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Behind The Scenes At The Funeral
Death at a Funeral was shot on Sony Studios' Stage 23 after seven days of exteriors filmed on location in South Pasadena. Over the years, Stage 23 has served as the shooting venue for a series of films for Screen Gems. It was originally built as a Spanish-style apartment building for Quarantine, became a traditional home in The Stepfather, a modern home in Obsessed, a nightclub in Takers and, following Death at a Funeral, it became an apartment building for The Roommate and a burlesque club for Burlesque.

For this film, production designer Jon Gary Steele recreated the elegant interior of a Craftsman-style house, where most of the frenzied comings-and-goings take place. "We scouted dozens of locations and ended up going in the direction of a shingled home in Pasadena,” Steele says. "We shot the exteriors on location and then we created the interior we needed on the soundstage. The director wanted hints about Edward's secret life scattered throughout the house, so we placed sculpture, paintings and photographs everywhere that point to it, if you know what you're looking for.”

He describes the interior of the house in the British film as "much lighter, but Neil, the director of photography and I all liked the idea of making walls very dark and rich with lots of wood and great wallpapers.”

"There's a wonderful collision between the conservative tones of the Craftsman house and the uncorked insanity that's going on beneath this roof,” says Horberg.

LaBute and director of photography Rogier Stoffers wanted the setting of Death at a Funeral to have the realistic look more often associated with drama. "Often with comedies they use what I think of as ‘comedy lights,'” says LaBute. "They just throw things up and if you can see it, that's great. I wanted to have something that maintained a dramatic film quality. That's why I brought in Rogier to gave things a painterly quality.”

"Everybody initially asked why isn't it light and bright?” says Stoffers, who worked with LaBute on his previous film, Lakeview Terrace. "We thought that if we created this fancy, classic, almost solemn environment and then slowly told a story that starts to unravel, getting crazier and crazier, it would create a nice juxtaposition between two worlds. When the coffin falls open and these people sitting in this beautiful dark environment in their black suits begin to go completely out of their minds, it really works!”

Costume designer Maya Lieberman used clothing both to set the scene and to impart crucial information about each of the characters. A story taking place over the course of only one day, as it does in Death at a Funeral, provides a costume designer with specific challenges. "You might assume that it's very easy to do a movie with each actor wearing only one costume throughout,” she says. "It's actually more difficult. When you have only one shot to tell the story and develop the character through the clothes, there's a lot more importance on that one look. And since we were dealing with a funeral, we were confined to a certain palette of colors, which accentuates the challenge in differentiating the characters.”

For Cynthia, the grieving widow, Lieberman balanced the character's natural flamboyance with her concern for propriety in the face of her husband's death. "Loretta Devine has such a great big personality and I wanted that to show in her clothes,” says the designer. "The best part of her costume is a teeny, tiny feather funeral hat which at a certain point starts to do the wiggle. It brings just a little touch of comedy in the clothes, especially when Oscar's high and he's staring at it. We definitely didn't want the comedy to come from the clothes in this movie, but there's a little bit right there.”

For Martin Lawrence's character, Lieberman selected an expensive suit with a bit of edge. "Ryan wants everyone to feel his vibe when he walks into a room,”<


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