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LITTLE MAN

About The Production
The Wayans filmmaking family is comprised of many repeat behind-the-scenes department heads including director of photography Steven Bernstein, ASC (Scary Movie 2, White Chicks) and costume designer Jori Woodman (White Chicks). They and two-time Oscar®-winning production designer Leslie Dilley were charged with executing the director's vision for the overall look of the film, working closely with visual effects supervisor Alex Bicknell and visual effects producer Rob Yamamoto to accommodate their technical needs for placing the composite character of Calvin in the movie environment.

Since Little Man is first and foremost a comedy, all departments worked to enhance the humor. "Keenen gives all department heads parameters in which to work. He tells us his overall design concept of the film and the purpose of each scene and then he allows us to do our jobs,” says Bernstein.

"Initially, we discussed how we would execute this story of a little person. We talked briefly about building oversized sets to accommodate Marlon's apparent height of two-foot-six,” recalls production designer Dilley. "That would have been a lot more difficult as it would have involved huge builds and double-sized furniture. So that was eliminated early on and we decided on the visual effects route, which meant hundreds of reduced head replacement shots.”

On Little Man, Bernstein notes that he used multiple cameras and a fluid lighting system, "in which your key light moves with the subjects but discreetly and subtly enough that there are no shadows. That facilitates the comedy because it allows the actors to move around pretty much wherever they want.”

The visual effects also had to be incorporated into the comedy scenario, says Bernstein, which was a delicate balancing act. "Our goal was to draw attention away from the effects even though the entire conceit relies on the audience believing that Marlon is only two and a half feet tall. We want the audience to believe that the story takes place in an ordinary suburban world involving a two and a half foot adult criminal who bears an uncanny resemblance to a child. If at any point, they don't buy that premise, the comedy becomes much less effective.”

Marlon's body double, Linden Porco, is a young man "with lots of ideas of how he wanted to move around,” adds Bernstein. "Ideally, from a technical standpoint, we would just have put him in a chair and had him talk. But we knew if we did that, the dynamic of the character would be lost and it would sap the film's humor. Thanks to our visual effects supervisor, Alex Bicknell, and our wardrobe department, we found a way to basically give him free reign.”

Carefully matching the lighting between the production and green screen footage was vital to maintaining the illusion. "When we shot the body double interacting with the other actors, we made specific notes about the position of the camera, its precise angle, the focal length of the lens and what style of lighting I was using in a particular scene,” says Bernstein.

Bernstein also had an assistant who took digital photographs of every setup as a log of light readings for every exposure. The lighting was then replicated on the sound stage as was every other detail, a time consuming, but ultimately rewarding task, according to Bernstein.

Dilley's art department recalibrated the heights of surfaces like the kitchen counters so that Calvin could sit on them and be in frame with the adults in the scene. Jori Woodman's costume department also had to be mindful of the scale between the two actors playing Calvin. "The film's color palette keyed off the fact that the Wayans brothers are African-American,” explains Woodman. "They have this beautiful skin color so they can wear really strong vibrant colors – like orange, aqua and yellow - which work really we

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