Recreating The '70s
The task of creating a realistic 1970s Washington, D
The task of creating a realistic 1970s Washington,
D.C., fell to production designer Barbara Dunphy and costume designer
Deborah Everton. While the film was shot almost entirely on location
in Toronto, Dunphy and her crew did a masterful job of placing
the film right in the middle of our nation's capital. The centerpiece
of her design was, of course, the White House sets and, specifically,
the Oval Office.
"We were fortunate enough to inherit an existing set of not
only the Oval Office but most of the West Wing and the Great Hall,"
says executive producer David Coatsworth. "The task was to
bring it back to the Nixon era."
Andy Fleming and Dunphy actually visited the White House and were
permitted to enter both the West Wing and the Oval Office. "We
actually got a little tour," remembers Fleming. "We
were taken into the West Wing and the Roosevelt Room, and then
we went through a little hallway into another room. I said, 'you
know, this room kind of looks like the Oval Office,' and they
said, 'this is the Oval Office.'
"I used to think I was very jaded and nothing would impress
me," admits Fleming, "but I was completely floored standing
in the middle of that room."
Dunphy left nothing to chance in her Oval Office recreation, duplicating
carpets, couches, window fixtures and even the memorabilia that
covered the shelves around the room. Her biggest task was recreating
Nixon's desk, which was built from scratch from measurements taken
from the original.
Without a doubt, the White House is a central character in "Dick."
No saga about Watergate would be complete without a visit to the
place where Nixon's downfall began-the newsroom at the Washington
Post. Here again, production designer Dunphy and art director
Lucinda Zak worked their magic, producing an exact replica of
the Post offices.
"The interesting thing about the film is that, even though
we are doing a pretty far-out comedy, we wanted the verisimilitude
that would allow the audience to suspend disbelief so that when
they watch the movie everything is real," says producer Gale
Anne Hurd. "People who had been there in the '70s said our
newsroom recreation was dead-on, right down to the make of the
typewriters and the rotary-dial phones."
Dunphy and crew converted a roller rink in suburban Toronto into
an authentic '70s roller disco, gutting the entire interior and
redoing everything to turn back the clock 25 years.
The other aspect of the film's production that takes us back a
quarter of a century is the wardrobe, and costume designer Deborah
Everton pulled out all stops to convince the moviegoer that polyester
is, once again, king.
"All the characters in the film go through major changes
during the 18 months in which our movie takes place," says
Everton. "And that's especially true of the girls.
"The clothes really reflect the girls' personalities,"
she continues, "so I had the opportunity to create the ultimate
teenage wardrobe. The clothes I've selected for the two girls
is the wardrobe I dreamed about when I was a teenager!"
Writer/director Andrew Fleming didn't make Everton's job easy.
The problems caused by the film's nearly 18-month time frame were
compounded by Fleming's writing style. "I tend to write a
lot of short scenes," says Fleming. "It's a habit of
mine. But it ends up creating a tremendous amount of costume changes
for everyone, especially the girls, and it drove
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