Beyond Belief's eerie nun portrait
Beyond Belief’s eerie nun portrait

Revel in playing with others; that the mindset of Yvette Zhang. Fortunately for her, a career in television and film enables this creative bent to the benefit of both Yvette and those with whom she collaborates. As the Art Director of the television series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, Ms. Zhang is part of a team of remarkably skilled professionals who bring fantastic stories to life. The show has become a fan favorite for its otherworldly subject matter as well as its dynamic visual style. Yvette declares, “I have to say that the most rewarding aspect of my job is the opportunity to work with a diverse range of materials and create unique props for each episode. Despite the challenges of a tight schedule and constantly changing locations and scripts, I found myself having fun with every project I undertook.” The premise of this series is that it challenges the viewer to question what is real and what is presented as deception by the professionals who create each episode. The contributions of Yvette Zhang make discerning this immensely more difficult and thus satisfying for legions of fans of the show. 

Beyond belief fairy tale book prop
Beyond belief fairy tale book prop

  The look of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is as striking as any major budget feature film. Practical and digital effects, 3D modeling, set dressing, and fine art props combine to fully realize the fantastic settings in which the stories take place. From the digital model of a haunted mansion to extra-terrestrial tools, the visual elements of this show hedge the fence between recognizable and unbelievable. Yvette relates, “We wanted the visuals to have a surreal quality that would enhance the show’s themes of the supernatural and the unknown. As the art director for Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Season 5, I can confidently say that the most challenging part of my work on this TV series was the need to constantly adapt to the changing demands of each new script and director. With different scripts for each shooting day and a rotation of 1-3 directors every week, we had to be extremely versatile and flexible in our approach to the art direction.” 

beyond belief art department group photo (Yvette-far right, Host Jonathan Frakes-center)

  Jonathan Frakes, the host of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, often introduces each episode with a series of eerie and surreal props which help set the tone for the upcoming story. The props are both an introduction into many episodes and an essential component of the audience’s suspension of reality. Many of these props were products of Yvette Zhang’s creativity and skill. With her strong background in Fine Arts, many of the most striking props in the series were extraordinary focal points. A creepy dollhouse, a haunting portrait of a nun, a book of Viking witchcraft, props like these are undeniably captivating and unsettling thanks to Yvette’s masterful artistry. These creations do not come easily. Ms. Zhang recalls that the Viking witchcraft book alone took almost a week of her time but it was so visually striking that it became a primary focus of that particular episode, more than justifying the time she spent. Yvette notes, “Despite the challenges, however, it was an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of such a dynamic and exciting production and to see our hard work come to life on screen in each episode. Overall, I am proud of the work that our art department accomplished on Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Season 5. I am confident that audiences will be thrilled with the end result.” Yvette Zhang will return with Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction for its upcoming sixth season.

Writer: Coleman Haan

By Punit