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MELINDA AND MELINDA

Production Begins In New York City
MELINDA AND MELINDA began principal photography in September 2003 and shot for seven weeks in and around New York City. Locations included Allen favorites like SoHo, Greenwich Village, the Upper East Side and Central Park, as well as Belmont Racetrack and the Hamptons.

Allen assembled a solid creative team—some members were working with him for the first time, others had collaborated with him frequently. "It's like any other job,” he says. "If you know the people and you speak the same language, things go smoothly.”

Production designer Santo Loquasto, who had worked with Allen recently on his New York-based film ANYTHING ELSE, played a key role in choosing locations. The restaurant featured in the opening scene of the movie, in which four New Yorkers gather for good food and conversation on a rainy night is Keith McNally's Pastis, a trendy French bistro located in the city's meatpacking district. Il Buco, an Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in Greenwich Village with a rustic private room downstairs lined with wine casks, served as the location for Hobie's confession of love to Melinda and a dinner between Melinda, Ellis and Laurel. The skylit loft where Ellis resides—and from which Melinda attempts to jump in a botched attempt at suicide—belonged to an illustrator and fashion designer who were friends of Loquasto. "Their loft was on the cover of a book about New York,” says Loquasto. "It was an amazing treasure at the corner of 29th and Broadway.”

Like many older buildings in Manhattan, this one had a somewhat unstable old elevator. While scouting the location in August, a claustrophobic Allen walked the 13 flights of stairs up to the loft. Loquasto and colleagues decided to risk it in the aging lift. "On the way down in the elevator, we were all talking about how awful it would be to get stuck in here,” recalls Loquasto. "We got back to the production office, and the huge East Coast blackout occurred. We couldn't believe it.”

The location for Hobie and Susan's residence was an Upper East Side townhouse, while scenes in Lee and Laurel's home were filmed in a loft on Prince Street in SoHo. "Lee and Laurel's loft is the first place we see Melinda,” says Loquasto. "It was important that the front look right because Melinda has that drawn out arrival scene there; we wanted her to have distance to travel to the doorbell. And we wanted it to look a little grittier.”

The Hamptons house owned by Melinda's blind date, Greg, played by Josh Brolin, "was quite amazing,” recalls Loquasto, "but we added the trampoline and the animal heads.”

Loquasto tries not to disturb any more than he has to at a film location. "If you've chosen right, often the location offers real cultural information about the characters,” says the designer. "Something can come through that you weren't even looking for.”

One of the newcomers to the Allen team was Hungarian-born director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond, a master at evoking the visual mood and ambiance of a story.

"A lot of people like to work with Woody. He's like a European-style director in America,” says Zsigmond, who earned Academy Award® nominations for THE RIVER and THE DEER HUNTER and won the Oscar® in 1978 for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. "He has a style that resembles all of the films I used to see in Europe.”

Like Zsigmond, costume designer Judy Ruskin Howell worked with Allen for the first time on MELINDA AND MELINDA.

Rejoining the Allen team were editor Alisa Lepselter and co-producer Helen Robin, who also worked with the director on his most recent films, CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION, HOLLYWOOD ENDING and ANYTHING ELSE. Meanwhile, the actors geared up for work on their first Woody Allen film.

Amanda Peet, who does a dead-on Allen impersonation, prepared for production by conferring w

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