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Capturing the Bewitching Mood
John Lindley, Ephron's longtime director of photography is a vital collaborator in capturing that mood. Their process begins with elaborate storyboards, which the production team handed out to the crew every day. In total, Ephron ended up with more than 300 pages of storyboards. And while storyboards are standard in action films, especially for the big set pieces, they are rarely used in such detail or frequency for romantic comedies.

"John and I have storyboarded the movie together with the same artist for years,” says Ephron. "When I started directing, I was afraid I wouldn't know all the shots at the beginning of the day and the great thing about storyboards is that you know you always have something you can do. You may deviate but at least you have a starting point. When you write a movie, you have a picture of every scene in your head and the storyboard is a way to articulate what you saw when you were writing it. What I learned is that you don't have to stick with everything on the board but it's still very useful because it tells you the math of the scene. It tells you how many shots you'll need and it forces you to see the movie in pictures, to know what jokes you have to make, to figure out if there is a visual point to the scene and what it is.”

The storyboards on Bewitched dovetailed with many of the discussions she and Lindley had about "Los Angeles, television and real life,” Ephron continues. "By the time we were done, we had both fed a lot of ideas into them. I started out with the idea of several famous L.A. images and we found some additional ways to put them into the movie. Neil (Spisak, the film's production designer) contributed a lot too.”

The television vs. real life aspects of the film provided Lindley with some unique and satisfying opportunities. "One of the challenging things for me about the movie was the TV show within the movie,” he says. "Usually, you take a set and put it on a stage, but in this movie the soundstage is the set. Sometimes, shooting the TV show, we'd see the set and, at the same time, the backstage area, which called for an entirely different kind of lighting. People were always transitioning from the ‘Bewitched' TV set to the backstage area and back again, so occasionally, some of the lights we used were actually part of the shot,” Lindley recalls.

Ephron contributed to this blend of reality and filmmaking by using her shooting crew as extras in the film. Production assistants on the "Bewitched” TV show worked in the same capacity on Bewitched the movie. Her script supervisor, Dianne Dreyer, played a version of herself in the film's TV show, as did Kidman and Ferrell's hair, make-up and wardrobe teams. Ephron even cast actor Michael Badalucco as the "Bewitched” TV show's beleaguered prop man, a nod to his former vocation as a movie prop master on, among other films, Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle.

Lindley notes that there were potential aesthetic pitfalls to filming a TV show.

"When Nora and I first started talking about the overall feel of the movie, we wanted it to have a certain warmth and a glow, to emphasize the romance. That was easy in the scenes we shot away from the TV show set, but most sitcoms have a certain look that is driven by the schedule. They are shot quickly and meant for three cameras to be able to capture any angle. Generally they're lit in a fairly flat way, which is not how we photograph films. So, we had to overcome that in our approach.”

Lindley says he resolved this dilemma partly by relying on the film's production designer Neil Spisak. "Neil helped us immensely in that he made the TV show sets darker than any real sitcom would ever use. So, if we lit it flatly, to mimic a TV show and to accommodate a large group of actors in a small space, there were always shadows and contrast<


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