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Read these Production Notes excerpts to find out how Santa Barbara influenced the overall aesthetic in It's Complicated. Or, click here for the entire finished notes. Happy reading!
Although the majority of It's Complicated is set in Santa Barbara, California, three-quarters of the filming, including nearly all of the interiors, took place in New York City. Principal photography began February 18, 2009, in Brooklyn at Broadway Stages, where the scenes that take place at Jane's house were shot. The opulent, full-scale set depicted the warm, inviting Santa Barbara style.
During the early days of filming, it was up to director of photography John Toll to develop the look that would dovetail with and enhance the work of production designer Jon Hutman (on his fourth collaboration with Meyers) and costume designer Sonia Grande. Meyers knew Toll could offer the style of camerawork she wanted.
Nancy Meyers reflects on her reasoning for selecting the two-time Oscar® winner as her DP: "I once read an interview with a cinematographer who said, 'Faces are my landscapes.' That comment reminds me so much of John's philosophy. When you have someone like Meryl in your movie, you see her character's story through her eyes. You live the journey with her, and John's meticulous attention to detail takes the audience on that journey. His lighting is so delicate and so painterly. I was blessed to have that kind of an eye on every frame of our movie. John also has a home in Santa Barbara, so there was no need to explain the look of Jane's world to him; he lives it. Since 70 percent of the movie takes place in and around Jane's house, it was important to find someone who could translate that. John surpassed all my expectations in doing so."
Nancy Meyers is always meticulously involved in creating the look of her films, and this was one of her favorite parts of the preproduction period. The process began early as she assembled representative photos that struck her as appropriate. She shared these with Hutman and costume designer Sonia Grande to pique their creativity and eventually arrived at an organic, integrated style.
In the case of It's Complicated, Meyers felt early on that it was important to have the color orange play a prominent part in the color scheme, "because it seems to be the dominant color you see in Santa Barbara," she explains. "All of those red-tile roofs that create a rich, orange glow against the sky. I wanted that feeling to continue into Jane's house. I wanted a lot of earth colors to bring the outside in, because so much of the film takes place inside the house. I wanted to keep Southern California alive…even when we were indoors."
Hutman helped Meyers create a visual elegance that spreads into the other senses, so that audiences can almost feel the tactile surfaces of Jane's kitchen, smell the herbs in her garden and taste the fabulous pastries of her bakery. "We wanted to give the audience the experience of what it would be like to live in this part of Southern California," says Hutman. "Santa Barbara is such a beautiful place, and we tried to capture many of the qualities that make it special. For an audience to feel what it's like in Santa Barbara is to help them identify with these characters."
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