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About The Production
As a city with a diverse ethnic base and a patchwork of distinct neighborhoods, Pittsburgh offered plenty of good locations. Most of the college scenes were filmed at Carnegie-Mellon University, which is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country thanks to its unified design scheme dating back to the 1890s. Scenes were shot on the grounds of the campus and inside some of its most striking buildings, such as Baker Hall and the Fine Arts Building, with its intimate, elliptical auditorium.

Grady's house is a restored Victorian in the neighborhood known as Friendship. Scenes were also shot at Pittsburgh International Airport and on the streets of the downtown business district. For the scenes inside and outside the Hi-Hat Club – a local drinking and dancing establishment -- two separate locations were used. The exterior was filmed in the Hill District, Pittsburgh's historic African-American neighborhood, while the interior was filmed miles away in the Modern Cafe, a North Side neighborhood bar that dates back to the 1930s.

For the Hi-Hat's facade, production designer Jeannine Oppewall used a Pittsburgh-specific design technique. An Oscar nominee for her work on "L.A. Confidential," Oppewall said: "I got a lot of inspiration by just driving all over Pittsburgh and seeing all of the old plate glass facades that were appliquéd in the '30s and '40s over the facades of old Victorian brick buildings. They got face-lifted then; now they're decrepit, they're falling apart. They reflect a Pittsburgh which like Grady, is past its prime. Wonder boys are passing to the next generation."

"Wonder Boys" takes place over three days during the winter, and although most of the film was shot during the proper season, the weather refused to cooperate. Balmy, snowless days were the norm, with only a two-week window of snowy weather during the first half of March. The warm weather brought on an early spring, and almost overnight Pittsburgh's trees were filled with blossoms and decked in bright green leaves. A special snowmaking crew was kept busy blanketing everything in sight with biodegradable fake snow, while the greensmen camouflaged trees in bloom by hiding them behind large evergreens that were brought in especially for the filming.

Despite the care given to the design, Hanson said, "the style of the film is something we want the audience to be aware of secondarily, rather than up front. I wanted the picture to have the deceptively casual visual feeling that this is the real world the characters are in and we just happened to be capturing it on film. We wanted to keep the characters in the foreground and the filmmakers in the background."

Other members of the behind-the-scenes crew include director of photography Dante Spinotti, who rejoins Hanson following his Oscar nomination for "L.A. Confidential"; two-time Oscar nominee Dede Allen ("Dog Day Afternoon," "Reds"); and costume designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor ("Psycho," "Good Will Hunting").


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