore Club, yeah.
MI.net: Was that a shoutout to the movie Chinatown?
Rick: Yup, that was Rob's shoutout to it. Good call. [chuckles] You know what really irked me on that, though? If you look on the flag, it's only printed on one side. That aggravated me to no end. I'm like, [utter disbelief voice] "There's no such thing as a flag that doesn't have anything on the backside of it." So upset when I saw that. Because I never know...once I give it to the other hands of the people who are supposed to make it, I don't know until I actually sit down and watch it on Tuesday. [sarcastic voice] "Oh, that's how they did that final thing. Oh, that's wonderful. It doesn't look that good, sorry."
MI.net: So you watch the show too?
Rick: Yeah, I try to watch it. I don't like it because it's on network television. It could be such a powerful show, and so gritty, and cutting-edge if we could have that PG-13 approach. I'm not saying we need to see T & A, and a bunch of gratuitous sex or cursing and everything. But, I mean, Keith is a detective who's had to protect Veronica numerous times. That whole final fight scene, which I think they choreographed the fighting...that was one of he more realistic fight scenes that I've seen in a long time. I give mad props to the stunt coordinator, the director, and everyone, and the actors. But I would just love to see it just push that extra step. I mean, I've had to, on an escort ad, I had to put a little graphic over a woman's navel. [censorship-sucks voice] "Are you kidding me?!"
MI.net: A navel?
Rick: "Okay, guys, I'm glad we're in Sunday school right now. It's a navel. Everyone's got one."
MI.net: Is that notes from the studio?
Rick: That's more like the larger studios, CBS and Warner Brothers. Those are the people who are going to take the fall if the FCC fines indecency.
MI.net: The truck in the finale that hit Aaron, it had Thomas on it.
Rick: Thomas flowers.
MI.net: Was that a shoutout to Rob?
Rick: Yup, that was my little shoutout to him. That's good. You guys do definitely pay attention to this stuff.
MI.net: I told you we pay attention. So now we know who did it.
Rick: My job has value! Yaaayy! [chuckles]
[Editor's note: Our eagle-eyed obsessiveness has value! Yaaayy!]
MI.net: Did Rob know you were doing that or you just kind of snuck it in?
Rick: I'm pretty sure we actually snuck it in. And no one even said anything about it, like who was with the production company. That was between Alfred and I, but I'm trying to think back, I'm pretty sure I'm the one who suggested it. And we thought it would be funny like, "There's Aaron getting hit by the creator." Oh, if you notice, the flower is a lily.
MI.net: Yeah, we noticed that too.
Rick: Okay, cool. That was the writers, putting the lily on it. But we drew the Thomas on there.
MI.net: We also noticed the other one where you guys put Slave Rats Productions on the back of that playbill for that fake actor.
Rick: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. [chuckles] Oh, man. Back in the day, geez.
MI.net: Scary what fans pay attention to, huh?
Rick: Nah, it's fun. It's cool to see and to find out that we have an audience that is really passionate about it. And attempted and succeeded in saving the show and whatnot. That was fun. I have a "Veronica Mars is my homegirl" shirt that the costume designer made for everyone. I wear that around, when I'm out and about. I have a Zig-Zag Sports Gym shirt that I made that I got back from props. And people come up to me and they're like, "Oh, I love that show." I'm like, "Oh, really?" "Yeah, my girlfriends and I, we get together every Tuesday and watch it. It's really fun."
MI.net: On one of the websites, was it an anti-Bush thing where it said, "We like to highlight the pride and service of honoring your country. We're also lacking the intelligent people needed to properly guide this country in the modern age."
Rick: [What-did-you-just-say voice] Wait, what was that on?
MI.net: On one on the websites on Neptune High, I forget which episode, but it said, "We are lacking the intelligent people needed to properly guide this country in the modern age."
Rick: [having-a-heart-attack voice] Oh my god, you actually saw that?
