The film sets of No One Will Save You: How to create a backstory with only 5 words of dialogue

The film sets of No One Will Save You: How to create a backstory with only 5 words of dialogue

No One Will Save You follows Brynn a creative and talented young woman who’s been alienated from her community. Lonely but ever hopeful, Brynn finds solace within the walls of the home where she grew up—until she’s awakened one night by strange noises from decidedly unearthly intruders.

Written and directed by Brian Duffield and starring Kaitlyn Dever, the script only features five words of dialogue. Production designer Ramsey Avery therefore had a challenge to design spaces that would inform us of Brynn’s backstory and the community around her. With each element of set design carefully picked out and incorporated in just the right place, Ramsey crafted a multigenerational tale of the house and its owner.

Discover more about the design of the film sets of No One Will Save You in our interview with Avery, and take a look at behind the scenes photos below.

no one will save you film sets
Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn Adams in 20th Century Studios’ No One Will Save You, exclusively on Hulu. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

How did you approach the process of creating the film sets of No One Will Save You given the fact the film only has 5 words of dialogue. How did it impact the role of production design?

Ramsey Avery: We knew from the start that the house had to be a character in the film because it – and the camera work and sound effects within it – would be the only way we could tell Brynn’s backstory.

We had to approach the design knowing we would have to be very specific with everything we chose to show with the camera. The character of the house: its design style, its materials, its colours, the furniture, the window treatments, the art on the walls … and the birdhouses! … plus, the way it makes a sound, every bit of that had to be worked out with the Writer/Director, Brian Duffiled, and the DP, Aaron Morton, to help the audience understand Brynn. That challenge (and a pretty great script!) are what sucked me into the project.

No one will save us film sets
The Parlour with birdhouses in No One Will Save You

For us to be able to make those choices, we first had to create a deep history for Brynn and why she chose to stay in the house. Brian’s script only gave us a few clues about Brynn’s relationship with her mother and that Brynn had a talent for dress-making.

Through a lot of reference research, our locations hunt, and discussions with Brian, I came up with the idea that the house was first owned by her grandparents but then moved to a piece of land Grandma had fallen in love with, and Grandpa wanted for its remoteness.

As the family grew, the grandparents decided to expand it. After they moved out and passed away, Brynn’s mom took over the house with her husband, who then left, leaving her to raise Brynn on her own. She took to that with great compassion but not necessarily great success. She tried her best to connect with Brynn, sharing her love of craft (she was great at macaramé!) and collecting birdhouses.

The script also lets us know a horrible event happened in Brynn’s tween years, sending her to juvenile detention. So we knew she spent her formative years isolated in jail. During that time, her wider family disowned her, and then her mom died. That meant the house was the only connection left to her earlier life.

Brian also wanted to make sure we underlay the story with a sense of comfort but a bit of darkness, so he wanted Brynn to love Douglas Sirk movies from the 50s, with their elegant visual clarity resting over unsettled passions. With this basic story, we could make clear choices in the production design and set decorating to build clues for the audience.


The house is the focal point of the film, and it’s a multigenerational house. Can you share more about how you reflected different generations in architecture and the interiors?

no one will save you film sets

RA: We first had to find a location house to base our design on, as, due to logistical shooting needs, our built interior sets had to tie to an existing exterior. We eventually, literally at the very last moment, found this great late 19th Century country-style, slightly Craftsman house. It needed some work to make it work for our story – adding dormer windows and chimneys, creating a back garden, cleaning up the grounds from a recent hurricane – but it had a great feel and a wonderful setting.

no one will save you film sets
On the set of 20th Century Studios’ No One Will Save You, exclusively on Hulu. Photo by Sam Lothridge. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The actual age of this house is established by earlier generations. We then looked at ways to show a renovation in the 70s – the back third of the kitchen, the pantry, and the bathroom are part of that expansion, as well as a new bathroom in the upstairs bedroom. You can see this materials shift in the kitchen walls and ceiling and the original exterior siding is the surface of the wall leading to the pantry.

No One Will Save You: Kitchen

The furniture shows a range of pieces from Craftsman side tables to an 00s sofa. Basically, all of the furniture comes from Brynn’s grandparents or parents.

The lighting was another way to show history – the “original” fixtures are all in that late 19th Century style, with newer elements added for the 70s remodel (especially in the kitchen and the bedroom), plus some table lamps from the late 90s and 00s. There are a few specific Brynn lighting pieces in the Bedroom, mostly decorative (stars and twink lights) rather than practical.

no one will save you film sets
No One Will Save You: Bedroom

The dressing also shows that range, some very old pieces, plus some newer ones. There is plenty of Mom’s macramé sprinkled throughout the house and a few country motivational signs about the value of family.

There are paintings showing the range of time, layered with photos from the grandparents up to Brynn’s tween years. But there are no pictures of Dad – he left, and Mom excised him from their life. There are mementos of a few family trips, but not many – the family never had a lot of money. Our decorators, Clair Sanchez and John France, did a great job thinking through and sourcing this.

no one will save you film sets
On the set of 20th Century Studios’ No One Will Save You, exclusively on Hulu. Photo by Sam Lothridge. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The key design choice was how we showed Brynn coming into her own through a process I called “Brynn-ification.” We know from her dress-making and her time-making things with her mom that she is crafty. And we decided that her work with therapists in prison would have directed her toward controlling her anger and looking for positive reinforcement. With that in mind, we researched the online resources Brynn would have had access to when she got out of JD: Pinterest, Etsy, and other websites that featured an optimistic sense of cottage core.

From those sources, we decided that she learned how to dress up her space with fabrics and, more importantly, with paint, things she could afford with the money she got from selling dresses. Brynn loved her yard and the freedom it seemed to give her, so she wanted to bring that inside. She painted flower chains in the kitchen and tall blooms in her basement workspace. And she painted the sky in her bedroom.


