Production Design

Production Design

Production Design was an integral and critical component of the pre-production process. 

The "medical device wall" in Jackís apartment was an aspect of production design conceived during the writing of the script. It began with the idea of a gumball machine that dispensed medication and it evolved from there.

Jackís daily medication is stylishly and conveniently dispensed on the wall next to his blood pressure monitor

"I wanted to make a visually appealing space that conveyed the Muffin Manís adaptive nature," explained Eisner, "but which also depicted the inescapable medical problems associated with obesity." 

Eisner had originally envisioned a much wider array of medical devices filling the room ... including fitting Jack with "CPAP" - a device used to treat sleep apnea (a condition commonly associated with obesity in which the extra fatty tissue around the neck of obese people results in periodic cessation of breathing). 

"It may not seem like it," said Eisner, "but in this regard, I really managed to keep myself in check." 

In the early stages of pre-production, the production company had somewhat naive hopes of landing a food sponsorship.  However, after calling about a dozen companies, they realized they were always stopped dead in their tracks with one simple question: "Will the film portray the product in a positive light?"

"We didnít want to be sued for defamation ... or be held liable for infringing on anyoneís copyright," said Executive Producer, David Workman. 

"Can microwave pork rinds be portrayed in a positive light?" mused Eisner.

The production decided to go with completely fictitious brand labels for everything (except the Blue Dog Bakery Low Fat Dog Food and Philips Heart Start Home Defibrillator). Culpepper created and fabricated over 30 of these labels for the film 

Since the Muffin Men were theorized to have spent most of their time sitting at home, the designers wanted the living space to reflect the imagined food-centric view of the species.

Michael Culpepper and Jessica Eisner came up with the concept of a fast-food apartment, "Like heís living in a mini-mart," explained Culpepper. An industrial style soda pop dispenser and refrigerator, and food warming lamps were gleaned from a Seattle restaurant supply store. The floor lamp is a modified order-wheel full of take-out menus and a winning bid on eBay led to the addition of a hot-dog rotisserie.

Jack rests on his hamburger couch after finishing a delicious meal

The focal point, as in most American living rooms, is the couch. Originally conceived as a giant peanut butter and jelly sandwich by Eisner, Culpepperís vision of a mound of ground beef eventually won out. Meat - especially raw meat - became a design theme. 

"Half of the crew didnít even realize the pattern on the couch was ground beef until we pointed it out," recalled David Workman, the Executive Producer. "It was blatant and subtle at the same time."

The set incorporated meat everywhere; in addition to the couch there was a transparent clock stuffed with meat, a hamburger painting, a hamburger lamp, a beef cuts poster, hamburger pillows, a "chili moat", hamburger candles, and, of course, the hot dog rotisserie.

The dripping meat clock was disgusting,í recalls Angel (Pumpkin). "It definitely had serial killer origins."

"We even had a parking meter with stand that had been modified and filled with ground beef!" laughed Eisner "It was one of the incongruous touches we added to make the 're-creation' of the era seem more real - by being flawed."

Cheese was a prominent food and the source of inspiration for the "cheese chair" and parmiaganno round side tables.

Eisner and Culpepper collaborated on all aspects of production design from concept to shopping for the meat - and muffins.

Snack-cake sushi or "snushi" is one of Eisnerís unique creations for the film

"There are a lot of odd details to discover in this film. Everywhere you look you can find something unique to the era of the Muffin Men," concluded Eisner. "Designing their world was a lot of fun."


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This site last modified 07/26/2015
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