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LEATHERHEADS

Locations And Design
Filming for the production began in South Carolina in February 2007. In early April, the company moved to North Carolina, where it completed the remainder of the shoot. Initially, Leatherheads was based out of Greenville, South Carolina, the home of a BMW test track. A cavernous, former BMW warehouse became home to the production office, the wardrobe and art departments and a few sets. Several tiny outlying towns provided locales for the rest of the South Carolina photography. The company was even more mobile in North Carolina, moving from Charlotte to Winston-Salem to Statesville over the course of a month and a half.

The Carolinas offered multiple attractive elements, as producer Grant Heslov points out. The most attractive of all was the production’s interest in not freezing to death. He provides, “The movie takes place in the Midwest, and football is obviously played from the fall into the winter. We needed that skyline, but we were also going to be shooting for a number of months. If we had gone to the Midwest in February to film these scenes, we would have frozen. The climate was more temperate in the Carolinas, though we did have our share of cold days and nights.”

Weather was not the only factor. “We also needed period trains and railroads,” he continues. “That’s how the teams traveled, and we had access to several of those in North Carolina. Additionally, we needed football fields that didn’t look contemporary, and there were several stadiums and schools that provided those settings and afforded us adjacent areas for support vehicles and trucks and trailers. Plus, there are film incentives in both states. All in all, it was ideal.”

The small towns in South and North Carolina generously supported the production. The tiny city of Greer, its storefronts virtually unchanged since the 1920s, allowed the crew to redress façades, even offering up one shop as a set. Leatherheads filmed there for several nights, virtually shutting down the village. In Statesville, North Carolina, where the production ended its journey, the company revamped the historic Vance Hotel, built in 1921; a scene was even rewritten to make use of the hotel’s subterranean swimming pool.

Across the street, the imposing Richardsonian Romanesque-style government building served as a set for several scenes, and the nearby civic center became the base for catering and support vehicles. Some of the sequences shot in Statesville required rain, so the special effects department lugged in rain towers, to the awe of the crowd of fans who regularly appeared to watch the goings on.

Throughout the Carolinas, the filmmakers found several stadiums that were built in the 1920s. The trick was to populate them with fans, especially as Carter Rutherford’s amazing plays and star quality begin to draw respectable crowds to the new pro-football league games. While more than 200 extras signed up to boo and/or cheer, the shots had to be designed with visual effects in mind. As the sport’s popularity increases throughout the film, so does the size of the crowd and stadiums. The art department would build the façade of a huge brick stadium entrance, for instance, but effects supervisor TOM SMITH and his department would augment everything in postproduction. While all this “digital football” was a challenge, it was made much easier by the elaborate storyboards Clooney used and made available to all the crewmembers.

Clooney film veterans, production designer Jim Bissell and costume designer Louise Frogley, were in sync with their respective specialties. This partnership was especially evident in scenes shot at the Calhoun Hotel in South Carolina. This 1920s era hotel was being converted into condominiums until Leatherheads persuaded the real

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