Joe DeTullio

Production Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour interview, Joe DeTullio talks about his parents encouraging him to go into the arts, and his decision to become an architect. He describes working in various positions at CNBC, and later being accepted into NBC’s page program. He recounts his time as a page in multiple departments at NBC, and finally making his way to the design department at Saturday Night Live. He outlines his first years at Saturday Night Live as a coordinator, keeping track of reference materials and sketches, and later become a full-fledged production designer for the show. DeTullio speaks of the great pressures and challenges of doing production design for Saturday Night Live, given all of the last minute changes and time restraints. He details creating the “home base” set for the show, based on Grand Central Station, and outlines the mechanics and logistics of his job there. He breaks down the role of each member on the Saturday Night Live design team, and discusses his own personal methods and style. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 12, 2018 in Fairfield, CT.

In their two-hour, joint interview the Saturday Night Live Production Design Team, including Eugene Lee, Keith Raywood, Leo Yoshimura, and Joe DeTullio, talk about how each of them came to join the staff of Saturday Night Live. They recall designing the various “home base” sets for the show over the year, and consulting with executive producer Lorne Michaels for his input. The describe how the collaborate with each other, and with other departments on the show. They describe working with the various directors of the show, and on the unique challenges of doing production design for a live broadcast. They chronicle some of their favorite sets and most memorable moments, and working with the musical guests. Finally, they opine on why Saturday Night Live has endured, and speculate on how much longer they might stay with the show. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 17, 2017 in New York, NY.

"I'm not a production designer to be showcased. I’m there to support. We’re part of a team. It's really magical when it works because a team got together and everybody did their part. And sometimes it doesn’t work, but those moments when it does are exhilarating."

Highlights
Joe DeTullio on Saturday Night Live generally not recycling sets, and on the logistics of moving the sets in and out of the building and studio
03:43
Joe DeTullio on favorite sets he has designed for Saturday Night Live, including "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet"
04:44
Joe DeTullio on not using technology when designing, and drafting by hand
01:46
Joe DeTullio on production design being both an art form and a technical craft
03:37
Joe DeTullio on the evolution of the "home base" set of Saturday Night Live
03:21
Joe DeTullio on working with the production design team at Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with the stress of the job
04:53
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on being encouraged to work in the arts as a child; on forming his design aesthetic; on dealing with budgets
12:09
On his early aspirations to be an architect, the field in which he got his degree; on becoming a set designer for CNBC; on working in various positions at CNBC
13:55
On entering the NBC page program; on being assigned to work at Saturday Night Live, and on his various duties as an NBC page; on his initial impressions of Saturday Night Live when he began as a page there
14:03
On realizing he wanted to work at Saturday Night Live, and going to work in the press department; on being offered an acting role right after he started at Saturday Night Live
09:59
On his duties in the Saturday Night Live publicity department, and on showing interest in the design department; on making his way into the design department at Saturday Night Live; on working with the Saturday Night Live night crew, building sets for the show
11:51

Chapter 2

On his first year in the art department at Saturday Night Live and on reference materials he used in the days before the internet; on collecting and organizing reference materials and drawings for the Saturday Night Live art department
16:44
On Saturday Night Live generally not recycling sets, and on the logistics of moving the sets in and out of the building and studio; on a typical workweek for the art department of Saturday Night Live; on dividing up the work among the four main members of the Saturday Night Live art department
15:52
On overseeing the construction of the sets for Saturday Night Live; on generating the graphics needed for sketches on Saturday Night Live; on the use of duratrans on Saturday Night Live
08:56
On the challenge of making the art design as true to the original thing it's based on as possible with time restraints on Saturday Night Live; on working hard on a set, only to have the sketch cut before air on Saturday Night Live; on prioritizing which Saturday Night Live sets will be built first in a given week, and on the logistics of the job
12:55
On Stiegelbauer Associates being the scenic shop for Saturday Night Live, and on the carpenters who build the sets; on coordinating the trucks for delivery and unloading of sets for Saturday Night Live; on the great pressures and challenges of the Saturday Night Live art department, and on trying to accommodate all needs and requests from the creative team
10:25
On the importance of the team of carpenters who build the sets for Saturday Night Live; on his duties on show day for Saturday Night Live and on collaborating with his department; on how he enjoys working construction in the shop, as well as doing the design
06:12

