The evolution of San Francisco was also an area to test the imagination of director Columbus. "I felt it was essential to create a future that had complete architectural integrity. A city like San
Francisco will never let its past die," explains Columbus, "so it is important to be true to that vision, but subtly adding to the city's already existing architecture."
The social attitude was an area to which he would pay close attention. Of the director's approach to these societal issues and his creative vision to tell the story, Williams says, "People know Chris for a certain style of movies because he has great instinct for
comedy. What people may not realize is there's an incredible literacy to him and a film literacy, a vision for something like this, a science fiction or really fantastic movie. This one offers that because it has the other side, the human edge, the behavior of the characters. That's what's interesting about doing this. He's been very open to trying different things in his
casting of different people. It's been great. He's very adamant about how the robots should look and the interrelationships of all the different characters."
Sam Neill agrees with his fellow actor's assessment, saying of Columbus, "He's the most unflappable director I've ever met. He's just extraordinarily calm and never lets anything ruffle his feathers, which is kind of amazing on something this big."
To project Columbus' unique vision and propel a cityscape as well-known as San Francisco from its current look to 200 years in the future, the director turned to the talents of Academy Award-winning production designer Norman Reynolds, who is especially well-known for his art direction on "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" and his production design on "The Empire Strike Back" and "The Return of the Jedi" in the original "Star Wars series.
"I haven't gone too far into the future," Reynolds says of his designs. "Having said that implies that I know what the future looks like, and I don't. But we've taken advantage of the San Francisco landmarks, like
the Golden Gate Bridge, to which we've added another road at high level. We've increased the size of Sausalito so that you can see it from Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. All of these landmarks are familiar to people both here and overseas.
To allow the city of San Francisco's presence to be felt throughout the film, director Columbus utilized many practical locations unique to the city by the Bay. Also featured, in Little Miss' wedding and later as the church Portia is restoring, is Grace Cathedral. With its French and Spanish inspired design and towers rising 174 feet above the street, the church has been a recognizable landmark since its construction began in
To convey the passage of the 200 years over which the story takes place Columbus had Reynolds continually modernize the characters' living spaces. The interior sets of the Martin house, for example, were built on the stages on
Treasure Island in San Francisco that would retain their classic architectural design allowing for upgrades to convey the passage of time. "We've had a number of kitchens in this movie," Reynolds says with a laugh, "like, four or five. It's difficult to change each of them but hopefully we've succeeded and I think making things simple has helped, you know, to not be too cluttered."
Not all of Reynolds' designs utilized existing structures. The World Legislature set was an undertaking that took three months to construct on the stages of Manex Studios in Alameda, California and is one of the most advanced of Chris Columbus' vision of the future. As Reynolds describes in overview, "There are a number of interiors, but the exteriors are what we use to really convey the future. What we've done is to add more buil
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