Whether you’re into the show or not, a behind the scenes look at AMC’s Hell on Wheels is particularly interesting. The show’s a contemporary Western about an ex-Confederate solider who winds up helping construct the Union Pacific Railroad’s first transcontinental railroad, so timely set pieces and costumes are abound.
Executive producer and director David Von Ancken touches on one of the show’s prime assets, their ability to rent 15,000 acres and, as Von Ancken points out in the video, 15,000 is a ton of land. Director of photography Marvin Rush piggybacks on the comment, noting the endless horizon the piece of land offers, something that lends itself to the visuals of building this cross-country railroad.
The video also touches on the visual effects involved, particularly the location’s “gritty” and “lived-in” look. The set construction required quite a bit of research to ensure they had the locations and people necessary to make the town feel real. And that’s where set decorator Paul Healy comes in. Healy’s in charge of actually putting everything together, taking the art department’s structures and designs and making them feel like a real world by adding elements to them.
Want to check it all out for yourself? Take a look at the behind-the-scenes video below and be sure to catch Hell on Wheels when it airs on AMC Sunday night at 10/9c.