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RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS

Production Design
Penny Marshall turned to longtime collaborator Miroslav Ondricek to photograph RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS. It is Ondricek's fourth film with Marshall, after "Awakenings," "A League of Their Own" and "The Preacher's Wife." Ondricek is a two-time Oscar" nominee for "Ragtime" and "Amadeus;" he was awarded a BAFTA for "Amadeus."

Production design was in the capable hands of Bill Groom. "Every movie has its own obligations," says Groom. "In this particular case, our task was to create a world that would help tell Beverly Donofrio's story."

Beverly grew up in a small, government-subsidized house that was built around 1950. "The terrible housing shortage after World War II led to these houses being built by the thousands," notes Groom. "Two things characterized them: a kind of bareness-a sort of efficiency and a clearing of the landscape, and a sameness-building exactly the same house over and over. Generally they were very uniform, sometimes exactly the same, one after another."

When Groom and Penny Marshall scouted the original location in Wallingford, it had changed considerably. Although the houses still existed, over the years some had added garages, bedrooms, or second stories. The roofs, paint, and siding were different.

With Wallingford eliminated as the film's site, they began to look for a piece of land in the New York City area large enough to build six or seven houses that would evoke the reality of Beverly's experience in the mid-'60s. They found it at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. Upsala closed about five years ago and some of the dormitories had been torn down, leaving two-and-a-half acres of open space-enough room for Groom to build the cul-de-sac that would become Bev's neighborhood in the movie.

Director Penny Marshall was adamant about creating a background that would give the audience a sense of Bev and Ray's environment-the closeness of their neighbors, their backyards. "I wanted a neighborhood," says Marshall. "A place where there's always people outside; there's kids to play with and noise going on."

A cul-de-sac was the answer. "It gave us a kind of contained little world," says Groom. "Penny took advantage of that in the staging of the movie. "

There were four houses original to the Upsala campus that remained. "I incorporated those houses just by changing the configuration of the doors. They originally had one door in the center. By adding a door, we turned them into duplexes, which were typical of the Wallingford houses. I also thought the sameness of the houses was important."

Next, Groom turned his attention to the interiors. "For Bev and Ray's house, I felt I had to create a space that was really too small to contain Beverly's dreams."

Groom laughs and adds, "The problem was that a house that's too small to hold Beverly's dreams is too small to shoot in. We had to figure out a way to shoot the movie but not add so much space that it seemed wrong for the characters and wrong for the story."

The dilemma was solved by adding six feet outside the walls to accommodate the camera, lighting and other equipment. "The scenes in this house were always shot with the windows open because Penny wanted to show a complete neighborhood. You can see the outside, cars moving down the street, people going in and out of their houses."

Before he started, Groom says one of his biggest concerns was how to make a tiny, two-bedroom house interesting on the screen for two hours. "The solution was to provide a house in which there's enormous variety for the camera-constantly changing angles and the ability to actually see the whole place, the way the characters mig

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