Awards Daily talks to the crafts behind Peacock’s Girls5Eva about how they created some of the most memorable moments of Season 2.
Girls5Eva is BACK and they’re in Album Mode! In Season 2 of the critically acclaimed comedy from Meredith Scardino, the girls are hard at work on their comeback album. But of course they encounter some challenges along the way like six-week time constraints, busted knees, and Beatles’ homages gone wrong.
The crafts behind the series—including cinematographer John Inwood, costume designer Matthew Hemesath, production designer Mylene Santos, hair department head Takisha Sturdivant, and makeup department head Ande Yung—talk to Awards Daily about how they all worked together to make these memorable Season 2 moments.
Episode 1 “Album Mode” – “Momentum”
In the first episode of the second season, the girls are set to perform a stripped-down performance of their new song “Momentum” before calling an audible when they discover that they’re actually performing for the attention of the Property Brothers’ label.
“Second season, you see them together almost all of the time,” says cinematographer John Inwood. “That can be a big challenge and an opportunity. Four beautiful ladies that need to look their best all the time. With the hair, makeup, costuming, and my wonderful lighting and camera crew, we joined forces and we decided we’d cross cover the four ladies [cameras shooting almost at each other to get both sides of a conversation], which is challenging on the lighting and camera side. But it worked so well to capture the magic and energy of the performances. It was a maturing of the show and pushing the limits more.”
Production designer Mylene Santos says they had to consider the space for the “Momentum” set.
“We had quite a bit of trouble finding a location that looked small enough to act like a small intimate event space which was scripted,” says Santos, “yet large enough to accommodate the whole shooting crew during COVID times that would adhere to the safety protocols. The location that we ended up with was pretty large. In order to make the space appear smaller on camera, we ended up bringing in all the set dressing closer to the stage. We also made sure when we created the talent showcase banner that hung behind the girls on stage, that it was printed on a fabric that did not reflect John’s [Inwood] lighting, since the existing stage was small with low ceilings.
Makeup head Ande Yung talks about the nervousness of this being the first performance of the season.
“There was a lot of expectation, because it was our first big performance look. We talked to wardrobe and hair and came up with something that worked really nicely together and was complimentary to the movements they had to make.”
Like Yung, costume designer Matthew Hemesath was also a newcomer to Girls5Eva in Season 2.
“It’s a privilege to dress these women and tell this story,” says Hemesath. “We had just done closet fittings. ‘Album Mode’ was the first episode and I had the luxury of having a big closet to choose from. I wanted to ask the question, ‘What if it’s like a sparkly garden?’ And then we found Busy’s dress, which had sequins which was perfect.”
And of course, this is the scene where Gloria (Paula Pell) does a death drop, resulting in her needing surgery—although she looks great doing it!
“I wanted to bring fun hairstyles into this season for her,” says hair department head Takisha Sturdivant. “Since she had so many fun outfits, I just went with that when it came to her hair. Creativity was a big part with her clearly.”
Episode 1: Gloria’s Percocet Trip
After Gloria (Paula Pell) forgoes surgery and takes a bunch of Percocet pills before a podcast, she has to climb a very, VERY, high staircase.
“Jeff Richmond directed the season opener,” says cinematographer Inwood. “He immediately approached me about this scene. We came up with that shot where we cut to Tate (Grey Henson) at the top of the stairs, but we cut to him in a medium shot, and then we do a snap zoom out. He feels a little far away, but it doesn’t tip it because it happens so quick and he drops the Chapstick. So you end up on this really wide lens at the foot of the stairs that accentuates the distance. It really works well and that’s a great episode.”
Then, of course after Gloria takes a bunch of Percocet pills, she has a reaction, resulting in her “P-E-R-C-O-C-E-T” song in the same vein as Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
“Jeff came to me and asked about that whole sequence,” says Inwood. “‘We want her to float.’ We did this whole rig where we laid track and we had a dolly with a little trailer that she could sit on, like a little choo choo train, and we pulled her through. The whole crew was in hysterics while we were shooting that shot.”
Makeup head Yung had to make sure that her makeup looked as clean as possible since they were going to be zooming in super close on her eyes and face.
“But that was all Paula. That’s acting and her doing her thing. She’s such a pro. I’m so glad she’s in front of the camera now because she’s such a talent.”
Episode 2 “Triumphant Return to the Studio” – “Set”
Production designer Mylene Santos says that the “Set” set was her absolute favorite set (we got three sets in there!).
“[Showrunner] Meredith (Scardino) first provided me with her references and inspirations, and specifically asked for a lounge-y leather sofa, so it started there,” says Santos. “She didn’t want the girls in a super fancy professional studio, since they were just starting up again. So we went for the mid-range level. I researched so many in midtown Manhattan and pulled various detailed images. I was inspired by the way you can control the sound by angling walls and soffits, and covering all the surfaces with different textured materials like wood, brick, foam, fabrics, and carpeting, all used to absorb the sound.”
In Santos’s mind, in order to sell the mid-level look, the studio would be a hodgepodge of different time periods depending on when they had cash to upgrade. So the studio incorporated different materials and decor from different eras (including wood paneling and wall carpeting from the ’70s, lighting from the ’80s, graphics from the ’90s).
