About The Production
Principal photography for "Gun Shy" began with two weeks of
exteriors in New York. Central Park showed off its best greenery for scenes of
Liam Neeson's character, Charlie, being followed, and the perfect spot for Judy
Tipp's (Sandra Bullock) warehouse rooftop garden cropped up in Brooklyn, right
on the water with a panoramic view of the New York City skyline. The Red Hook
docks in Brooklyn served as the background for an action-packed boat getaway,
and exterior shots of Manhattan streets, bars, restaurants and apartment
buildings completed the setting.
Writer/director Blakeney, who grew up in the Bronx, chose to set the story in
New York because "It's the ultimate city where everyone plays their
game," and also because it is the home of Wall Street, where "Gun
Shy's" elaborate money-laundering scheme goes down.
The company moved to locations in and around downtown Los Angeles for the
concluding six weeks of production. The real magic of moviemaking came in
transforming the California sets to duplicate New York. "Production is
always tricky depending on what you're able to control," explains
production designer Maher Ahmad, "and the locations dictate a lot of it.
For instance, a very large public space may not be ideal because you can't go in
and paint it the colors you want, or the configuration may not be
"Gun Shy," according to Ahmad, "is a production designer's
dream, because design is integral to the story." The settings for the
characters not only express who they are but also their aspirations. One of the
themes of the film is that almost everyone yearns for a different life.
"The script threw out all kinds of visual cues," Ahmad says.
For example, Sandra Bullock's character, Judy Tipp, is an eccentric
personality. To represent her free spirit, Ahmad placed mannequins standing off
to the sides in her loft. "The idea is for the viewer to wonder why in the
world those are there and to realize that Judy is quirky," Ahmad says.
Ahmad's favorite find for Judy was a vintage 1920's haircurling machine.
"It was a metal helmet that she puts on her head with wires and springy
clips sticking out all over. And it actually works!"
As opposed to the fun side of Judy, there is the fearfulness in Charlie's
mind. Originally, the scene of the party at Cheemo's, played by Taylor Negron,
that pushes Charlie psychologically to the brink was intended to open the movie.
"But it was too intense," says director Eric Blakeney about the
sequence, which turns into a horrific spectacle of butchery and gore. Instead,
it was ultimately shot as a flashback. A choreographer staged Charlie's memory
of that night using professional ballet dancers. "It's a strange dance of
mad violence that unfolds in surreal images because Charlie has separated from
the reality of what's happened," explains Blakeney. "It represents his
psychotic break, and explains his state of mind when we first meet him."
To help establish the nightmarish world from which Charlie longs to escape,
Ahmad created a stylistically surreal look and feel to the Miami drug lord's
mansion. "We found an empty Beverly Hills mansion that was
unbelievable," says Ahmad. "I have seen and scouted a lot of mansions
for a lot of movies, but this was one of the most grotesquely bizarre,
architecturally, that I've ever encountered." Decked out in Cheemo's idea
of an Egyptian Greco-Roman theme for his party, the setting's excesses carry out
the idea of how repellent, and terrifying, the whole recollection of that night
is for Charlie.
"Eric and I were always talking over the emotional response he wanted
for each scene," Ahmad remarks. Even Oliver Platt's character, the ruthless
killer Fulvio Nesstra, has his subjective moments. In the<
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