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BRIDESMAIDS

Locations and Design
Production designer Jefferson Sage's work with Judd Apatow and director Paul Feig began during their Freaks and Geeks days. Recalls Sage: "I was lucky enough to be hired to jump in on that show when they were putting it together. Over the years, I've worked with Paul and Judd off and on as they had projects that came up. The first thing that appealed to me about Bridesmaids was that you had these two disparate worlds: There was Annie's world in Milwaukee, and then there was Helen's world in Chicago. It immediately drew this dichotomy between the rivalry that developed between them.”

L.A. as the Midwest

While the comedy takes us back and forth between the two cities, the production actually shot in Los Angeles. About cheating L.A. for these cities, Sage acknowledges: "Sets that are interiors are much easier to fudge, but we looked for architecture that would give us those Midwestern worlds. Chicago is a beautiful, distinctive city architecturally, and restricted views of downtown L.A. feel like Chicago. It was also a question of hunting and finding buildings that had the right feeling for Milwaukee.”

As Annie, Lillian and the bridesmaids head back and forth between the two cities, the production had to make it look as if they were not traveling along the West Coast. Notes Sage: "We looked at surrounding towns to find places that would sell for Milwaukee, and our challenge was the landscape. In the story, Annie meets Officer Rhodes on the highways between Milwaukee and Chicago. Since we had to have a Midwestern landscape, we ended up in Oxnard—a broad, flat, green area away from mountains.”

The Fitting

When the ladies take Helen to go shopping at the most exclusive bridal shop in Chicago, all digestive hell breaks loose. By bringing them into Sage's selfdescribed "pristine, white inner sanctum of bridalness where they are surrounded by beautiful fabrics, beautiful white carpet and priceless silk,” Feig received maximum payoff for the earlier scene in which the bridesmaids had just eaten an unsanitary lunch.

The production designer worked with his director and set decorator DOUG MOWAT to get the characters trapped in just the right way…so that when it was time for things to explode, there was no escape. They had to run into one another as they raced toward the onetoilet bathroom. Sage cringes: "It was all designed to increase the discomfort. It was a very limited palette: all white. If you have to be sick, what's the worst thing that you could besmirch?”

It took some time to create the perfect bridal-shop set. DP Yeoman weighed in on what fabrics offered the perfect tones and wouldn't present lighting problems as they shot. The decorators re-created one of the most exclusive of shops that requires appointments months in advance. Though Annie can't get them in the door, Helen can. She rules this world.

Somewhat unique to this film, production design and locations were inextricably linked to costume design. Sage worked with costume designer Leesa Evans to ensure that the color palettes chosen in set design married with Evans' choices for outfits. Sage notes, "There were a lot of conversations such as ‘Which dress works with that set? Here's a picture of the dress; now what are the wall colors?' I sent color-palette studies to Leesa, and she would call me if there was a color problem. We kept it in sync.”

For Evans, it was key to ensure that the dresses didn't border on ridiculous. She says, "I think one of the biggest challenges of a movie like this is not to make a caricature of what this whole wedding business is about. When you get six women together and you have the engagement party and the shower and the wedding, there's a tendency to take it over the top on every level. I hope we got the right tone in which we're being funny and a bit ironic, but at the same time showing the reality of these events.”

The actresses' many costumes were not the only inspirational clothing on the set. Mumolo notes: "Paul is ‘Dapper Dan.' He was dressed to the nines every day. He wore suits and fedoras, and he's a perfect fit for this movie. He's very in touch with female sensibilities, sensitive to women, and helped us preserve that. He was very good about keeping on point and maintaining the integrity of our ideas.”

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