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10 Things You Didn't Know About "Desperate Housewives" And "Manhunt: Unabomber" Production Designer Erik Carlson

If you're a big fan of Desperate Housewives, Manhunt: Unabomber, or SIX, you have Erik Carlson to thank for that! Erik is the production designer for those shows, and is responsible for their sets, stunts, visual effects, props, graphics, lighting, and locations (and those are just the basics). I got the chance to learn a little more about Erik and his favorite things about his legendary, exciting, and demanding job. Here are 10 things you didn't know about Erik!

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2. His favorite easter egg is to slip his little sister's name into the background of the shows he works on.


Her name as been on doctors office doors, police stations, FBI most wanted lists, even tombstones and memorials. She gets a kick out of it!

3. Erik's favorite shows include Mr. Robot, Sense 8, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones.


"I love television, I love the long format that it provides and the content has gotten so incredible. Some TV shows I’ve been binging on Sundays are Mr. Robot, Sense 8, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, all visually stunning shows! The last film I saw was Blade Runner 2049 and I’m still having dreams about it!"

4. He wants people to know production design is more than just building sets...


"Production design is not only about designing sets. A designer is involved in most aspects of a show, like stunts, visual effects, props, picture vehicles, video playback, graphics, lighting, locations, etc., and there are always budgets and politics involved. Some of it is difficult, but a lot of it is what makes television production so exciting. Being adaptable and open to constant change is a television designer’s biggest asset, I think."

5. His favorite part of working on Desperate Housewives was its huge fanbase!

Peter Stone / AP

"It was fun working on a show that people were such fans of, and knowing that 15 million people a week were seeing our work. Even our vendors would be excited to help out and see if they could get some show memorabilia 'for their wives.'"

6. Erik's favorite part about working on Unabomber and SIX was working with the awesome technical advisors.


"What I've enjoyed most about SIX and Unabomber has been working with the technical advisors: some real Navy SEALs for SIX and the real James Fitzgerald for Unabomber. It has been incredible and eye-opening listening to their stories! I really had a great time showing Jim the FBI offices and Ted's Cabin that we built for the show. He's still with the "Natalie" character we show in the series, and they had a blast taking photos of each other on our stage set of Ted's Cabin."

7. You can see his great work on the History channel this spring, or on Netflix and Hulu.


Manhunt: Unabomber is now available on Netflix and season 2 of SIX is scheduled to start airing the beginning of March! (SIX Season 1 is on Hulu now.)

8. His favorite thing about his job is doing the research.


"I love doing research, so it's great that every show is different. One show can be about housewives in a utopian suburbia, the next about the CIA, and the one after that about Navy SEALs or the Unabomber! Part of the research process is also being able to scout many fascinating and sometimes bizarre places that aren't always open to the public, like the CIA in Langley or tunnels under Vancouver, or derelict cement factories in North Carolina."

9. Before Erik was a production designer, he built log cabins.

Corey Dwan / Via

"In high school my first job was working for a landscaping company. My first job out of college was building log cabins in Crested Butte, Colorado. My first job in the industry was working in the art department on a pilot for CBS called Buddy Faro, with Dennis Farina and Frank Whaley. The production designer on that pilot won the Emmy for Art Direction that year for that show."

10. He's got some pretty great production designer influences.

Columbia Pictures

"When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was very lucky to meet and work for an incredible production designer and mentor named Thomas Walsh, who I worked with for nearly a decade. I have always been motivated and influenced by many of the great production designers in film, like Lawrence Paull, Eugenio Zanetti, Alex McDowell, John Barry and Ken Adam, but there are so many incredible designers now in both film and TV!"

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