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THE IN-LAWS

About The Production (Continued)
Designing a movie wedding can be even more work than planning a real one – especially when you know it has to sustain tsunami damage.

Production designer Andrew McAlpine, whose work on The Piano earned a BAFTA and an Australian Film Institute Award, approached the project with a sense of fun and glamour.  Adopting a pink and white theme, the team used thousands of flowers to embellish the lush waterfront setting.  "Since Albert's character is determined to make his daughter's wedding a flawlessly beautiful event,” he explains, "we had license to be artistic and romantic.”

The scene's structural challenge was preparing the specially constructed 100 x 40 foot canopied wedding tent to withstand a tidal wave of water "and still look good afterwards while remaining mostly intact,” says McAlpine, "so the appropriate safety precautions had to be taken to ensure that all the arrangements and the rest of the set dressing could collapse and not harm any of the guests.”

Equally elaborate as the wedding scene is the rehearsal dinner, which Steve Tobias has staged in the renowned Signature Ballroom high atop Chicago's Hancock Building -- a space that McAlpine's team spent eight weeks recreating on a soundstage.  The production designer also made some stylistic alterations to the room that better suited the story and built a stage to accommodate a live band, which doesn't exist in the original restaurant, and suggests playfully, "maybe the Signature Room will put one of those in now.”

Another design job requiring a blend of reality and imagination was Chicago's Quan Le Café, where the Peysers first break bread with the mercurial Steve.  Leaving the exterior on-site footage for a separate shoot, the director commissioned McAlpine to create an interior for the Vietnamese restaurant that could accommodate a rush of simultaneous action.   During the brief dinner, Steve breaks away from his table several times in order to confer with his partner, conclude his arms deal and do battle with an armed FBI agent in the restroom before sprinting out just as the kitchen erupts in flames.

"We have people moving in and out of doors, sitting at tables; there are five elements and different eye lines active at the same time,” McAlpine outlines.  "It would have been impractical to shoot in an existing location so we decided to use a stage.  Because of the restaurant's large front windows, that also necessitated building a street outside and replicating the existing shops and neon signage across the road.  We recreate the actual street, but the interior is totally unique to the film.”

Says Fleming, "Since the movie is about a series of environments that keep surprising us, and it's important that the sets, the textures and the overall look reflect the energy of the story.  Andrew's done an amazing job.  He's unbelievably resourceful; if something can't be done one way he'll come back with two more ways to go.”

Costumes for The In-Laws were designed by Deborah Everton, whose creative collaboration with Fleming dates to the director's first film, the 1988 thriller Bad Dreams, and includes Dick, The Craft and the recent Threesome.  Having established a rapport early in their careers, the two now often anticipate each other's ideas.

In preparing wardrobe for Douglas and Brooks, Everton considered not only their individual personalities but their look in tandem, since so many of their scenes are shared.  "Any time you have actors next to each other,” she explains, "you think of it as a still life painting or a photograph.  You're always aware of how they fit together in a frame.”  She provided the dashing agent with cool tones and crisply tailored lines, and contrasted the conservative podiatrist in warmer tones and textured fabrics fo

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