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OUR FAMILY WEDDING

Filmmakers Craft Realistic Sets
Principal photography on OUR FAMILY WEDDING took place for six weeks on location in and around Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

The first day of filming was at the Monique Lhuillier bridal boutique on Melrose Avenue where Lucia, her mother and sister attend a bridal party fitting. The logistics of shooting in that venue became daunting for the 100 plus cast and crew-members who faced the ongoing challenge of loading equipment into the compact space and completing filming in just one day. But they did it.

Then it was off to another challenging location, the Lucia Ramirez' family home. For this set, the director, production design team and location department chose an historic, Victorian home situated in the Angeleno Heights section of Los Angeles. There are a number of historic homes that have been restored and others transported on flatbeds from other parts of the city to this newer location. The grandeur, immaculate detailing and beauty of the Ramirez home became rivaled by the challenges of shooting in its impossibly close quarters. "Homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries were designed with multiple rooms and parlors,” explains production designer Linda Burton. "But they tended to be smaller inside than one would think looking from the outside.” Like before, this meant fitting massive amounts of equipment into small rooms, along with the cast and crew, for the week-long shoot. "It looks great on film,” says producer Wolfe, " but we sure were happy to move on.”

Perhaps the largest and most involved shooting location became the "Brad House” set, a sleek mid-century modern residence where Forest Whitaker's character lives in the film. Built in the late 40's and completed in 1951, the house remains steeped in Hollywood folklore. Frank Sinatra once lived there; Lucille Ball rented the house for herself and two children after divorcing Dezi Arnaz; Marilyn Monroe's last photo shoot took place in the home's swimming pool; Judy Garland was married on the property; and more recently, Paul McCartney was heard playing the piano at the house. Located in Chatsworth, atop a hill at the end of a steep winding road, it's no wonder the film's production designer Linda Burton found this locale an enchanting place to stage the pre-wedding scenes. Besides its breathtaking vistas, she says the simplicity of the house provided great creative freedom. "We used lots of beautiful oranges, reds, and golds to embody the warm, festive feeling of the bride's Latin culture,” she says. This warm look was in stark contrast to the minimalist, simplicity created for Brad's house.

While all bets were off on whether the young couple would actually make it down the aisle, nonetheless wedding rehearsal scenes and other pre-wedding events were filmed during a two-week period. This involved the cast and crew and hundreds of extras – all working in 100 plus degree, dry heat. "We put on lots of sunscreen, wore hats and kept going,” says Famuyiwa praising his cast and crew for delivering on all front, beyond his expectation. "It's a testament to the talented people involved in making this film,” he says. "People were working crazy hours, it was hot and yet we were still having a great time. I felt very blessed.”

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