AND SO IT GOES
About The Location and Set Design
As mentioned, Oren and share Leah space in Little Shangri-La, a fascinating,
lovely set built over a five-week period by production designer Ethan Tobman and
his team, prior to the film's 5-1/2 week shoot in June and July 2013.
The script for AND SO IT GOES originally set the story in the San Diego area,
with images of bungalows and fourplexes coming to mind as planning began. "The
script had that kind of architecture where people have concrete cutouts and
shared balconies and staircases," Tobman informs. But as the project evolved,
Reiner and the producers decided to shift the setting to New England. Tobman
adds, "that kind of architecture doesn't really exist on the East Coast. But we
still kept the functionality of the plot, so that people were living on top of
each other, sharing a fourplex."
Finding a location for such a structure wasn't easy - in fact, it was
impossible. After six weeks looking from New Jersey to the Hamptons to the
Connecticut coastline, Tobman eventually found a town in Connecticut called
Black Rock, just outside Bridgeport on Long Island Sound, which appeared to fit
the bill. "We happened by chance upon this very run-down section of Connecticut,
which has been in decline, economically, since the 20s or 30s."
But it had an appeal. "Black Rock's a very nice, gentrified area," states
Douglas, who knew the area from living close by for so many years. "It's made up
mostly of a lot of smaller houses owned by either retired policemen or firemen,
or houses that are just rented out. Bridgeport's a pretty tough town - Black
Rock is not. And it gives you a good sense of Southport, which is right next
door," where the film takes place.
Tobman found a two-story duplex on a dead-end street on Burr Creek, which had
the makings of what was needed for Little Shangri-La. "It was a two-story unit,
shared by two people, with entrances on the first floor," the designer
describes. "So each tenant had a two-story duplex. We needed to make it look
like four separate units."
Trellises, balconies and spiral staircases were added, to give the illusion of
four individual residences. "We added trellises with oval cutouts, so that
you're constantly in touch with your neighbor. If someone goes up the stairs,
they're forced to interact with the person downstairs, which is always a great
narrative visual - especially for Michael's character, who just wants to be left
Every surface on the building - as well as the neighboring structure, which
appeared in shot often - was completely resurfaced. Tobman adds, "all the
aluminum siding was torn down, and we put up wood shingles, which we aged. And
we added siding to the interior walls, with vintage wood. The phrase that caught
Rob's ear was that it was to have 'a faded hipness' to it. Something from the
Catskills in the '40s - the idea that this place was a pretty good getaway in
the '70s and '80s, but had seen better days."
A 100 ft. dock, complete with yachts and rowboats, was built out into the water,
and 6,000 square feet of grass was added, in place of the dead-end pavement, to
give a sense of an ample front lawn. Tobman references, "we planted tons of
foliage, to make it look overgrown - again, charming and past its prime."
Tobman took advantage of another important resource when designing Leah's unit
in the building - Diane Keaton. "Some actors show up the day of the shoot and
either like everything or hate everything. I knew Diane was very involved in
interior design and has had a lot of success with real estate, and she has
excellent taste. I reached out to her in prep, because I wanted her to be part
of the process, and she very much was."
About a month before the shoot, Tobman flew to Los Angeles and spent the day
with the actress, talking about her character. "We talked about what might be on
her walls, what might be her furniture. And what we came up with together -
which was not in the script at first - was that her character was an actress who
had had a mid-level range of success with her deceased husband, Eugene, in the
'70s and '80s in New York and New Jersey, off Broadway."
Tobman's Art Department then created believably detailed posters, playbills,
ticket stubs and reviews of countless fictitious plays Leah and Eugene had
appeared in together - even to the point of casting a background player, Cyrus
Newitt, to appear as her husband in the numerous photographs adorning Leah's
In contrast to Leah's, Oren's unit is incredibly uninviting. "Her unit is light
and airy. His is dark and stained and claustrophobic and cluttered," Tobman
says. "There's no personality and no shred of femininity. There's been no female
presence anywhere in his apartment since his wife died."
The completed set absolutely fit the bill, as far as Reiner was concerned. "It's
like a character in the movie," he says. "It's pretty self-contained. We had
scenes in each of their apartments. We could shoot any angle we wanted. Ethan
and his team did a fantastic job."
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