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THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

Special Sets
"Most people have no idea about the complicated life goin' on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don't know anything about.” -August

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was shot on location during the months of January and February 2008, primarily in Burgaw, a small North Carolina town outside Wilmington. Much of the movie was filmed in a beautiful old house, painted Pepto-Bismol pink, just like in the book - though it took the director three attempts before she finally settled on the right shade. "The first time we painted it, I actually loved the color but it was a little too salmon,” the director explains.

"Then we went too Pepto Bismol and it was just wrong. Finally, we arrived at this happy medium that everybody was pleased with.”

With the exterior in place, production designer Warren Alan Young, together with his property master and set-decorating crew, proceeded to transform the large old house into a 1960's home, referencing magazines and catalogues from the era. "With writer Sue Monk Kidd's help, we came up with a history for the house that put it near the end of slavery, when the Boatwright sister's grandparents would have acquired the home,” Young explains.

One of the film's other pivotal sets, May's "Wailing Wall,” was constructed as a two feet by two-and-a-half-feet-wide stone wall, just large enough for Okonedo to sit on, per the director's request. It was that kind of care that stamped the film.

Honored when renowned African-American artist Charles Bibbs agreed to collaborate with the filmmakers to create signature artwork for the honey jars featured in THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, the design process became an exciting and fruitful one. Following multiple design consultations and subsequent conversations, Bibbs' initial sketches included pencil renderings, which later evolved into color, before the artist finalized his image of the Black Madonna.

A highly respected contemporary artist who has enjoyed success with his fine art and popular graphics, Bibbs internationally acclaimed body of work is a fusion of cross-cultural themes including African, African-American and Native American aesthetics. Also a committed cultural philanthropist and community leader, his leadership has culminated in the establishment of numerous non-profit arts and media organizations benefiting minority artists and youth across the nation.

But all those involved knew this production was something special, something significant. Prince-Bythewood kept thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. - particularly when she found herself and her team shooting on his birthday. "I found it fascinating that, at the time this movie takes place, he was alive fighting for us,” she says. "You look around the crew and it's very diverse. That was his dream - that we could all be there, putting this story on the screen.”

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