Summer 2017

Deb Dyer

When the Circus Arrives, a High-Wire Act Ensues


Nothing is ever quite ordinary on the set of the upcoming P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman, but for New York-based UPM Deb Dyer, that's just the way she likes it. "When we talk about aerial work, it usually means helicopters," says Dyer. "On this show, 'aerial' was flying trapeze artists, hoop artists, and all of these crazy folks hanging from the ceiling in our museum set and in our big top."

Dyer, whose previous projects include The Girl on the Train and The Intern, says scheduling for The Greatest Showman was a circus all its own. "We had a very extensive rehearsal period, we had choreographers working with folks and with the actors doing the pre-records, we had tumblers, jugglers, fire-breathers…" says Dyer. "Getting sets ready was all pretty complicated and complex, a little more intense."

Despite the bigger budget, the elaborate dance numbers and the extravagant set pieces, Dyer admits part of the appeal of being a UPM on a project like The Greatest Showman is the opportunity to be part of a focused team with a singular goal in mind. "I think different shows develop their own language," says Dyer, "and then you kind of hope that we all become fluent in whatever that language is—together."

(Photo: Marcie Revens)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

More from this issue
Check out the latest DGA Quarterly, featuring our cover story on directors' thoughts on the state of TV comedy, as well as interviews with Michelle MacLaren, Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright, Reed Morano, Thomas Schlamme and the Duffer brothers weighing in on their work -- past and present -- and much, much more.