A CIVIL ACTION
About The Production
"A Civil Action" features a top-rate production team and reunites director Steven Zaillian with many of his valued collaborators from "Searching for Bobby Fischer," including producer Scott Rudin, co-producer David Wisnievitz, Academy Award'-winning direc
"A Civil Action" features a top-rate
production team and reunites director Steven Zaillian with many
of his valued collaborators from "Searching for Bobby Fischer,"
including producer Scott Rudin, co-producer David Wisnievitz,
Academy Award'-winning director of photography Conrad L. Hall
("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), production designer
David Gropman ("One Fine Day," "Marvin's Room"),
film editor Wayne Wahrman ("Last of the Mohicans," "2
Days in the Valley") and casting director Avy Kaufman. Shay
Cunliffe ("Multiplicity," "Dolores Claiborne")
joins the team as costume designer, along with composer Danny
Elfman ("Good Will Hunting," "Men In Black").
The film's texture is achieved through Hall's naturalistic lighting
and a tightly controlled color palette that permeates everything
from set design to costumes. "We didn't want to romanticize
the story," Hall explains. "We wanted an almost black
and white feel, very monochromatic and very contrasty. With every
film, I try to get a sense of the story and set it into my soul
so that everything springs from it. This film is about truth and
fiction, with white standing for the truth and black being the
absence of it." Hall earned Oscar' nominations for his work
on Zaillian's "Searching for Bobby Fischer," and on
the films "The Day of the Locust," "In Cold Blood,"
"The Professionals" and "Morituri."
Zaillian uses water as a recurring visual image throughout "A
Civil Action." "It gave us opportunity for extraordinary
symbolism," observes Hall, "whether it was a mother
pouring a glass of water at dinner, lawyers drinking water in
court, a river, a dripping faucet or pounding rain."
"A Civil Action" was filmed on location in Boston and
New England, and on sound stages around Los Angeles. Principal
photography began at the Hollywood Center Studios, where craftsmen
built the interior of Schlictmann's Boston law firm. "We
followed the patterns and look of old Boston," describes
production designer David Gropman, who along with his team, recreated
details of the trial- everything from intricate business cards
to extensive court documents and depositions.
"It was like going back in time. Seeing the documents, photographs,
exhibits spilling out every which way in that office just brought
me back to that whole period," recalls attorney Schlichtmann
of his first visit to the Los Angeles set. The exterior of the
law firm was shot on Charles Street in Boston.
The most impressive set, Boston's federal courtroom, was built
at Universal City in Los Angeles. It had a 1930s neo-classical
style, boasting 24-foot-high walls and windows of equally enormous
"The idea was to create a monolithic institution that Jan
walks into, something far greater than any courtroom experience
he's had before. When Jan walks into it for the first time, it
has to be overwhelming. He's suddenly struck with the scope of
the case and the scope of his competition,"explains Gropman.
Wardrobe also plays a crucial role in defining Travolta's extravagant
persona. The real Schlichtmann wore Dimitri suits and Bally crocodile
shoes. "The Yankee tradition of not look
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