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GIGLI

About The Production
Principal photography on Gigli utilized more than 20 Los Angeles locations as well as sound stages at the historic Culver Studios.

In fact, the city of Los Angeles might well be called one of the movie's co-stars.

"I've been living in Los Angeles for a long time," says Brest, "but because I'm one of those displaced New Yorkers who love New York, I've always set my movies there. Before I started writing Gigli, I found myself exploring Los Angeles in a way I had never done before, gravitating towards downtown L.A., an area that people in the movie industry rarely have occasion to visit. And I became fascinated by the fact that within the city I live there's this entirely different city with its own aesthetic."

Brest was intrigued by downtown L.A.'s ramshackle qualities. "There's something fascinating about the slight state of disrepair it's in and the almost negligible architecture. I wanted to show a very particular personality of the city, a uniquely transient, depressing side."

The film's most important set was Gigli's apartment. The building the set is based on is located in Hollywood where the exterior scenes were filmed. The interior was the responsibility of production designer Gary Frutkoff and his team.

"Gary was the designer on Out of Sight, a movie I worked on when I was at Universal," explains Casey Silver. "I thought he could capture that haunted feeling that Los Angeles can have for a lot of people, that distinctive and vacant loneliness."

In his first meeting with Brest, Frutkoff realized his main challenge was Gigli's apartment. The script called for 45 minutes of the story to take place in this one location. How to treat the space outside the apartment windows on a sound stage is always a pressing concern for the production designer. Translights (giant photographic slides that are commonly used) would be too stagnant and predictable for such a long shoot. Rear projection or computer effects would add life, but would be cost prohibitive. The answer came when location manager, Ken Lavet, showed Brest and Frutkoff photos of a mid-century apartment building in Hollywood. The cement courtyard, pool and palms were bathed in a harsh southern California sunlight reminiscent of a David Hockney photomontage. The courtyard and pool would become their template.

Then Frutkoff's set decorator Maggie Martin and her crew were assigned the difficult task of enhancing this environment through sheer minimalism. "The character doesn't read, so there were no books,' explains Brest. "They couldn't hang things on the walls because Gigli has no art. Every day they'd make a suggestion and I'd say ‘no, you can't put that in.' It's much easier to dress a set with lots of things than a set that has nothing, but they did a magnificent job. One of my favorite subtle details is a little wall between the dining room and the living room. It's in the background in practically every shot and we had discussions about putting a picture on it. We tried all kinds of prints and photographs and nothing really worked. Finally we decided it was best left empty. All that's there is a painted nail, as though there had been something hanging there at one time. To me it perfectly captured the atmosphere."

Recalls Frutkoff, "This was a character-driven piece, which I'm always attract

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