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GROWN UPS

About The Lake House and the Production Design
From the beginning, it was important to the filmmakers to shoot Grown Ups on location, outdoors, at a real house on a real east coast lake. Production designer Perry Andelin Blake describes the appeal: "We really wanted it to feel real and to get the flavor of what the lake looks like when the sun is shining on the water. Being on a lake, being outside, it makes for the nice changes of mood – the light and background changes, depending on the time of day. We really took advantage – at the end of the day, the sun that would be streaming through the windows, or in the mornings, you could see the light shimmering on the water. When we're inside the house, you can see the real lake, not a blue screen lake or backdrop. It makes the whole set feel more alive.”

Still, the filmmakers would have to choose their location carefully. A film production is an enormous undertaking – not just metaphorically speaking. The square footage required is immense. To shoot in a real-world location for an entire summer could have been highly inconveniencing for the people who live there. 

So, in January, 2009, Blake and director Dennis Dugan went on the search for the perfect east coast location. Blake says, "This movie takes place in summer, but we were scouting in winter. We were looking at frozen lakes and woods with leafless trees.” 

They finally settled on a 25-acre chunk of land in Essex, Massachusetts. "We got lucky with the town of Essex,” says Dugan. "The town owns a peninsula on Lake Chebacco. We rented it from them and basically made it into a back lot.” 

The little house in Essex sat on a hill overlooking the lake in a way that the filmmakers found extremely appealing; coupled with the large space, it was the perfect location. However, the house itself would need a lot of work – it had once served as a rec center, but was no longer in use and showed it. "It was in pretty sad shape. It was all closed up and had been broken up into a bunch of little rooms,” says Blake. 

So the filmmakers began the work of transforming the location into the perfect lake house. "We took the old house and gutted it,” says Blake. "It had a low ceiling, which we opened up and put in rafters. We were able to make a big room where we could have a sense of the controlled chaos that occurs whenever several families get together. That was the most important thing; we needed a place where all of our characters could interact and flow around – the great room that everybody hangs out in.”

The filmmakers also put in a new entryway with a new front door and added a bathroom to the property, and these changes remained for the local citizens to enjoy. "We put in old wood and made it to look like it was an 80- or 90-year-old house,” Blake adds. "It's exciting to know that after we left, it's still a rec center for kids. We really did strive to leave the place better than when we got there.”

The film production did make a few more additions to the building that were movie sets only. This includes the back wing, which wraps around a tree. "This big tree was five feet back from the old building,” says Blake. "Obviously, we weren't going to cut down the tree. So we left it there in the center of the house. We worked our stairway right around it – there was even a branch coming off of it that we turned into one of the handrails. It really makes the house a unique piece of architecture – it was cool to do something that unusual. You look at the house from the outside and there it is, a living tree, growing right out the roof of the house.

The filmmakers also needed to add the house's supporting buildings. "Since the rec center wasn't a real lake house, we needed to build a dock, a boathouse, a beach, and a big grass area out to the side of it. I took a look at a lot of different boathouses and I saw some that had a rooftop

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