“Jeff Richmond, our producer and music composer, was also so generous with his expertise, and specifically helped set decorator Jen Greenberg and Tom Gough, our Leadman, dress it with all the required technical equipment needed for a real-life studio. Katy Rusch, the art director, and Will Stenzil, our construction coordinator, did an incredible job building that set along with our other standing sets in the short time allotted. I also have to credit Brandon McNeel and Adrienne Carlile, our assistant art directors, with helping me draw up the plans. It truly takes a team effort to create a beautiful set such as this!”
Episode 7 “Returnity” – Beatles’ Rooftop Disaster
Wickie (Renee Elise Goldsberry) enlists her new lunchlord boyfriend Sheawn (Chad L. Coleman) to help her come up with an idea that “normal” people would love when it comes to promoting Girls5Eva. The girls end up performing on a dreary New York rooftop, ala the Beatles, and despite the weather, it’s one of the most beautiful moments of the season. The women and their colorful outfits pop against the grey backdrop.
“That was one of my favorite scenes,” says costume designer Hemesath. “It goes with that joyful feeling I wanted it to have. I knew it would probably be a grey New York day. We had to think, ‘What might they have in their closets [on such short notice]?’ The idea was a little nod to the ’60s and we also had a bunch of cool stuff in their closet that we didn’t know if we’d ever use it, like Gloria’s coat.”
Cinematographer Inwood calls the scene a “happy accident.”
“I loved that fog,” says cinematographer Inwood. “It’s like you’re recalling the Beatles performing in London. I love that scene. We embraced it, although we worried about rain, but we got it in.”
“Wasn’t it so fun?!” adds production designer Santos. “We added that ‘H’ circular helipad. Since we weren’t allowed to paint on the actual location rooftop, we had a piece of linoleum printed with the letter ‘H’ on it and laid that down, under the other sound equipment and amps we dressed in. Jessie Leo Poole, our graphic artist, along with Paul Robotti, our charge scenic, did a fantastic job making it look like it was actually part of the existing rooftop.”
“Oh my god,” says makeup lead Yung. “It was really windy and rainy and cloudy, but when it’s overcast, it’s some of the most beautiful lighting. We tried to do little nods here and there to the Beatles’ album while keeping it modern and still elevated for the performance, because they’re doing a YouTube performance on a rooftop.”
“When I read the script and saw the clothes,” says hair department head Sturdivant, “I, of course, wanted them all to look different with varying shapes and texture. I wanted that glamorous chic look and that’s exactly what they gave. I always looked forward to planning and going over the look with my hair team. They were all amazing at creating and nailing the looks we envisioned.”
Episode 8 “Tour Mode” – “Bend Not Break”
While they started the season performing in contrasting colors, in the season finale, the girls unite in red for “Bend Not Break,” which demonstrates how far they’ve come over the course of the season.
“I talked about it with Meredith Scardino,” says costume designer Hemesath. “I think it was in the script that they’d wear red, since the event was sponsored by State Farm.” However, while the color red made Hemesath nervous, he eventually came around to it. “I realized that this was gonna look amazing. At this point in the story, this is a step above anything they’d done before.”
As someone who has a background in theater, Hemesath also likes to work with other departments, like talking to the director of photography to make sure all the “reds” went together.
“We wanted to shoot it dynamically,” says cinematographer Inwood of the finale. “It was a huge ambitious day. You have to capture Collab [the rival group] and then the competing singer, so we tried to create a lighting design for each of them. There are certain colors I like to work with with Girls5eva that are flattering and capture their energy, like purples, lavenders, and dashes of red. Whereas the competing singer, we gave him this green/blue color scheme that completely separates the two of them, a totally different energy. He’s this dark complaining personality,” laughs Inwood.
“We knew what the color palette was in advance,” says makeup lead Yung. “Matthew our costume designer is so wonderful about sharing information as far in advance as we possibly can, so we were able to do a cohesive look with some glitter and smoked-out and purples and golds, so that really helped to tie it together. It was one of their final performances, so we just hit them with a stick. You can tell they feel good. When the actors feel good, you just know it and can feel it. It’s palpable.”
“The clothes brought the hair to life for me,” says hair lead Sturdivant. “Plus, they all are different and had to have special hairstyles. Gloria’s hairstylist loves the big bold hairstyles and that’s what she got! Wickie had two long braids because it went with the clothes.”
Production designer Santos, who served as art director for the “Bend Not Break” set, says that they only had one day to prep this particular location.
“We had three sets to install in that space, including the stage and backstage sets,” says Santos. “I would say getting everything prebuilt, loaded in, assembled, painted, and dressed, alongside prepping with the other grip and lighting depts, was quite challenging. We had to tightly orchestrate what each dept was doing in each space at each time during the day in order to get everything done.”
But in the end, everything came together, just like the girls on the show came together for a showstopping performance.
“The show always has a lot of performances,” says cinematographer Inwood, “but the level of them is heightening and keeps getting higher. In the second season, we did some incredible performances. It’s a great show to shoot. You know you’re on a good show when the crew tells you this is the show that everyone wants to be on in New York.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of Girls5Eva are streaming on Peacock.