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CONNIE AND CARLA

About The Production (Continued)
The long-time comic device of characters pretending to be something else not only dovetails perfectly with the film's conceit of Connie and Carla impersonating female impersonators, but also provides an unexpected setting for the heart of the film and its message about self-acceptance. Connie and Carla disguise themselves as men, only to find that they become more deeply and profoundly in touch with their femininity. Their more flamboyant drag personas allow their talent to shine, while providing them with an opportunity to sound off (with perhaps a stronger voice than their own) about such topics as body issues, the beauty industry and about what constitutes an honest and quality relationship between two people. However, trying to suppress their own femininity while adding a false layer of exaggerated male "femininity”—an idealized version of what a man thinks it is to act like a woman—left the actresses just wanting to be girls again.

"When we were doing four weeks of shooting as drag queens every day, I missed being a girl,” says Vardalos. "I was tired of wearing heavy makeup and these gigantic wigs that I called fur hats.”

"It's almost like the way people talk about acting—putting on a hat, becoming a character,” adds Collette. "That's kind of what Connie and Carla do. They pose as somebody else and somehow, that posture helps them realize the positive parts of themselves. These girls are so beautiful, in part because of their naïveté—that's the thing that actually gets them through their entire plight. Anybody else faced with the same circumstances would just give up. But they're able to look on the bright side of everything, land on their feet and not let go of this almighty dream they have.”

Creating a believable world for Connie and Carla to inhabit turned out to be both a challenge and a delight for the talented production team that includes Oscar®- nominated cinematographer Richard Greatrex, two-time Academy Award®-nominated costume designer Ruth Myers and production designer Jasna Stefanovic.

Much of the action of the film takes place in the club where Connie and Carla perform. "We didn't want Connie and Carla to be a slick Hollywood version of the world of drag queens,” says production designer Stefanovic. "What we found through our research is that real drag clubs tend to be unglamorous places themselves that become glamorous partly through lighting, but mainly from the drag queens' personalities. As a designer, my first instinct is to make things beautiful, but in this case I had to make the place look drab and somewhat unattractive. I opted for low ceilings, worn comfy seating and layers of paint to create a patina of age.”

"On that glorious day when they picked me to direct this movie, I immediately immersed myself in drag culture,” Lembeck recalls. "I went to all the clubs. I wanted to know what the clubs look like, why the drag queens wear what they wear, what their makeup looks like, how they think, what makes them tick as performers and what their interaction with the audience is like.”

"One of the key elements of this movie for me has been working with the notion of disguises,” comments costume designer Myers. "It's been fascinating to take a peek into the world of drag queens. I felt a lot of warmth and kindness in the clubs and I've been very eager to get that on the screen. I wanted to portray the ready emotion and the strength I saw there—the beauty and the extravagance. I also wanted to treat these characters with honesty and dignity and not go too over-the-top. So dressing the girls and the boys has been challenging because it has to work on many levels.”

Director of photography Greatrex also felt that his key challenge with lighting was to help the audience buy the conceit of the two women posing as men. "I constantly had to work with their ‘masculinity' without den

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