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Creating A Blanket Design
I HEART HUCKABEES plunges beneath the surfaces of its characters' lives to uncover the multi-colored connections within. But how does that become a design aesthetic? David O. Russell says, "I was drawn to a clean, classic, crisp look for the film. These are timeless questions rooted in age-old traditions, so I wanted a more traditional, European feeling. I suppose you could say the starkness of it all matches the stark truths and questions these characters face. I also find it very beautiful when a film's palette is coordinate – almost like black & white but with color tones. Maybe it also makes the world more visible as a scheme, more of an interconnected grid – and maybe it's also key to the humor at the heart of the film -- a certain formality and seriousness about these matters that persist in the middle of their absurdity.”

To help bring his vision to life, David O. Russell turned to a team of visual artists that includes cinematographer Peter Deming, ASC (MULHOLLAND DRIVE), production designer K.K. Barrett (ADAPTATION) and costume designer Mark Bridges (PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE). Working in sync, the team collaborated on color choices, lighting concepts and textures to create a clean, bright, post-modern look that highlights the inner, rather than outer world.

Russell and Deming worked out a limited palette that emphasizes starkness. "Green and red are colors that for the most part do not appear in the film – except for one red painting in the Detectives' office and the red ball that Albert and Tommy hit one another with, and that flash of red sort of evolves into a note of vitality and hope,” notes Russell. "Green is only in the trees. Instead we gravitated toward black and white and lots of blueness.”

The quality of light was also an important consideration. "We wanted brightish, flat, even light, without a lot of shadows or moodiness to it,” explains Russell. "Really, we wanted overcast days.” When nature didn't cooperate, Peter Deming erected a massive silk the size of football field to block out the sun like an ersatz sheet of clouds. "Peter is a wonderfully creative visual thinker,” says Russell.

The film was shot entirely in the Los Angeles area (though Russell notes that it takes place in "Anywhere, USA”) on locations ranging from the Marina Beach Marriott Hotel and Howard Hughes Center to Exposition Park and the contested marshes of Playa Del Rey.

For Huckabees corporate headquarters, the cast and crew took over the Madrone Complex in Torrance, California. Vacated during the demise of the dot coms a few years ago, the now-empty three-story complex offered the perfectly blank canvas on which to create the interior offices for Huckabees corporate headquarters.

Production designer Barrett wanted to create an iconic, busy, modern office environment that still somehow adhered to the film's minimalist design mission. As Barrett recalls, "David wanted to take away all unnecessary design elements and make it as simple and clean as possible.” To achieve this, Barrett relied on moveable walls made of glass and only muted colors.

David O. Russell says of Barrett, "He created Huckabees graphically, and perfectly. He was inspired in his creation of this cool, open, blow-up type of world, but also put just the right touches of fun and whimsy into it -- the melons just sitting randomly on tables in the detectives' office are my favorite. K.K. is really a co-filmmaker and a wonderful creative guy to work with.”

This whimsical simplicity also was expressed in the costume designs, which put the emphasis on crispness, to the point that blue jeans were banished from the set. "David wanted nearly colorless costumes,” explains Mark Bridges. "The way he put it is that in some ways we were doing a black and white movie. Not literally, of course, but he wanted the most con


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