Chapter 3

On the evolution of the "home base" set of Saturday Night Live; on designing the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live; on the challenge of getting the right light bulbs for the Grand Central Station themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live
14:34
On the music stage of the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live; on the clocks on the the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live; on elements he wanted to incorporate into his Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live but wasn't able to
15:00
On the longevity of his Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live, and on feedback on the design from Lorne Michaels and others; on the "home base" set's relationship to New York City
07:35
On favorite sets he has designed for Saturday Night Live, including "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet"; on the kinds of sketches he doesn't particularly like designing for on Saturday Night Live; on the Royal Wedding sketch from the season 43 finale of Saturday Night Live
12:42
On being nominated for Emmy Awards for Saturday Night Live; on what he enjoys about production designing for Saturday Night Live; on occasional budget limitations on Saturday Night Live
06:00
On the basic tools and material he uses in the craft of production design; on monitoring costs of materials and labor in production design for Saturday Night Live; on production design's interaction with other departments on Saturday Night Live
12:46
On production design being both an art form and a technical craft; on his longevity in his position on Saturday Night Live
05:56

Chapter 4

On a few non-Saturday Night Live related projects he has worked on; on working on the set for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and for various Broadway shows; on working on sets for local theatrical productions during his summers off from Saturday Night Live
13:37
On building models of the sets he wants to create; on not using technology when designing, and drafting by hand; on how he has evolved as a designer since he started and on his personal style
06:16
On his favorite design period; on the production design team at Saturday Night Live; on his dream projects
08:09
On career highlights; on working with the production design team at Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with the stress of the job; on advice to aspiring television production designers
08:51
On the importance of teamwork in production design; on how he would like to be remembered
03:52

Chapter 5

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE PRODUCTION DESIGN TEAM: Eugene Lee on how he came to join Saturday Night Live, and on his early experience with the show; on designing the Saturday Night Live home base set
15:59
On Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set; on the llama running joke on Saturday Night Live; Keith Raywood and Joe DeTullio on how they joined Saturday Night Live
15:47
On how the team functions together, and on a typical workweek for the team; on what makes working on Saturday Night Live production design unique
11:36
On their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live; on reusing old sets on Saturday Night Live; on dealing with the tight time constraints of Saturday Night Live, and on their biggest challenges
14:13

Chapter 6

On working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King; on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live; on their favorite sets, and on Saturday Night Live being live
12:19
On their longevity staying with Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with crazy weeks; on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on-air; on appearing in sketches on Saturday Night Live from time to time, and on the "Weekend Update" set
14:12
On the most fun sets to design for Saturday Night Live; on working with the musical guests on Saturday Night Live; on favorite sets they've worked on for Saturday Night Live
09:46
On continuing to work on Saturday Night Live; on the enduring popularity of Saturday Night Live, and on what keeps them working there
10:44
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Joe DeTullio on being nominated for Emmy Awards for Saturday Night Live
00:34

