For a native New Englander, it feels sacrilege that the village of Salem never really held my attention during those field trips as a wee bairn, especially taking into consideration your author’s teenaged goth phase (my obsession with The Craft was real, you guys). Still, burning people at the stakes, mass hysteria, plagues and other terrible illnesses, and all that Puritanical stuff didn’t really appeal. It just sounded like a real bummertown. But teenaged fascination with witchcraft sent me down a path where there was, at least, an appreciation of the witchy worries of the people of Salem, which is at least partially why I ended up agreeing to head to the set of the new horror-drama TV show Salem in the first place. Once a teen witch, always a teen witch.
Fast forward a few years to March of this year. I’m standing in the middle of a replica of Salem village, getting strapped into the stockades, and l-o-v-i-n-g it. Not because I enjoy mocking the trials and tribulations of the dead, but because the Salem found in Shreveport, Louisiana — home of the televised take on the town on WGN America’s Salem — is a freaking spectacle of the most impressive, Renaissance Faire-esque proportions.
Now, there are myriad reasons why a show like Salem might appeal to you, and plenty of reasons to watch. Be it the strong female antiheroes at the story’s center, a love of witches, the truly — and I mean truly — horrific (horror fans: you’re going to love this show) imagery that pervades its storytelling, or the mythical twist the series takes on these true-life events, Salem has many good things going for it. But my biggest takeaway from the entire trip was the passion and, dare I say it, obsession that oozes out of every nook, cranny, and pore (be it man or beast!) of the entire production. These guys really, really know what they’re doing — and are super passionate about it. And isn’t that the hallmark of every good thing taken under the wing of nerddom?
While on the set I spoke briefly with the production designer, Seth Reed, and his enthusiasm for the project was undeniable. “I wanted to bring texture and authenticity into every detail to bring it to life,” he explained. (I could’ve asked him questions for hours.) Using a staff of 125 carpenters to bring the 25 buildings to life — in just two months to boot — I think it’s safe to say his work resulted in a massive success. I mean, they light the whole place by torch and candlelight, for pete’s sake! And the result is a — not to sound corny or anything but damn, is it appropriate — feast for the eyes and — when you’re in it — a delight for the senses.
My words alone can’t really do the whole thing justice, though. (Plus it might send me into a sort of hyperbolic tailspin.) After all, when one considers the fact that the village was built not just as exteriors but as places that housed actual working sets, in the style of 1692 Colonial America on 28 acres of a rural farm, there’s little words can do to recreate the aura and expansiveness. So being the intrepid documentor that I am, I took a bunch of photos in order to share them all with you. Click through to see the work yourself.
Salem premieres on WGN America tonight, Sunday, April 20th, at 10/9c. Will you be tuning in? Let us know in the comments!