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About The Film's Design
The next challenge that lay in front of Ryan Murphy was creating a wholly unique visual world for the Burroughs and the Finches to inhabit. The idea was to capture in the film's look the very essence of Augusten's memories – an adolescent's ultra-vivid take on an emotionally askew and mentally unhinged universe set against the stylistic funk and spiritual yearning of 70s America.

Murphy knew it wouldn't be easy to nail the film's tone or to get the exact right blend of the comically macabre with the poignantly true. So he put together a trusted team that includes cinematographer Christopher Baffa, production designer Richard Sherman and costume designer Lou Eyrich – each of whom he'd worked with on "Nip/Tuck” -- and collaborated closely with them in creating his vision of an American Gothic, 70s style.

Says Dede Gardner: "Ryan was extremely involved in creating the overall look of the movie. He had a lot of ideas in his head before even taking his first meeting with the crew. And when it came to the Finch house, he didn't shy away from making a statement. I think he felt that this was an extreme life with extreme surroundings so why not display that, have fun with it, let it be dramatic and become a compelling part of the story.”

The Finch house would clearly be the visual heart of Augusten's coming-of-age, and Murphy put an intense amount of creative energy into bringing it to life. He began with Burroughs' memories of clutter and constant motion but then took off with his own vision. "I've always been taken with the cartoons of Edward Gorey so that was a big influence,” Murphy says. "Mostly, I wanted the house to be a character, to be its own special element. But it was nerve-wracking when Augusten visited the set because he might have said ‘it wasn't at all like that.' Instead, he said it seemed ‘shockingly familiar,' which I loved. He seemed to feel that we got the essence of the house.”

In bringing the sets to life, production designer Richard Sherman (whose recent credits include the acclaimed "Kinsey”) found the unabashed madness inherent in the character's lives liberating. "They're all so crazy that it sort of opened the full gamut in terms of design,” he notes. "We were able to do wild, fun things and have a really good time with them. The audience will probably see some and not others, but the cast was very aware of them and it helped to create a very strong artistic environment.”

Sherman began with Augusten Burrough's tidy childhood home, which reflects the state of Deirdre's mind before the crash-and-burn of her marriage. "The Burroughs' home was highly art directed which I thought it needed,” Sherman explains. "Young Augusten's life with his mother is very methodical and structured and you see that Deirdre has created a very clean, pristine environment. At this point, she is very ‘thought out' and knows exactly what she's going to do with her life. The house is very reflective of her and stands in stark contrast to the world to come.”

Sherman used a mid-Century private home in Los Angeles' trendy Hancock Park as a stand-in for the Burroughs' early 70s residence – but he eschewed all modern touches. "The important thing was to create a look that would be specific to this movie and not have it be a 2005 interpretation of the 1970's,” he comments. "Through the use of color and authentic furniture, we were able to come up with a look that was truly unique to the 70's – one you wouldn't see today. The colors we used are very specific to that time and not popular now. It was a completely different color scheme and a different way of life.”

Then came the piece de resistance for Sherman: the Finch home, which he knew from his extensive conversations with Ryan Murphy had to astound and provoke audiences from the second they see it on the screen. "It had to be an absolute<


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