Rick: I plead the Fifth.
[Editor's note: Rick, sorry about the heart attack, but your response was the Best. Reponse. Ever.]
MI.net: Yeah. And there's recurring props. One week they do an audition for Cabaret, then a few weeks later, you see the poster still on the wall.
Rick: Oh, yeah, that's people not communicating well. And not removing the posters that need to come down. I don't know whose fault that really is, because we have so much stuff to do every day, that those little things are forgotten. And I'll walk down to the set, and I'll look at something: "Guys, we've done four episodes with the same posters. Can you guys take it down?"
MI.net: Actually, the fans like it. We just assume it's like a typical high school. Because sometimes in high schools, they leave stuff on for months and months at a time.
Rick: Well, that too in some ways. For the outside kiosk, we leave stuff up a lot. I'll try if I have that time and ability to apply mind to that, knowing what else I have to do...I try to look at the script and say, "Okay, the last script seemed to end this time of the year. This script seems to be still very close to the same time in Veronica's life, so these things can stay up." Or, "Whoa, we just jumped about a month down the road so there's definitely going to be some Christmas things, so we've got to get rid of everything Thanksgiving-looking." That type of stuff. I'll try to be more on the ball this year. [both chuckle]
MI.net: People are paying attention!
Rick: Do you guys have any requests as to sports or whatnot? I know that more females watch it, and I am a guy, so obviously the guy things come to me faster. [deep manly voice] "Oh, I can make a football banner. Okay. Make a baseball banner." I've been trying to get more girls' stuff on just so you guys can feel more happy about, [raising-the-roof-getting-jiggy-with-it voice] "The females are being represented."
MI.net: I don't know. Do you take suggestions?
Rick: I'd love to. Or at least take suggestions so that I can think about it. So if you guys want to e-mail me, that would be great.
MI.net: Yeah, we could do that.
Rick: "I really think there should be a poetry club that has the flyers around, or we'd like to see this play being auditioned for, or such and such a thing."
MI.net: We could probably add a poll or contest to our site.
Rick: Give me a heads up and I'll try my best to make it happen.
MI.net: That would be cool. To have the fans' ideas appear on the props.
Rick: Heck yeah. It'll save me some time. At times I have to sit there and go, "Okay, I have to brainstorm yet another thing."
[Editor's note: If you guys have any prop suggestions that you would like to pass onto Rick, write them down in the comment section at the end of the interview.]
MI.net: Yeah, like "What would go inside a girl's bathroom? I've never been in a girl's bathroom."
Rick: Yeah, exactly.
MI.net: Some of the props have dates on it. Do you have a hard time keeping track of it?
Rick: Those are quite...I try to shy away from actual dates. Sometimes I can be generic and say, "October." Usually what I'll do on flyers is, "This Friday. This Monday." That way we can either a) reuse it lots of times or b) it doesn't throw off the whole plot. Just because there's one little thing: "Wait, it's not May. It's totally fall still."
But there are things that in order for me to sell it to the audience, like for the prom banner, they are going to have a date and time on a prom banner. And people were arguing with me about it. I'm going, "No. They're going to do it, so we really need to figure out what date we're shooting right now. Are we in May? Are we in April? Well, if it's prom, it's most likely going to be May, guys." Dates are difficult. I try to look at, "Okay, when is this going to play? What is going on in the script? Are the two separate? Are there any conflicts between the two? Are they on par?" Well, if they are I feel more comfortable saying, "Okay, I can throw September 3rd in there." Or when it's Christmas, "Okay, I can put December on something."
MI.net: We notice that too. We'll nitpick that stuff too. "Wait, that scene had a date of May 3rd, but the later scene had a date of May 1st. Uh, nitpick."
Rick: [sigh] Yeah.
MI.net: That's the problem with using dates.
