About The Production
With script in hand and a go-ahead from Touchstone Pictures, writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan began assembling his behind-the-scenes team. He first called upon the talents of several of his previous collaborators, including producer Charles Okun (who began his association with Kasdan on "Body Heat"), co-producer/first assistant director Steve Dunn, co-producer/ production designer Jon Hutman and costume designer Colleen Atwood. Added to the team were co-producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton and director of photography
During pre-production, the primary challenge was to find a location that would provide the perfect setting for the town of Mumford. Production designer Jon Hutman recalls, "Once we had the script, it was sort of specific—not just what Main Street looked like, but that the town was nestled in a valley with trees, with an overlook above it. There's also a reference to the fact that Mumford was once a logging town, so you need not just mountains, but mountains that look like they have big forest-like trees."
Kasdan didn't want the location to be specifically California, but Hutman felt the geography of Northern California provided a wealth of options. His search lead him to the lush wine country of the Napa and Sonoma area, and continued as far north as Washington state. "What I tried to do was fill in the package for each area," Hutman explains.
Presented with Hutman's photos and research, Kasdan decided on the Napa/Sonoma region. "No one town had all the elements required by the script," says Hutman. "What we've had to do here is to put together all these bits and pieces 50 that Mumford walks down the street in the town of St. Helena, into a cafe in the town of Healdsburg, then to his office on a stage in Santa Rosa, and then to his house in Petaluma." He adds, "Movies are all little pieces put together anyway, even if you are in one town."
Hutman found locations in a total of eleven towns, which also included Sebastopol, Calistoga, Napa, Guerneville, Sonoma, Kenwood, and just across the Mann County line,
Once the physical locations had been chosen, Kasdan assembled his entire principal cast for five days of intensive pre-production rehearsal. Explains Kasdan, "The movie is really a series of two-handers, between Mumford and his patients. Without the rehearsal week, there would be no sense of the overriding tone of the piece."
He adds, "Rehearsal is always the most vital, scary, stimulating time. It's scary for everyone, even these wonderfully skilled actors. They're never more vulnerable than when they start to do the part in front of their peers. In a lot of movies, there's so little rehearsal, or none, that they just arrive on the day and all the hubbub is going on with the lighting and the camera. There's never just that naked moment of showing what you're going to do with the part."
Alfre Woodard describes the rehearsal week shared with her fellow actors.
"It was like acting camp. We would sit in a room at the hotel, where they had rented huge couches and love seats and overstuffed chairs, and we'd go through the script. In the evening, we'd go and hang out on the terrace in the middle of beautiful wine country."
David Paymer continues, "We talked a lot about ourselves and about changes that we had gone through in our lives as individuals. It ended up being a bit like a group therapy session.
Adds Hope Davis, "After our week of rehearsal, I felt like I'd known these people forever. Lawrence manages to find people who really work well together."
For director of photography Ericson Core, it was a thrilling challenge to work with a veteran director. Kasdan recalls, "I met Ericson, and I loved the range of his knowledge about film. He clearly wasn' t as experienced as some of the other
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