In the episode, Brian found himself at a party decorated as only another NZT-enhanced mind could do. The entrance included a stunning tunnel made entirely of straws.
Actually, there was one other way to make it all happen: harnessing the creative powers of artist Patrick Martinez and the logistical wizardry of Limitless Production Designer Sarah Frank.
Frank explained how they turned this NZT fantasy into a reality, along with an exclusive behind-the-scenes video showing how the set was made.
Q: How long did it take and h ow many different people worked to build the straw tunnel?
FRANK: Because the time frame was so short to install the piece (which was 14’ x 18’ and 8’ high), we had my great dressing team pre-assemble the elements with Patrick overseeing the work. We had 10 dressers for four days at the stage working on the project, and the same dressers installing on location for two days.
Q: How many straws were used?
FRANK: 27,625! When the crew got to the set everyone was in awe, including Jake. We had a contest to see who could guess how many straws and the closest was 28,000.
Q: How did you come up with and design this set?
FRANK: Jenny Alex, the decorator on Limitless, was at a trade show at the Javits Center scouting out cool furniture, lighting, and other cool props for the show and the sets. She came across a booth that had a small straw installation and she made contact with the artist, Patrick Martinez. She called me excitedly, saying she met a great artist and an amazing installation that we had to incorporate somehow into the show. That was around January.
I kept the photo of his work tacked to my board in my office. When the outline for Episode 21 of Season 1 came out and there was an NZT party, I knew we had to go big. This was now months after the first mention of the artist. When I read the outline, I called Jenny immediately and said, "Let’s get the straw guy and make a super cool installation for the NZT party." We had no idea time frame, or cost, or material—but we knew we needed the piece.
Given the nature of this show, we had little time—so she called Patrick and said we had two weeks tops, but really 10 days. He said he was available but that he had never done a project that quickly. I presented the idea to Paul Edwards (the Director), Craig Sweeny (the Executive Producer), and the writers.
Not knowing at all how it would fit into the space, they loved the idea. Once we secured the location for the NZT party, I measured out the area and designed the space knowing that it would be the showpiece. I decided to make it a tunnel that Brian and the people at the party could walk through.
Watch a time-lapse of the set construction with moments from the wild scene: