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RABBIT HOLE

The Film's Design
RABBIT HOLE was filmed on location in New York, primarily in the upscale Douglaston ares of Queens, a neighborhood lined with winding, hilly streets and sprawling houses, where the production created the Corbett family's home and community in an intense 28 days of shooting.

John Cameron Mitchell worked closely with an artistic team led by cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco, who has shot all of Mitchell's films; production designer Kalina Ivanov, who recently won an Emmy® for her work on HBO's Grey Gardens; and Academy Award®-winning costume designer Ann Roth (The English Patient, The Hours).

"We were thrilled with the production team John enlisted,” comments Vanech. "It was an honor to work with Kalina and Anne, whose talent in our industry is so well respected. Their sets and wardrobes add layers of history, character and resonance to the movie. The passion and commitment they brought to the project inspired every other crew member's admiration and their own best work.”

Mitchell worked closely with DeMarco to keep everything highly naturalistic, even minimalist – and yet, just slightly askew – creating an ever-so-subtly shadowed world that for Becca and Howie is no longer quite as beautiful, bright and sexy as it was a year ago, even though the feeling of that other life lingers like a ghost in their home.

Per Saari was thrilled with the artistry the team brought to the film. "Despite our limited budget, we had a lot of talented and experienced people involved, including Frank DeMarco, Ann Roth, Kalina Ivanov and our miracle-working line producer, Caroline Jaczko. Everyone who came on board did so because they loved the script and wanted to be a part of it. The budget was lean, but I never once felt like John's vision or the integrity of the film was compromised.”

Says Mitchell of his team: "Frank's visual sense was indispensable to me, Kalina is an incredibly talented designer and Ann, of course, is a legend who brought a pedigree, a sense of humor and lots of inspiration to the production. I was just honored to have them all working together.”

Ivanov had the particularly intricate challenge of creating the Corbett's house as a living, breathing testament to a vibrant family life suddenly halted. She says she was instantly attracted to the script. "My agent called and said ‘you have to read this script, it's the most beautiful thing I've read in years' and when I read it, I agreed. It seems like a tough subject but it's done in such a poetic, humorous, surprising way. I was in Providence when I read it, and I took the first train I could to meet John to talk about it.”

Their conversations led Ivanov to think deeply about what kind of house the Corbetts would inhabit. "We agreed that the house had to carry the same emotional weight as the story,” she explains. "It had to both capture what their lives were like before the accident, but also really embody Becca and Howie's inner lives. In many ways, the house became like the third character in their marriage, and the place that gives the audience clues as to what this family was like.”

In searching for the right location for the house, Ivanov knew her criteria. "I was looking for something authentic,” she recalls, "a place that felt emotional and real, and was interesting to look at without being ostentatious. I felt that the Corbetts were the kind of people who would do their own renovation and I wanted that feeling to it. It was also important that it feel happy, that it have lots of light and a wonderful flow to it. I believe every house has a spirit and I was looking for just the right one.”

After looking at some fifty homes, Ivanov finally narrowed it down to one where a young family actually lived, lending it just the right atmosphere. Then she set about decorating the house, including their son Danny's untouched bedroom, as she felt the Corbetts would have done themselves.

At times, things became almost too real. "When the Corbetts put their house on the market, we set out an Open House sign and suddenly people from the neighborhood were coming in to take a look, as if it were really for sale!” she laughs. "The community knew we were making a film, but something about everything we did felt so real that they kind of bought into it too.”

Mitchell also recruited graphic artist and comic book writer Dash Shaw, creator of several imaginative graphic novels including Love Eats Brains: a Zombie Romance, to bring Jason's sci-fi comic books to life. "I was drawn to his work, which is full of dry humor,” says Mitchell. "Dash had to channel Jason's style and he found the perfect balance between creating something that could have been done by a high school student but is still visually compelling and full of character.”

* * *

From the comic book designs of Shaw to Frank G. DeMarco's cinematography to the performances that are the heart of RABBIT HOLE, everything centered on bringing the Corbett's reality to life. According to Urdang, "Everyone on the film – cast and crew – wanted to tell this story for the same reasons: because it goes to the heart of a universal human experience and does so with respect, integrity and just the right amount of humor.”

For Nicole Kidman, RABBIT HOLE is a story of hope and humanity. She summarizes: "I think we open up to the people in RABBIT HOLE because they're honest and genuine. Families are really like that, and it allows moviegoers to experience this journey with them.”

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