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Designing The Comedy
Across all departments, there was a mandate to ensure that the story of Funny People was told with as much honesty as possible. Producer Townsend explains: "We've tried really hard in the production design, costumes, lighting and camera work to create realism. That's always been Judd's thing: to make sure you don't take the audience out of something by using a cheesy-looking set. We've gone to great lengths to match sets on stage with exteriors, as well as shooting sets on location to heighten the realism.”

To lead a key department of the production, the filmmakers hired two-time Academy Award®- winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, known for his stunning work on such epochal films as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Producer Mendel, who worked with Kaminski on Munich, believes: "In terms of photography, this movie asked for something more ambitious than Judd's previous films. Janusz's work helps you make a pronounced, yet seamless, transition to the next kind of movie that Judd is making.”

Kaminski looked forward to participating in the project. He shares: "Judd expressed certain desires about what this movie should look like. He assured me he was ready to be a bit more sophisticated with the visual storytelling. He told me the story, and I was enticed by the idea of making a comedy that's got a bit of drama interwoven.”

To design the picture, Apatow brought on production designer Jefferson Sage, who has worked with the director since the series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. About designing the film, Sage explains: "From the beginning of our relationship, we've been very interested in spaces that are utterly real, familiar and convincing. The comedy Judd's interested in emerges from the conflicts real people have. All those issues and people are very familiar, and the spaces they inhabit needed to be the same.”

The filmmakers created different comedy clubs for the film. Sage shares, "The idea was to show how comedians go around town. They try their act one night at this club and at another club another night. It was important that the stages feel different…as if they're covering the town. One key location was the Improv Comedy Club on Melrose. Judd was insistent we film there. The other ones were exclusively built on stages.”

Details used to make the comedy club sets authentic include torn drapes, half-empty beer bottles and water stains on the tabletops. Sage's team scuffed and spotted the floors so audiences can see where countless comedians and patrons have dropped their drinks and stained the floors.

Other key locations in Funny People include George's mansion, Laura's ranch house and the apartment where Ira and his friends lived. George's home was found in Malibu. "It looked old, but it's only six to eight years old,” comments Sage. "It felt removed and lonely, as we wanted a house that George had bought lock, stock and barrel from a previous owner. He hadn't gotten around to decorating or changing anything yet. There are a lot of character things that are out of place for him.”

Laura's cozy house was one of family and comfort, a counterpoint to George's. Sage adds, "Laura's house is a gentler, more contemporary style of architecture. The locale is supposed to be Northern California, but we were lucky enough to find it a mile or two from the other house. This was after a long search through the outer reaches of Los Angeles and nearby horse country.

"Ira's apartment is the third point of the triangle,” Sage concludes. "The apartment needed to be many things that the other spaces were not. These are young guys; they're ambitious, getting into their careers and successful on different levels. The choice of a modern loft space with high ceilings and walls with pictures of fa

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