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
Joe DeTullio on working with the basic lack of budget restrictions for production design on Saturday Night Live
02:37
Joe DeTullio on being assigned to work at Saturday Night Live, and on his various other assignments as an NBC page
05:44
Joe DeTullio on his initial impressions of Saturday Night Live when he began as a page there
02:29
Joe DeTullio on realizing he wanted to work at Saturday Night Live, and going to work in the press department
02:32
Joe DeTullio on being offered an acting role right after he started at Saturday Night Live
07:27
Joe DeTullio on his duties in the Saturday Night Live publicity department, and on showing interest in the design department
04:52
Joe DeTullio on making his way into the design department at Saturday Night Live
03:13
Joe DeTullio on working with the Saturday Night Live night crew, building sets for the show
03:46
Joe DeTullio on his first year in the art department at Saturday Night Live and on reference materials he used in the days before the internet
06:30
Joe DeTullio on collecting and organizing reference materials and drawings for the Saturday Night Live art department
10:14
Joe DeTullio on Saturday Night Live generally not recycling sets, and on the logistics of moving the sets in and out of the building and studio
03:43
Joe DeTullio on a typical workweek for the art department of Saturday Night Live
07:16
Joe DeTullio on dividing up the work among the four main members of the Saturday Night Live art department
04:53
Joe DeTullio on overseeing the construction of the sets for Saturday Night Live
05:11
Joe DeTullio on generating the graphics needed for sketches on Saturday Night Live
02:10
Joe DeTullio on the use of duratrans on Saturday Night Live
01:35
Joe DeTullio on the challenge of making the art design as true to the original thing it's based on as possible with time restraints on Saturday Night Live
04:45
Joe DeTullio on working hard on a set, only to have the sketch cut before air on Saturday Night Live
03:56
Joe DeTullio on prioritizing which Saturday Night Live sets will be built first in a given week, and on the logistics of the job
04:13
Joe DeTullio on Stiegelbauer Associates being the scenic shop for Saturday Night Live, and on the carpenters who build the sets
05:00
Joe DeTullio on coordinating the trucks for delivery and unloading of sets for Saturday Night Live
01:18
Joe DeTullio on the great pressures and challenges of the Saturday Night Live art department, and on trying to accommodate all needs and requests from the creative team
04:07
Joe DeTullio on the importance of the team of carpenters who build the sets for Saturday Night Live
01:00
Joe DeTullio on his duties on show day for Saturday Night Live and on collaborating with his department
02:49
Joe DeTullio on how he enjoys working construction in the shop, as well as doing the design
02:23
Joe DeTullio on the evolution of the "home base" set of Saturday Night Live
03:21
Joe DeTullio on designing the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live
09:03
Joe DeTullio on the challenge of getting the right light bulbs for the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live
02:10
Joe DeTullio on the music stage of the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live
03:56
Joe DeTullio on the clocks on the the Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live
08:41
Joe DeTullio on elements he wanted to incorporate into his Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live but wasn't able to
02:21
Joe DeTullio on the longevity of his Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live, and on feedback on the design from Lorne Michaels and others
04:42
Joe DeTullio on the Saturday Night Live "home base" set's relationship to New York City
02:53
Joe DeTullio on favorite sets he has designed for Saturday Night Live, including "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet"
04:44
Joe DeTullio on the kinds of sketches he doesn't particularly like designing for on Saturday Night Live
02:14
Joe DeTullio on the Royal Wedding sketch from the season 43 finale of Saturday Night Live
05:44
Joe DeTullio on being nominated for Emmy Awards for Saturday Night Live
00:34
Joe DeTullio on occasional budget limitations on Saturday Night Live
01:10
Joe DeTullio on production design's interaction with other departments on Saturday Night Live
07:44
Joe DeTullio on his longevity in his position on Saturday Night Live
02:19
Joe DeTullio on working with the production design team at Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with the stress of the job
04:53
Eugene Lee on how he came to join Saturday Night Live, and on his early experience with the show
11:25
SNL Production Design Team on designing the Saturday Night Live home base set
03:00
SNL Production Design Team on Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set
04:44
SNL Production Design Team on the llama running joke on Saturday Night Live
02:03
Keith Raywood on how he became involved with Saturday Night Live, and on his role within the team
04:02
Joe DeTullio on how he joined Saturday Night Live
04:58
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical workweek
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on what makes working on Saturday Night Live production design unique
02:43
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on reusing old sets on Saturday Night Live
02:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with the tight time constraints of Saturday Night Live, and on their biggest challenges
10:17
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on their favorite sets, and on Saturday Night Live being live
04:44
SNL Production Design Team on their longevity staying with Saturday Night Live, and on dealing with crazy weeks
05:53
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:49
SNL Production Design Team on appearing in sketches on Saturday Night Live from time to time, and on the "Weekend Update" set
03:29
SNL Production Design Team on the most fun sets to design for Saturday Night Live
03:01
SNL Production Design Team on working with the musical guests on Saturday Night Live
04:15
SNL Production Design Team on favorite sets they've worked on for Saturday Night Live, and on assessing their job after a given show
02:30
SNL Production Design Team on continuing to work on Saturday Night Live
01:17
SNL Production Design Team on the enduring popularity of Saturday Night Live, and on what keeps them working there
09:27

Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The

View Show Page
Joe DeTullio on working on the set for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and for various Broadway shows
06:57
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on advice to aspiring television production designers
02:39

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on the production design team at Saturday Night Live
01:20

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on being nominated for Emmy Awards for Saturday Night Live
00:34

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on being offered an acting role right after he started at Saturday Night Live
07:27
Joe DeTullio on the production design team at Saturday Night Live
01:20

