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Bud and Molly live in Texico, New Mexico, where their day-to-day life is pretty ordinary, low key and uneventful. The actual Texico is a tiny town in Curry County on the Texas/New Mexico border 10 miles due east of Clovis — a little too out of the way for a motion-picture production. So the filmmakers needed a town double. "We found a great town south of Albuquerque which had virtually been abandoned,” says Stern. "So we could really take it over. The people who still lived there were very gracious to us.”

The town was so perfect, in fact, that it offered the director greater flexibility, with no worries about which aspects of the town worked and which didn't — because everything he saw just "fit.” Says Stern, "The great thing about shooting in a location straight from the script is that your camera can see everywhere. If something falls into the frame, it gives it more breadth. It freed me up to shoot how I wanted to shoot the film, with no restrictions.”

In the film, when the unstoppable war machines of the two political parties learn Bud Johnson's identity, they invade this small town to battle for his attention, and more importantly — his vote — whatever the cost. The circus-like atmosphere required a considerable coordinated effort for the production to keep things believable as the town is overrun by media outlets, campaign supporters, special-interest groups and lookie-loos.

For production designer Steve Saklad, this meant the colliding of two very different worlds. "We really wanted to express what it was like to live in that small town before the onslaught,” says Saklad. "Once the outside forces arrive, there's an explosion of red, white and blue in this very beige, neutral little town.”

When the outside world starts taking over with rallies and demonstrations, Saklad took particular pains to present all sides of the political spectrum. "At our street-fair scene,” he explains, "we were careful to balance ACLU with the Minutemen Militia, the right to life with the right to choose. We wanted it clear that we were taking no particular side in the telling of this story. "

One of the great things about the script,” continues Saklad, "is the way the series of public rallies build in size. We had great fun creating a small-scale rally for Greenleaf in Vermont, then a bigger event for President Boone, and finally the extraordinary gala in Texico transformed by Hollywood designers for the occasion.”

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