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The Look Of The Film
Nigel Cole's decision to cast the film with "real movie stars” was designed, he says, to elevate the film beyond the "small British film” pigeonhole. That ambition also informed the design and look of the film. For Cole's collaborators, production designer Martin Childs and director of photography Ashley Rowe, the change of location from the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales to the manufactured glamour of Los Angeles allowed them to realize that ambition. 

"In my very first meeting with Nigel,” says Childs, "we talked about how the calendar changes the way the two women, Annie and Chris, see one another, how it reveals things about them, and how certain aspects of themselves are brought to the fore by the process and the result of making the calendar.” Childs, who won a Best Production Design Academy Award® in 1999 for his work on "Shakespeare in Love,” says, "It's all there in the dialogue and gestures but, in addition to that, going to America was an opportunity to alter quite drastically the look of the film. Annie's not just a fish out of water, she's someone who's beginning at last to face her grief; Chris, on the other hand (as ever) takes control, but here in America there are things she can't control. 

"First impressions of Los Angeles are that, yes, it has glamour, but it also has buildings that look and feel rather temporary, almost skin deep,” Childs continues. "Yorkshire, by contrast, looks like somewhere that's been there forever and will stay there forever. We spent a lot of time in the early days driving around Yorkshire talking about the look of the film, and the emotional truth of the story and how you can get closer to that through the way people live, the houses they live in and the landscape. 

"We deliberately avoided the clichés by making it look as if you can't live there without having to work for a living. People have bills to pay, bikes to mend, they bunk off school, they fall out and they get cancer - just like anywhere else. It's a working place and it just happens to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.” 

After an extensive search throughout the Yorkshire Dales, Childs and his team chose Kettlewell to stand in for the film's fictional village of Knapely, in part because although very characteristic of the region, it is not "the prettiest village in the Dales”. Four other villages in the area, including Skipton and Linton, were also used during the film's nineand- a-half week shoot. 

Childs's proudest achievement on the film was the sets he designed and had built at Shepperton Studios. For the village hall, for example, Childs and his team "had a lot of fun with the details - years and years of paint upon paint. We installed old radiators with portable gas heaters in front of them to show they no longer work, balloons and tinsel left over from a Christmas party, old conduit, switch boxes that stopped working decades ago, Cora's mad old art deco piano.” 

Chris's house was another favorite. "Chris and Rod are not only a messy couple with a teenage son, their house looks like they've just had the builders in,” says Childs. "The builders, though, had left without finishing or perhaps it was too messy even for them. Or maybe Chris and Rod were doing it themselves and just got distracted - another of Chris's ideas that didn't get finished. The builder subplot was done for logistical reasons too. When you're up against a shooting schedule it's a help if you have a big set, but Chris and Rod would never have been able to afford a big house, so we built a set that looked as if they'd knocked walls down and when the time came to shoot, not a minute was wasted pulling the set apart to make room for the camera crew and then putting walls back together again afterwards. That was a nice set to do, unfinished but deliberately so - it takes a skilled painter to make a wall look deliberately unpainted.” <

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