Pop Culture

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on the evolution of the "home base" set of Saturday Night Live
03:21

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on the use of duratrans on Saturday Night Live
01:35
Joe DeTullio on not using technology when designing, and drafting by hand
01:47

Television Industry

View Topic
Joe DeTullio on working with the basic lack of budget restrictions for production design on Saturday Night Live
02:37
Joe DeTullio on advice to aspiring television production designers
02:39
Professions

Designers

View Profession
Joe DeTullio on forming his design aesthetic
01:25
Joe DeTullio on learning to do production design within a certain budget
01:06
Joe DeTullio on overseeing the construction of the sets for Saturday Night Live
05:11
Joe DeTullio on the challenge of making the art design as true to the original thing it's based on as possible with time restraints on Saturday Night Live
04:45
Joe DeTullio on the great pressures and challenges of the Saturday Night Live art department, and on trying to accommodate all needs and requests from the creative team
04:07
Joe DeTullio on what he enjoys about production designing for Saturday Night Live
02:52
Joe DeTullio on making sure the sets he designs are safe
01:24
Joe DeTullio on the basic tools and material he uses in the craft of production design
03:00
Joe DeTullio on monitoring costs of materials and labor in production design for Saturday Night Live
02:01
Joe DeTullio on production design being both an art form and a technical craft
03:37
Joe DeTullio on building models of the sets he wants to create
02:04
Joe DeTullio on not using technology when designing, and drafting by hand
01:46
Joe DeTullio on how he has evolved as a designer since he started
01:26
Joe DeTullio on his design style
00:59
Joe DeTullio on his favorite design period
02:22
Joe DeTullio on the importance of teamwork in production design
01:17
Joe DeTullio on advice to aspiring television production designers
02:39
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical work week for the team
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:50

Production Designer

View Profession
Joe DeTullio on forming his design aesthetic
01:25
Joe DeTullio on learning to do production design within a certain budget
01:06
Joe DeTullio on overseeing the construction of the sets for Saturday Night Live
05:11
Joe DeTullio on the challenge of making the art design as true to the original thing it's based on as possible with time restraints on Saturday Night Live
04:45
Joe DeTullio on the great pressures and challenges of the Saturday Night Live art department, and on trying to accommodate all needs and requests from the creative team
04:07
Joe DeTullio on what he enjoys about production designing for Saturday Night Live
02:52
Joe DeTullio on making sure the sets he designs are safe
01:24
Joe DeTullio on the basic tools and material he uses in the craft of production design
03:00
Joe DeTullio on monitoring costs of materials and labor in production design for Saturday Night Live
02:01
Joe DeTullio on production design being both an art form and a technical craft
03:37
Joe DeTullio on building models of the sets he wants to create
02:04
Joe DeTullio on not using technology when designing, and drafting by hand
01:46
Joe DeTullio on how he has evolved as a designer since he started
01:26
Joe DeTullio on his design style
00:59
Joe DeTullio on his favorite design period
02:22
Joe DeTullio on the importance of teamwork in production design
01:17
Joe DeTullio on advice to aspiring television production designers
02:39
SNL Production Design Team on how the team functions together, and on a typical work week for the team
08:53
SNL Production Design Team on their process of collaborating with each other on Saturday Night Live
01:48
SNL Production Design Team on their interaction with various other departments on Saturday Night Live
03:06
SNL Production Design Team on dealing with last minute issues on Saturday Night Live, and on mishaps live on air
04:50
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Joe DeTullio on working in the art department at Saturday Night Live
01:11:04
Joe DeTullio on doing production design for Saturday Night Live
01:14:33

Talk Shows

View Genre
Joe DeTullio on working on the set for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and for various Broadway shows
06:57
People

Don Roy King

View Interview Page
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28

Beth McCarthy-Miller

View Interview Page
SNL Production Design Team on working with the directors of Saturday Night Live, including Dave Wilson, Paul Miller, Beth McCarthy-Miller, and Don Roy King
04:28

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
Joe DeTullio on the longevity of his Grand Central Station-themed "home base" set for Saturday Night Live, and on feedback on the design from Lorne Michaels and others
04:42
SNL Production Design Team on Lorne Michaels' input into the Saturday Night Live home base set
04:44

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