In general, bedrooms are naturally very personal rooms and the least public-facing spaces. In this case especially, Brynn’s bedroom and the mural tell us a lot about her and her personality. Can you walk us through creating that space?

No One Will Save You: Bedroom

RA: The bedroom is her parents’ room, which she moved into after getting out of jail. This was one of her ways of saying she was grown up now. I wanted this room to reflect a sense of yearning for her but still emphasise that she is trapped. Immersed in cottage core, the first image that popped into my head was of an upstairs room where the ceiling was pitched in over her. But she brought a sense of hope and freedom into that space by painting it with trees reaching up into a lovely sky filled with singing birds.

There is a key moment written in the script toward the end of the film where Brynn is slammed into her bedroom ceiling by forces she doesn’t really understand. The first image I had of her was of Brynn crammed into the peak of that gabled ceiling, floating in what she had painted as an optimistic vision now encasing her, with birds she meant to suggest freedom but were now just stuck on paint. This image-guided the illustration of the bedroom I worked on with our illustrator, Rob Castro, and was the first piece of the concept art we created for the movie. It set the tone for the rest of the design.

The dressing of the room showed how Brynn was still a bit trapped in trying to work through her youth. There are elements of her childhood – stuffed animals among them – as well as showing a sense of “dress up” with fancy hats on hooks, shelves of shoes, and pretty scarves on a rack. The way things are messily arranged in the room still has a sense of “teenager” about it, and there are a few very deliberately “girly” touches, like the fuzzy chair and the twink lights: Brynn isn’t really quite grown up yet.


Were there any other rooms or aspects of the design of the house interiors that were special to you when telling the story?

RA: One of the first rooms we see is her basement workspace. It was important to show how this was a space that Brynn had very specifically made into her own, turning a dingy brick and formed concrete space into something warm and comfortable – but which also could allow for a spooky game of alien cat and mouse later on! So we had her paint the walls with her flowers.

Her dressmaking and shipping supplies are all tidily organized among crafty shelves and pegboard walls. The focus of the room is on her vintage (00s) sewing machine, which was her Mom’s. She used twink lights behind gauze to light the space warmly.

One of my favourite details in the whole design is the fireplace wall in that set. Always looking for ways to tell Brynn’s story and to further warm up the space, we made it look like she had decoupaged the bricks of that set piece with old tracing paper dress patterns and 50s period dress designs.

no one will save you film sets
The basement workspace in No One Will Save You

We also looked at using the design and dressing to emphasise the house being comforting but also where she has trapped herself. So, wood paneling is treated in very warm tones, but it runs in vertical bars, a subtle jail reference. We chose bamboo slat blinds for the same reason – they could become bars over the windows, letting in only small slits of light. Even the wallpaper in the kitchen is a chain-link design.

Brynn’s secret room in No One Will Save You

The most direct element of Brynn’s history was the secret room, where we see all of the letters she had written to Maude. We decided this was her childhood room, left mostly frozen in time.

The room had flowers in the wallpaper (echoed in the flowers painted all around the house), the watercolours she did as a child, posters of movies she loved, and her stuffed animals. We strung together all of those Maude letters in a bit of a “crazy person” trope, hung them around the room, and tied them together with string.

There was also a playful reference to the movie E.T.: the box Brynn hides behind has a very similar arrangement of stuffed animals to those when E.T. hides in Elliot’s closet – although this time, it is the human hiding from the alien!

And finally, the birdhouses and the birdhouse village were key to Brynn’s story. For legal reasons, we couldn’t use Lemax ceramic Halloween houses originally described in the script. Instead, I pitched a way to connect this important visual element to Brynn by making them birdhouses that she and her mom built together. The metaphor of both something comfortable to nest in and also enclosing felt perfect. Then, once we had found the real-life small village to use for Brynn’s hometown, we could actually have her build birdhouses to match parts of that. So, she created her version of the perfect small town, the one she wanted to live in.

In the long run, these elements also give us a way to connect with the movie’s finale, when she is shown to have reconnected with the people of her town. Not only do we see her happy amongst the same buildings she put in her perfect birdhouse town, but she now has Brynn-ified all of the storefronts in the real world. The town quite literally now reflects and embraces her.

No One Will Save You production design, set decoration, film sets, film locations, furniture and décor
Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn Adams in 20th Century Studios’ No One Will Save You, exclusively on Hulu. Photo by Sam Lothridge. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

With barely any dialogue, the sound of the environment comes to the forefront. Can you talk more about how you and your team designed and decorated spaces to make practical sound effects work?

RA: There were two main components to that. Specifically, Brian wrote a lot of sound effects into the script, so we had to find ways to make those sounds in the sets. We needed hardwood floors in specific places for the alien to thwapthwapthwap along, and then carpets where that sound suddenly stops. There was the landing where floorboards had to  … c  r  e  a  k  …  And the bed had to have springs that went sproing.

More broadly, we had to design each room to have a sound characteristic. For example, the secret room had to have lots of soft fabrics to create a sound-absorbent space where Brynn could hide. The kitchen was designed with lots of hard surfaces, exposed walls, and glass, so it would be very live, allowing the noises the aliens made to echo. We then had to figure out how to design and dress that kitchen in a way that allowed for lots of banging noise – so we hung lots of cooking tools and created a ton of cabinet doors to slam around.

Basically every design choice had an effect on sound. Since we started before the sound team, a lot of that was worked out with Brian, but the sound folk were very happy with the choices and complimented us on how much work we had already done for them!

Take a closer look at the film sets of No One Will Save You: Watch it on Disney+

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