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MONSTER-IN-LAW

The Look Of Monster-in-Law
As a veteran of the genre, Jennifer Lopez knows that the way a film is shot, its locations, and its production design can be crucial to a film's success.

"Comedies can be bland if you don't embellish the way they are shot and staged, or if you don't use every tool available to you, the sets, the locations; all of that becomes important in this type of movie,” she says.

For this very reason, Robert Luketic chose Academy Award-winning (Titanic) cinematographer Russell Carpenter, ASC.

"I wanted someone who would make women look very beautiful and who had an artistic sense and flair,” says Luketic. "Russell's work is incredibly versatile. In looking at his films, I was struck by the poetry in each scene. Each exists as a painting, yet every movie has its own tone and texture. It's that sort of pallet of skill that I find exciting because he can light a formal scene just as brilliantly as he can something with an edgier, more frenetic, contemporary feel. He is able to create different moods throughout each film and he has a great aesthetic eye. If I could book Russell for every movie for the rest of my career, I would do it.”

For Carpenter, Monster-in-Law is a definite departure from the large-scale action pictures he generally works on. But the director of photography felt it was time for a change and was looking forward to doing something where he could spend more time focused on actors and story.

"It's a definite departure in terms of style,” says Carpenter. "I'm finding more and more that I am very much an old-school Hollywood cameraman, that I adore movies in which the actors are icons, where a great close-up is worth the price of admission. The opportunity to work with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda was just an opportunity I couldn't miss.”

Even working with two of the most beautiful women in the world, Carpenter is quick to caution that he does not take his job for granted. His job, as he sees it, is to bring out each actor's best features by accenting the different qualities and nuances of every individual.

"Cameramen have a gene that says, ‘make everybody look as stellar as you possible can,'” says Carpenter. "But Jane Fonda first saw her camera tests and said, ‘please don't go too far with all this cosmetic stuff and the filters. I want to look my age; this is not about trying to make me look 25. I want to be a woman of my age, proud of who she is.' So that was a wakeup call to me to not go overboard with everything.” "It was totally refreshing to work with a person like Jane who has no vanity about herself for all the experience, and all the films she's done. She has what I call a ‘childlike intelligence.' She is not afraid at all to ask questions or to make suggestions. She always feels like she's starting from the beginning, which shows incredible talent and character.”

Luketic and Carpenter first spent time lighting the actors, followed by the architecture around them. They made a conscious choice not to dwell in close-ups, to stay wide enough to allow the audience to see what each character is wearing and to see their surroundings.

"We wanted to stay wide enough to get a sense that this is a little bit of a costume drama,” says Carpenter. "And it is, because of the fun that the brilliant costume designer Kym Barrett had with what she created.”

There was a definite color pallet for both Charlie and Viola. Charlie's encompassed more pastels and flesh tones, limes, oranges, almost a Caribbean flavor, whereas Viola's tones followed a pattern of whites, off-whites and crèmes and black. As for Kevin, Carpenter's goal was to keep him looking rugged and to take advantage of his engaging smile because that's part of his charm for Charlie.

The color pallet was conceived early on between Luketic and production designer Missy Stewart, in tandem with costume designer Kym Barrett, who only had about six weeks of preparat

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