THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY
Winter Wonderland: Setting the Scene
While love, family and friendships are at the core of the film, nothing would be complete without a perfect house to welcome everyone for the holidays. To make sure that occurred, The Best Man Holiday was shot on location in Toronto and Buffalo, NY.
As the Sullivan mansion is a critical element of the movie, the team knew it had to find just the right place. "Since we left him, Lance has had a fantastic career as a football player and has raised a big, beautiful family," explains producer Daniel. "He and Mia have made a fully realized, compassionate, expensively wonderful life for themselves, and they take care of their friends. Lance is very philanthropic, and they live in a big house...so we had to find just the right one."
Production designer Keith Burns set about looking for the right home, and after weeks of searching he found it in Toronto's most prestigious neighborhood, the Bridle Path. Daniel offers: "The mansion was just as Malcolm had imagined. It's very much where the Sullivans would be living."
The 30,000-sq-ft. home, set on 2.5 acres of manicured grounds, with an indoor pool, high-end fixtures and impressive layout, certainly fit the filmmakers' requirements. It had one other requirement they hoped they'd find: Although it fit the bill in terms of its grandeur, it was also in its final stages of being built. Because the house wasn't fully furnished, the art department had complete freedom to dress it -- according to what Lee and Burns saw for the characters.
As the majority of the events of The Best Man Holiday occur at or around Lance and Mia's mansion, the production designer and Lee knew it had to be perfect. Shares Lee: "Once we found the place on the Bridle Path, it was a no-brainer. We looked around, and all the rooms were such a great height and size. They were perfect not only for the technical aspects of the film -- shooting, lighting, etc. -- they were appropriate for guest rooms that any of Mia and Lance's college friends were going to stay in. The house was very production-friendly and suited our needs -- not only the interior of the house, but the grounds and exterior were ideal as well. We were able to have that yard, an indoor pool and a man cave...as well as the huge kitchen."
The filmmakers credit Burns and his team for the attention to detail, making sure every part of the home reflected the personality of the Sullivan family by turning the enormous mansion into a warm and comfortable place, filled with holiday cheer. Lee felt it was just what he wanted to portray Christmastime in New York. He says, "If you dress up a fancy house, it can really evoke those magical feelings. We have a majestic and magical setting, and everybody looking great and dressed in their Sunday best."
Other key settings included the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, where the Bills play -- and, for the purpose of our film, where Lance attempts to break the rushing record during his final season with the New York Giants. On Lee: "I have to thank the Buffalo Bills organization for allowing us to desecrate their arena. It's one of the oldest organizations and football fields in the NFL, and we were very fortunate to use the stadium. They worked very well with us and were tremendous in helping us out."
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