MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
A Tale of Two Cities
Elemental to the story of Theresa and Garret are the two divergent worlds they each inhabit
Elemental to the story of Theresa and Garret
are the two divergent worlds they each inhabit. It was essential
that each world ring true, so filmmakers and production designer
Jeffrey Beecroft set about creating a heightened reality -- full
detailed and functional sets that were also cinematic.
When audiences meet Theresa, it is her job as a researcher that
defines much of her as a person, so filmmakers, striving for authenticity,
arranged an alliance with the Chicago Tribune -- the first
time in more than ten years that the award-winning newspaper has
allowed its name and image to be utilized in a feature film.
After his first visit to the Chicago building, Beecroft realized
immediately that he didn't want to reproduce the offices; the
workaday environment needed to be refashioned for cameras. He
remembers, "The Tribune has your usual corporate offices
with panels and walls separating employees. We wanted our offices
to be very neoclassic, and we needed them to reflect the characters
much more efficiently. We needed offices without panels or walls
-- yet with lots of layers."
Filmmakers wanted viewers to see that Theresa Osborne lives in
a very congested, busy world; she's a single mother in a busy
metropolis, a recent divorcee, a researcher and valuable co-worker
for a large urban newspaper. To portray this, Beecroft employed
layering -- panels of glass walls layered over more glass; reams
of papers, documents and books spread over employees' desks; desks
beside more desks. "All this layering, all this 'busy-ness,'
shows Theresa's stimulating, full work life, all the while conflicting
with the isolation and stagnation of her personal life,"
comments the designer.
Even though the offices were re-created for the film, the reality
of the paper's headquarters was always kept in mind. Beecroft
went so far as to photograph the panoramic view from the 18th
floor of the Tribune's Chicago building -- both day and night
-- so that the images could be blown up to 20-foot curtain backdrops
and placed behind the windows of his newsroom set. Filmgoers will
be provided with a perfectly matched view of the Chicago skyline.
Director of photography Caleb Deschanel utilized forced perspective,
bringing the images surrounding Theresa much closer and highlighting
her isolation in the center of her fast-paced existence. Beecroft
also inserted an atrium into the middle of the newspaper research
offices so that Deschanel could shoot through more panels of glass
and bring the passing of the seasons inside.
Construction of the newspaper set took place in a warehouse in
Los Angeles, where crews converted the structure into a soundstage
then erected steel scaffolding from which the newsroom ceiling
and office wall panels were suspended. This construction allowed
filmmakers the flexibility of shooting intimate scenes in any
of the enclosed offices by flying out walls to make room for actors,
crew, cameras, lighting and sound equipment. In addition to the
soundstage work, location shooting was also completed in Chicago.
In stark contrast to Theresa's world, Garret lives on a small
island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the town's
inhabitants exist on the bounty and recreational opportunities
provided by the sea. The beautiful coastline of Maine was chosen
as a stand-in for the chain of islands off the North Carolina
coast, utilizing various cities near the maritime town of Bath,
including New Harbor, Boothbay Harbor and Popham Beach. In addition
to the picturesque locations,<
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