When it comes to psychic phenomena and psychics, one likely believes or doesn’t. Eva Longoria Parker had never experienced a séance or talked to the dead. Lake Bell was more of a non-believer until she visited a well-known psychic who honed in on things from Bell’s private life. After that reading, she began to believe that there often is a higher power behind a medium.
The overall look and feel of the film was a very important factor in the pre-production stages. Production designer Cory Lorenzen developed fun, unique designs before he met with director Jeff Lowell and then the two fine-tuned the ideas. Romantically textured environments were the primary themes. With six weeks planning prior to principal photography, an overall floor plan and geography was created that would be conducive to telling the story. The concept became a blended mix of Spanish craftsman and romantic revivals combined with the romanticism of Los Angeles.
The interiors of Ashley and Henry’s apartments were built on a soundstage. The interior of Ashley’s apartment on the stage was matched with the exterior of a location apartment building so there would be complete accord between real and built sets.
The story dictated some of the geography and interaction between living rooms and bedrooms, so hallways and arches were made wide enough to accommodate actors and crew in confined areas. The sets needed to look real, but also needed to interact well with the film environment. This was especially important for John Bailey, ASC, the film’s highly renowned director of photography, so he could have as much freedom and flow as possible during the shooting.
Characters’ personalities were fine-tuned to reflect their apartments and work spaces. Ashley’s apartment, for example, was a bit eclectic, comfy and messy to amplify her eccentricities. For Henry’s veterinarian office, the living and dining areas of a real Craftsman-style house were utilized. The home’s real furniture and accessories were stored away and in its place medicinal tools and furniture were layered in the interior. This provided a perfect design layout for the dog visit scenes to the doctor’s office.
There were three distinct weddings that were filmed. This included Kate’s big, extravagant wedding that opens the film and which was shot at legendary producer and music icon Dick Clark’s Malibu compound located on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. There was also a small, whimsical wedding affair shot in a backyard, and the final scene in a beautiful Anglican church filled with angel motifs. Each wedding, while somewhat similar in feel, taste and style, helped further define characters so they seemed different and made the story come full circle.
For wardrobe styling, costume designer Tracy Tynan worked closely with Jeff Lowell and Eva Longoria Parker to create Kate’s many looks. It was agreed that Kate should wear white through the movie since it was more of a ghostly image. Kate’s clothing changed according to the environment she was in.
“I think the wardrobe reflects that I haven’t quite given up this life that I am no longer a part of,” notes Longoria Parker, whose clothing was made expressly for her.
Tynan knew the main casting choices well in advance, which is rare, so she had time to consider what would look good on each actor rather than imposing a style on a blank canvas. Given that Ashley has not really yet found her place in life, her wardrobe is more eclectic with a certain style. Chloe is more a fashion victim, so she always tries new things to wear. Henry is a more straight-forward and regular guy, so he wears nothing flamboyant or too stylish. Dan, who may or may not be gay, is more fun without being too out there and wears an earring and necklace. Perhaps the most daunting challenge for the wardrobe department was creating costumes for 240 extras acting as airport and airline personnel.