Rick: Yeah, and also the order that they'll shoot some things....Because sometimes they might actually take, depending on how tied in it is to the storyline, they might take a scene that was originally written to be one of the first scenes, and move it all the way to the back. Sometimes on the day of the shoot. And the editing room of course has their own little world. I'm sure I've been burned on that sometimes.
MI.net: The yearbook with Lianne and Jake, how come the guy was named Victoria?
Rick: [laugh] There's a dude who was in one of those things named Victoria?
MI.net: Uh-huh, it was right next to Lianne's picture and it's a guy, but they named him Victoria.
Rick: Oh, you know what, that's actually a girl.
MI.net: That's a girl?
Rick: Maybe. Let me double check. I'll look back at it. One of our friends who did a lot of the photography stuff for Veronica's wall in her bedroom, before I got there, she gave us some pictures because she's from that time. She gave us her high school pictures, and we put her really close to the hero photo, because I wanted to give her a shoutout. It'd be like, "Hey, there's your photo on national TV." I want to open up that file again and look at it and double check. And you said it was the one where Lianne is in the picture?
MI.net: Yeah, because there is a girl next to her with brunette hair, and then there's a guy.
Rick: And this is Victoria? [panic voice] Oh, no.
MI.net: And the fans are like, "Why is there a guy named Victoria?"
Rick: I take full responsibility for that, if that is the case. Whoops. That's the other problem. As opposed to a real graphic...I'm not saying I'm not a real graphic designer, but a graphic designer in the industry of advertising and those type of businesses, they have so much time and so many eyes that are nitpicking the details. I have to be the one who has to pretty much nitpick all of it. And if you have any experience editing your own stuff, you glaze over so much. You can read it in detail as much as you want, but you're still going to miss it, so little things like that....And also, if I prepare a prop, and show it to the director, and they want me to change it, I'll change it. And sometimes when I'm not diligent enough, I forget that, "Okay, that also changes this part, which ties into that part." Well, you guys caught me on that one.
MI.net: It's okay. It was just one of those fun things: "What?! What?!"
Rick: I wish I could say I did it on purpose.
MI.net: But it was just a whoops.
Oh yeah, they showed a computer screen of Sam Mackenzie, Mac's dad, and Sam Bloom. They had the exact same magazine subscriptions. Were you just kind of being lazy?
Rick: [chuckles] That was probably being lazy. Also I didn't think that they would show that on the screen, actually. So I just put it in as N.D. and just copy stuff over. "Okay, magazine subscriptions, sure. There you go." Because the other problem is that I have to sit there and create fake magazine names, and sometimes I also don't have the time to then also clear those names. So I try to make them as generic as possible. And if my brain is not functioning, coming up with more names is just too much of a rack to my neurons. I end up going, "Ah, screw it. Copy. Paste. Done."
I'll pay more attention to that especially since I've got more Prying Eyez stuff that I have to do this week. And also, I've been thinking about trying to revamp the Prying Eyez site because...it's okay. I wish I could...it was one of the first things I did. I can't guarantee that it's going to change or not, because I don't know if I have that time to be able to have that luxury. If I do, I'll try to, you know, [surfer voice] shimmy it up a little bit.
MI.net: There are two instances where the props contradict the backstories. Is there anyone who checks for that? You said it's basically your fault if that happens.
Rick: It depends sometimes. We do have a propmaster who's basically in charge of all the props. Do you have any examples?
MI.net: There was one where they showed Lilly's speeding ticket. They showed a photo, but she was driving a Jeep.
Rick: Oh, yeah, yeah, I know what you are talking about. That's probably someone not letting me know that, "Oh, she's going to be driving this type of car." Because sometimes I won't even see half of the other props. Sometimes I don't even see the final stuff that I designed until I see it, and I'm going, "You guys could have called me and let me know that it looked like that because I would have just done something about it." This season I've tried to really make sure that, "Okay, this needs to be double checked. Let's do this. I don't want to have any screw-ups." Because then it just takes more time for me to have to go fix it.