How to build a Trailer Park Boys set in 12 days

‘It's a collaborative effort. Whatever gets the biggest laugh makes it in'

Published on July 31, 2013
Trailer Park Boys production designer Nicole Frosst had 12 days to design the show's set, which is located in Bible Hill Estates trailer park in Bible Hill. Ricky's car, which is parked in front of his trailer, is the original car from season one of the show.

BIBLE HILL - In a perfect world, Nicole Frosst says she would have four weeks to pull together the set for Trailer Park Boys.

For the filming of the show's eighth season this summer at Bible Hill Estates trailer park, the production designer only had 12 days to take five empty trailer lots and turn them into homes for Ricky, Julian and Bubbles.

Despite the challenges of her schedule, Frosst says she and her seven-person set design team were lucky to have found Bible Hill Estates because its wide lanes, big lots and rows and rows of trailers make for an ideal place for the Trailer Park Boys to hang their hats for six weeks.

"It sort of feels like we are contained in a little bubble at this park," she explained.

"You can turn around 360 degrees and there are trailers all around you and just the sky above. You really can't find trailer parks like this in the Halifax-Dartmouth area anymore."

It all started with five empty lots and two derelict trailers - those ingredients formed the bare bones set Frosst and her team began with. From there, the carpentry and safety team came in to make the trailers structurally sound.

"These trailers were basically broke-down tinfoil boxes," she explained. "Once we got in and started shooting on a rainy day we realized they were leaking all over the place. There's actually a lot of work that goes in to get them safe for the actors because say Julian has a party in his trailer, we have to make sure it can hold 25 people or so and that trailer isn't going to tip over."

As for the props in Frosst's set design, the devil is in the details. Using Ricky's living room, which is actually on the yard outside his trailer, as an example, she explained how she likes to use a variety of textures when she imagines up the set.

"As you can see, Ricky's basically pulled his living room outside, so we needed a place for him to cook," she said, pointing out a shelf outside his trailer with a microwave, toaster oven and a few dishes.

"This is really an arts and crafts show. When we go out and look for props we think to ourselves, ‘what would Ricky use?' If we come back with something shiny and new, we've got to explain it somehow, or else it's going to stand out."

Frosst has been involved with the Trailer Park Boys since the beginning of the series, when she worked as the costume designer.

She has a background in design and when Mike Smith, the actor who plays Bubbles and one of her oldest friends from primary school in New Glasgow, got involved with the project, he asked her to come on board.

Frosst said the process of building a set starts with a stack of scripts and ends up with a liaison with Rob Wells, John Paul Trembley and Mike Smith.

"It's a collaborative effort, really," she said. "Whatever gets the biggest laugh makes it in."

Filming in Truro has afforded Frosst other benefits as well because, as she puts it, the town is "untainted" by other film productions, therefore an untapped resource.

"We've found a lot of really great stuff, stuff that we wouldn't necessarily have been able to find in the Halifax area," she said.

"The second-hand stores have been really great, really we've found nothing but great love. John Ross & Sons has been great; we've found a million things there. Actually, there have been days we've been down to our last couple bucks and the boys down there have just given us what we need and told us to return it when we're done. I mean, who does that?"

Frosst said she and the rest of the Trailer Park Boys crew appreciate the hospitality they have received in and outside of Bible Hill Estates.

"We have tried to be really respectful. We don't do too many night shoots, try not to use the ‘f' word when there's kids around," she said. "I mean this is a real, functioning trailer park. This is their home."

Watch an exclusive interview with Bubbles and Julian on set at Bible Hill Estates here