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The Perilous Production
Alarmingly, the filmmakers were adamant that "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events” remain true to the unusual spirit and style of the best-selling books. The film had to capture the unpredictable tone of the series, its timeless setting and its extreme woefulness. To fully realize his vision for the movie adaptation, director Brad Silberling was passionate about assembling the best possible production crew.

The distinctively stylized production design was placed in the hands of the Oscars-winning production designer for "Sleepy Hollow,” Rick Heinrichs.

"One of the great things about the world I was asked to create is that once you're in it, you're not exactly sure where or when you are,” says Mr. Heinrichs. "The film gives you a sense of a parallel universe, and has an ‘other worldliness' to it that is familiar and yet unfamiliar at the same time.”

In fact, the production design for "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events” is so prominent that it is virtually another unfortunate character in the story, especially since a series of terrible things happen to it, including a fire, a hurricane and dim lighting. To develop this "character,” the filmmakers made the audacious decision to shoot the entire film on Hollywood soundstages.

"The biggest challenge in making this movie was that, basically, we were creating a world on a stage,” explains Mr. Silberling or an impostor who looks and sounds exactly like Mr. Silberling. "Therefore, because we shot everything in the tradition of old Hollywood stage pictures, we really had to examine each scene to ensure that the look we got had a timeless quality which incorporated both contemporary and somewhat period textures. In that way, we were able to tell the story in a very controlled environment in terms of light, sound and atmosphere.”

An art department under the supervision of production designer Mr. Heinrichs was assembled nine months before principal photography began. The conspiracy included two-time Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("Sleepy Hollow,” "A Little Princess”), supervising art director John Dexter ("Planet of the Apes”), three-time Oscar®-nominated set decorator Cheryl Carasik ("Men in Black,” "The Birdcage,” "A Little Princess”), Academy Award®-winning costume designer
Colleen Atwood ("Chicago”) and set designer Luke Freeborn ("Arrested Development”), who built many of the models that would serve as prototypes for the sets.

"Rick Heinrichs was at the top of my dream team list because his production design has a way of communicating a very tactile yet imaginative world,” says Mr. Silberling. "The look he has created is very handmade, perhaps a little on the gothic side, but at the same time it's exciting, beautiful and really spectacular.”

"It was great working with Brad because he's very visually oriented,” says Mr. Heinrichs. "From the beginning, he wanted to anchor his story and its characters in an environment that made sense, so he was involved with the art department through every step. When we ended up with a vaguely American look that we called ‘a Dickens New England,' we were all very pleased. It was exactly what we wanted.” Unlike Dickens or New England, however, the production design included a giant garden ornament shaped like a snake.

An important contributor to the look of "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events” is director of photography Emmanuel ("Cheevo”) Lubezki, another suspicious person who appeared on the director's dream team list, as well as various other wanted lists.

"Cheevo is somebody like myself who loves to find emotional beauty in the oddest of circumstances,” says Mr. Silberling. "He found a way, with lighting and composition, to create an extraordinary look for the film.”

Throughout the pre-production period of "Lemony Snicket,” the art department immersed itself in massive am


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