BMF: Interview with Production Designer Kathrin Eder

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Kathrin Eder attends 2022 Beyond Fest: Special Screening Of Hulu's "Hellraiser" at Aero Theatre on October 04, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Kathrin Eder attends 2022 Beyond Fest: Special Screening Of Hulu's "Hellraiser" at Aero Theatre on October 04, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) /

Available on Starz and executive produced by rapper/actor Curtis Jackson (AKA 50 Cent), BMF stands for Black Mafia Family. The drama series is based on the true story of how BMF came to be in 1980s-era Detroit.

Among others, it stars Russell Hornsby, Demetrius Flenory Jr., Michole Briana White, Kelly Hu, and Ajiona Alexus, and also has notable appearances by Snoop Dogg, Leslie Jones, Mo’Nique, and even a cameo by Eminem. With the success of the series (and announced spinoffs), we wanted to ask Production Designer Kathrin Eder (who also worked on the 2022 Hellraiser film) about her work on BMF and what sets the series apart.

BMF Interview with Production Designer Kathrin Eder

Show Snob: What can you tell people about the story and the characters on BMF?

Kathrin Eder: BMF is a biographic episodic television series about Meech and Terry Flenory, two brothers who grew up in 1980s Detroit and started the largest crack-cocaine organization in US history to escape their generational poverty. The show starts in the 1980s and then throughout the seasons, it follows the brothers’ incarceration that happened in the mid-2000s. The series is very much centered around the values of two families: the family the brothers grew up in and the family they formed, becoming known as the Black Mafia Family.

Show Snob: In what ways does the action of a scene inform production design?

Kathrin Eder: With this particular show, the actual real lives of our characters have a huge impact on the production design. I had the opportunity to meet with the Flenorys and speak about their accounts and memories. That is something I cherish very much, as I was able to base a lot of the design on actual family images and integrate memories that matter to each family member.

Beyond the intimate details of the actual family, Detroit in the 80s had a very impactful history: the results of urban flight, the previous drug epidemics, corruption in the local government and the police force, poverty, and gang warfare but also a tremendous amount of musical history and art. All of these bits of information contribute to the way we built the world of BMF.

Show Snob: Does Detroit have a unique look or style?

Kathrin Eder: I think I pointed out a few aspects in the previous questions already and I think that Detroit has a very specific look and feel. To this day. The American car industry played such a huge part in the way the city initially developed, and urban flight created such scars in the map of this

The presence of water, the large bridges, and the proximity to Canada all shape the
look of the city. Beyond that, the factories with their smokestacks, the star-formation of the boulevards leading in all directions from the center of the city, and the wide array of impactful, architectural styles give the city much personality and character.

Even though I’ve been there several times since I started on BMF and have spent many weeks there, there are still so many faces I have barely discovered. The amount of history in this area, especially history essential to what the United States is today, is powerful.

Show Snob: What are your favorite “wild card” moments in the show (moments that would be hard to predict)?

Kathrin Eder: When I first signed onto the project, I didn’t know Snoop Dog would be involved. That was a great surprise to work with him and build sets for him. What a kind, fun, and humble human being. One thing that I think everybody who watched season 1 was surprised with, and that I was taken aback by was, that Kato died. I loved Kato and the cherry on top with her is, that Randy Huggins (our Showrunner), used my name as her legal name, which I got a kick out of.

BMF and the 1980s feel

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 05: Demetrius Flenory Jr, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Da’Vinchi attend the BMF Season 2 Los Angeles Premiere Event on January 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for STARZ) /

Show Snob: Are there any significant challenges to creating a 1980s feel for BMF?

Kathrin Eder: We filmed most of the last two seasons of BMF, which are set mainly in 1980s Detroit, in Atlanta. Atlanta has a very different personality from Detroit. The foliage is much more lush, and there are hills everywhere, whereas Detroit is flat. There is no presence of water or large bridges.

We had to be very specific in the choice of our locations and then augment them to work for 1988. There was and is a huge desire to build an authentic world, and everyone supported that. I really loved it and loved being part of this show. I had a great team, and we had a lot of fun with the sets.

Show Snob: Did 50 Cent give you any input directly into how he wanted the show to look? If so, what did those conversations sound like?

Kathrin Eder: Curtis gave his blessing in my meeting with all the studio heads. I was actually in a car on my way to Detroit to meet our Show Runner, Detroit Native Randy Huggins there. Since I got delayed in traffic, on the way up from Atlanta, I did my studio pitch in the car. I think that charmed the EPS.

Curtis also directed episode 7 of the first season. I have a lot of respect for him as an entertainer and he had a specific vision for the episode as a director, which I appreciated. Overall, most of the input he gives is between the showrunner, the leads, and himself. The showrunner then would pass on any requests to the other create HODs.

Show Snob: What future projects are you working on?

Kathrin Eder: I am currently attached to a wonderful small arthouse movie that is going to film in London later this spring and I am very, very excited about it. It’s too early in prep to say anything else about it, but I’m hoping I can speak more once we get closer to premiering it in 2024. What I want to say though, is when a script comes to your desk and lights a fire inside of you, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings to have as a designer, storyteller, and filmmaker. And this story holds those feelings for me.

There are also a couple of other features floating around that I hope will manifest later in the year. One with a previous collaborating director, who I cherish and hope we can get together on his project again.

(Warning: This trailer contains light profanity.)

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We’d like to thank Kathrin Eder for taking the time to answer our questions, and feel free to check out BMF!