Elisia Mirabelli has always loved film and found herself drawn to it from an early age. Different from most children, she didn’t simply see it as a way to entertain, she saw it as an artform and was drawn to the visual aspects that made up half of the movie-watching experience. She knew that she needed to be involved in that particular way of telling stories. Now, as a production designer, she creates full, lived in, and beautiful sets that stand out on both the big and small screens.
Having worked on celebrated television programs, such as the web series Night Owl and award-winning films like Pretty Thing and Let Me Down Easy, Mirabelli has become a leader in her industry in her home country of Canada. She has a natural talent and unparalleled drive, and knows she was always meant to be doing exactly what she is doing now.
“If you want to be a production designer, you need to start training yourself to look at your surroundings as if they were a set themselves. Pick up on patterns, textures, the placement of furnishings, the order of things. What makes a space visually interesting, unique, layered or mundane? Educate yourself on the history of design. Look at architecture focused materials, vintage magazines, television shows or family photos from the past. Think of the future. How are engineers, architects, or visual artists envisioning it? Keep your eyes open and your spirit curious. Familiarize yourself with your local hardware store. Touch everything it its aisles. Learn how to use a drill and a circular saw. Sketch out ideas. Know how to read floor plans and translate your musings into one,” she advised.
Working with DHX Media, Mirabelli has put her production design contributions on many successful projects for the popular Canadian network The Family Channel. From music videos to films to commercials, Mirabelli has shown her versatility with the network.
Many of these projects have had worldwide audiences, including the “Drowning in the Dark” music video for Josh Bogert. The music video promoted the musician’s new self-titled album and The Disney Channel original series Backstage.
The project called for a number of set designs, in camera effects and the prospect of working in an abandoned church. Mirabelli designed a string of sets, all taking place in the same location. Sets included a series of curved mirrors that created an in-camera effect when Josh danced in front of them, making it seem as if there were multiple versions of Josh moving in sync next to him. The most complicated set included a site comprised entirely out of 400 Edison bulbs, timed perfectly with our lighting department to dim and flicker at precise points in the song.
“Being a part of the team that aided Josh in launching his debut music video was really rewarding. To say that I was a part of the beginning of his journey as a solo artist feels really special,” said Mirabelli.
Once again working with The Family Channel, Mirabelli did the production design for a national commercial and collaboration with Columbia Pictures and The Family Channel, promoting both the newest Ghostbusters film and the popular series We are Savvy.
Mirabelli led the production design team on the commercial replicating the feel of the new film and using the cast from We are Savvy. She worked with an illustrator to design a series of original artwork inspired by the Ghostbusters franchise featured in the promo, worked with a special effects specialist to recreate the infamous Ghostbusters slime and was granted the opportunity to create a series of spooky ghostlike in camera effects that included work with a spider web machine.
“We are Savvy is a wonderful series for young girls that inspires them to discover who they are, and I was thrilled to work with the hosts of the series. Moreover, revisiting the aesthetic of Ghostbusters and bringing the look over a decade into the future while still retaining its charm was a production designers dream come true. The collaboration between the film and series felt like the perfect partnership in empowering young women,” she said.
This was not Mirabelli’s first time working with the cast from The Family Channel original series. Previously, Mirabelli had put her touch on the commercial Get Savvy With starring We are Savvy’s actors. At the time, the series was brand new, and the commercials took on the large task of attracting viewers. We Are Savvy’s online content has since generated 4 million plus views per video.
When creating the commercial, the first stage of the design process for Mirabelli was figuring out who each of the hosts are at their core. She created a series of sets that reflected the unique personalities of each of our young hosts. She and her team wanted the space to feel really lived in and close to them, so once the spaces were fully designed and decorated, each host had the opportunity to come onto set and play, moving things around, muddling them up, reordering knickknacks and pictures. The end result was captivating.
“We are Savvy has a really specific point of view that is rooted in the intricacies of each of its hosts. The series chose four young hosts whose interests, personalities and loves are completely distinctive from one another. Each host was designed her own unique set that reflected these differences. I was really interested in getting to the root of each of these girls’ personalities and crafting a space with care and attention to detail. Seeing them walk into each space, picking up on all of the elements we added in just for them, like their favorite band posters, prints, paintings, flowers, books and colors was really special,” Mirabelli described.
Mirabelli has continued her work with The Family Channel for many years, creating special Halloween content and a commercial for their ‘Everywhere’ app. Although it has been many years since she herself watched the network on a routine basis, she still feels nostalgic at the idea she has worked with them now.