Thanks to the generosity of Florida State University’s Department of Art alum and Dean’s Advisory Board member, Chuck Whited, the College of Fine Arts is pleased to be able to offer a range of hundreds of hand-painted backdrops for use in photo shoots, filming and more to the Florida State University family! The inventory of backdrops donated are from the collection of C&M Backdrops and will be open for all departments within Florida State University to rent upon request.
The opportunities for these backdrops are endless and extend beyond the College of Fine Arts. From student engagement with the College of Motion Picture Arts, to “walk and talk” interviews within the Colleges of Law or Business at FSU! These valuable backdrops broadly enhance and leverage Florida State as a university.
In 2007, Chuck joined the FSU College of Fine Arts Dean’s Advisory Board. He worked as a mentor for students in film and art, and grew to know the excellence of FSU’s many arts programs. He also learned about our needs.
After more than 25 years as the film industry’s go-to backdrop company in the southeast and nationally, Chuck Whited made a bold move. In Summer 2017, Chuck closed C&M Backdrops and donated his entire inventory of backdrops to the College of Fine Arts. The gift will supplement sets in our many hands-on learning environments.
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Chuck Whited came to Florida State University as an undergraduate studying botany and left with his BFA in Studio Art in 1976 under the guidance and mentorship of famed lithographer-artist William Walmsley. Whited never considered the arts as more than a hobby growing up. Despite the fact he never initially considered the arts as his career path, he states, “It was something I knew I could do, and something I enjoyed.”
To help pay his way through school, he ran an airbrushing business in Panama City Beach on the weekends. Whited laughs as he explains his right index finger is still flat from all the airbrushing t-shirts he did. His love for photorealistic art became his primary focus after his experience with airbrush design, making the industry of backdrop design easier for him. After waves of positive feedback on his large scaled paintings, Whited started his first backdrop company, C&M, as “just kind of a leap of faith.” He created inventory, and began doing something he still enjoys doing today: art directing.
Chuck moved to Atlanta where he worked in a number of production capacities. As Atlanta became an epicenter of filming in the U.S., Chuck responded to the growing needs for backdrop rentals and custom design/built sets with C&M Backdrops.
Whited’s backdrops have been used around the nation for many companies and productions, including: Toyota, Velocity, Discovery Channel, BET, CMT, Gaylord Productions, Georgia Lottery, Primerica, Sony, Atlanta Falcons, Fox Sports, ESPN, NASCAR, Coors, Weather Channel, Turner Networks, Diamond Dallas Page’s DDP YOGA, Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse, House of Payne, CBS ” Joe Ray Bonding”, features “Element”, ” Devious Maids”, “Hungry Man”, “Walking Dead” and of course FSU’s “Your Moment.”
“The most exciting thing that I worked in was something that didn’t pay at all.” Whited explains that a career highlight of C&M and his backdrop career was working on the film, His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
“We were in the studio, and these Tibetian monks walked in and wanted us to produce a backdrop for their tour. We didn’t know what tour, or that it would be world-wide with millions of viewers.” They brought C&M a postage-stamp sized picture of the Potala Palace, and asked if I would produce a backdrop of the picture. Later, when the monks came for the backdrop, they asked if I would produce a film for “His Holiness The Dalai Lama.” Whited headlined as the executive producer and art director for the film, pro bono. He recollects, “Once the word got out, everyone wanted a piece of the action. It was something that was unique and a once in a lifetime thing to work on.”
Whited may have hung up his hat in the backdrop rental and production business, but he continues to work as an artist, consultant, art director and executive producer in the film and television community. He is also a competitive cyclist and with his wife, Jacqueline, spends a lot of time traveling to meets with their competitive USA Gymnastics daughter, Vivi.
As a university, we are excited about the potential of future work with Chuck Whited and cannot thank him enough for his generosity to FSU. Thank you for empowering our university with your vision.