This post is dedicated to the memory of a wonderful PDC member, friend and mentor, production designer Lauren Fitzsimmons, who passed away in February at the age of 42 from an aggressive brain tumor.
Lauren was born in New Hartford, NY, and earned a BFA in Scenic Design for Theatre, at SUNY Purchase College's Conservatory for Theatre Arts & Film. Following graduation, Lauren launched a 19 year career, as Art Director, then Production Designer for TV and film in NYC and Los Angeles. She was a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 IATSE and the Art Directors Guild, and was represented by the Gersh Agency. Lauren's work can be seen her website.
The page is meant as a gathering place for memories, anecdotes, photos and lasting impressions of Lauren, provided by her former colleagues and friends. If you're interested in adding your memories of Lauren to this post, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will always remember Lauren as a supportive and enthusiastic member of the Production Designers Collective. She was the first to join events, both online and in-person, and always made sure to send us an encouraging email with positive feedback. She shared with us her gratitude, which always meant a lot to us and to our team of volunteers.
We were especially glad to see Lauren's name on our participants' list at the inaugural Production Designers Gathering last October. She made the trip to Greece with her partner Andris, but her participation was in doubt after she contracted covid shortly before the event. We were all thrilled when she was cleared in time to join us for our second day.
Lauren's spirit and passion for her craft, amplified and echoed by all participants, was what had turned the Gathering into such an amazing experience. Kalina and I are grateful that we were able to share those magical days with Lauren, only a few months ago.
Inbal Weinberg and Kalina Ivanov
I first met Lauren back in 2005 when I answered a post on the job search website, Mandy.com, from a production designer looking for a set decorator for a non-paying TV pilot job. We were both young, hungry and just starting our careers in the design world of film and television. We met on a rainy day at a Starbucks on 52nd St. in Midtown, and instantly clicked. We did not know back then that it would be the start of not only a working relationship, but of a beautiful friendship as well.
We jumped head first into our project, working long days and driving around the city in a beat up CC Rentals van - shopping for vintage furniture that we could alter to make it look high end on zero to no budget. Lauren was a perfectionist about her work and even without having any money to work with, we were able to make magic happen just as she did with all of her projects in her further career. Since then we were able to work on a few more projects together. I was always amazed at the way she implemented her vision into reality. She was stern, but kind to the crew. Lauren was also attentive to the little details that went into her sets and she put every ounce of love towards her craft.
Over the years we have shared so many milestones together that it is hard to pinpoint a favorite. She was by my side when I got married. She was the first person to see my son the minute he was born. When she decided to make a move to Los Angeles after art directing her first major studio movie in the Midwest, I was heartbroken to see her go, but excited for her future ahead. One of my best memories is when I first made the trip to visit her shortly after her move. She had embraced her new West Coast life to the fullest and showed me a side of LA that I have never witnessed before. We hiked up to the Hollywood Sign and took pictures inside the letters. We then made a wish about our futures and screamed them out into the clear blue sky.
If there was one word to describe Lauren to those who did not know her, it would have to be luminous. She radiated beauty from inside and out. I will forever cherish her wisdom, her laughter and the passion that she had for the beauty of the world around her.Her smile will live on in my heart and in my soul forever.
Lauren and I met for the first time at a PDC get together in Los Angeles back in early 2019 and we immediately hit it off. As a newbie in the industry, I was looking to make friends and Lauren, with her warm smile and infectious laughter, was so easy to approach and connect with.
Over the years, she became a mentor and friend. We worked together a couple of times - she first brought me on board as an Art PA on one of the many Masterclass videos she brought to life over the years. We then also collaborated on the concept phases of a Sci-Fi short and she was always patient and incredibly supportive as we worked together. What struck me the most however, was that even after having worked in the industry for many years, Lauren was always excited to learn new things from her crew and willing to share her knowledge with them. My favourite memory with Lauren would have to be us grabbing lunch on her balcony, soaking in some LA sun, talking of the kind of projects we hoped to do down the line and photographing her two beloved cats as they snuggled together.
She continued to be a wonderful friend, one of the few people I stayed in touch with even when I moved continents. She would always inquire and remain up to date on my professional achievements and personal milestones and likewise share hers with me. After many years, it was such a joy to finally meet her in person at the Production Designers Gathering in Greece last year! We danced and laughed, reminisced old times together and made plans to meet again. In her effortless way, she introduced me to others she knew and in those few moments, it felt like no time had passed. Little did I know, that that would be the final time we’d catch up.
Lauren was one of a kind - vivacious and fun, warm and generous. She’s gone too soon, but she leaves behind a body of wonderful work, and most of all she leaves lovely memories with me and all that knew and loved her. She will be very missed!
Lauren was a pure ray of sunshine and the type of person that will automatically boost your mood and self esteem by being around her for just a few minutes. She had that magic touch with her communicative smile and laugh.
I first met Lauren in 2016, probably after answering one of those early online ads needing an art PA or set dresser - she was designing one of the first VR series and was so excited to be part of that project that she made joining her in upstate NY in the middle of winter a much easier time. Over the years, she always made sure to keep in touch and re-connect over work or dinner in the numerous cities that we crossed paths. I was very fortunate to call her a mentor, but also a friend, to learn from her talented vision and love for design. I will for now forever cherish our last reconnection at the PDC Gathering in Greece, laughing till late, dancing and eating good food in good company. She will be missed.