Traveling America: Locations and Design
While a majority of IDENTITY THIEF takes place during Sandy and Diana's
epic road trip from Winter Park, Florida, to Denver, Colorado, the crew
shot the lion's share of the production in Atlanta, Georgia.
"We scouted a lot of states, but the interesting thing about Georgia
was that there are a lot of very different landscapes and terrains
throughout the state that are not far from downtown Atlanta," explains
Abdy. "By shooting in Georgia we were able to find locations
to cover all of the states [including Florida, North Carolina,
Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky
and naturally, Georgia] the story tracks through. All we had
to do was send a small unit to get some of the iconic landmarks and
landscapes of various cities traveling in motion."
Gordon expounds upon his producer's note: "We needed to make Georgia
look like Diana and Sandy traveled from just outside Orlando all the
way to Denver. We had to capture the look of all the states
that were on that journey, so it was a real challenge.
Shepherd Frankel, our production designer, did an amazing job finding
all of the different looks we needed to make it feel like a long
For Frankel, who has collaborated on all of Gordon's movies, the
challenge wasn't just shooting a road trip movie in one state, but also
creating the enormous number of sets needed for the film.
"When I first read the script, I thought, 'Wow! This is
fantastic!'" recalls Frankel. "But when I broke down the
screenplay, I saw that it covered 10 states and 94 sets. I
asked myself, 'How are we going to get 10 states and all of those
environments in and around the Atlanta area?'
"In a road trip film, the key is to show topography and the geography
when our actors are in various places," he continues. "So one
of the first things I did was put together a roadmap that showed the
journey and made sense of the timeline and where they were in relation
to the script, and how long it actually took to get places.
That way, we could have a roadmap that we could scout and figure out
how to pull it off."
Another challenge for the production was putting the lead actors in the
small confined space that was Sandy's rental car for significant
periods of time. Explains Stuber: "When you shoot a road
movie, there is obviously a lot of driving and the various car rigs
give you an advantage of being able to cross-shoot in the car scenes so
you don't have to do each actor's coverage separately. This
way, all the jokes feel organic. However, the actors are
stuck in a car with seat belts and can't move around their environment,
so we better be funny."
From the first shot that involved Bateman chasing down McCarthy on the
shoulder of a Georgia highway, it was clear that the chemistry between
the two actors was dynamic. Abdy recalls that day: "It was
awesome to watch Jason and Melissa together for the first
time. You envision how it's going to be, but until you're
there with the lights, costumes and cameras you just don't
know. So when the chemistry between your actors comes alive,
it's one of the most exciting parts of filmmaking."
For McCarthy, the driving scenes with Bateman were among her favorite
moments during the shoot. "I loved a lot of the driving
scenes with Jason because they made me laugh out loud," shares
McCarthy. "I ruined so many takes because Jason just kills
me, and it was so fun to sit in the car and say the most insane things
back and forth."
For Bateman, the feeling was mutual: "I loved the scenes where Melissa
and I were sitting in the car and my character has to deal with all of
her absurd behavior and endless stories. During those scenes,
I would pinch the inside of my thighs so that I wouldn't laugh in the
middle of the take. It was somewhat effective, but by the end
of the film, my legs were covered in pinch marks. In the car
I also had a great seat to watch Melissa create moments and be as
nimble as she is. She's constantly pivoting and keeping
things fresh and making the next take better. As she became
more familiar with how I would react to what she said, she would bend
that next beat to where it needed to go. She's a comedic
ninja, and it was so much fun to work with her."
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