I Don’t Know How She Does It and Shooting Locations in New York
I Don’t Know How She Does It follows a Boston-based working mother trying desperately to juggle marriage, children, and a high-stress job. Kate Reddy devotes her days to her job with a Boston-based financial management firm. At night she goes home to her adoring, recently-downsized architect husband Richard and their two young children.
It’s a non-stop balancing act, the same one that Kate’s acerbic best friend and fellow working mother Allison (Christina Hendricks) performs on a daily basis, and that Kate’s super-brainy, child-phobic young junior associate Momo (Olivia Munn) fully intends to avoid. When Kate gets handed a major new account that will require frequent trips to New York, Richard also wins the new job he’s been hoping for—and both will be spreading themselves even thinner. Complicating matters is Kate’s charming new business associate Jack Abelhammer (Brosnan), who begins to prove an unexpected source of temptation.
I Don’t Know How She Does It began principal photography in New York City on January 17, 2011 and completed its eight-week schedule in mid-March. Though set in Boston and Manhattan, the vast majority of the shooting took place in New York City. It fell to veteran production designer Santo Loquasto to find New York locations that would convincingly represent the story’s Boston settings and offer strong visual contrast to the sequences set in Manhattan.
Says McGrath, “Santo Loquasto is one of the great production designers in the movies, and in the theater. I think he knows New York City better than the police. He has an extraordinarily discerning eye, and found us the best locations.” The leafy, townhouse-lined streets of Brooklyn Heights stood in for the Reddy family’s Back Bay neighborhood in Boston, while a stately early-twentieth-century office suite overlooking Madison Square became Kate‟s Boston workplace.
Costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus had the challenge of taking an actress who has become familiar to so many as an iconic New York character and transforming her into a vastly different persona. Kate Reddy is a far cry from Carrie Bradshaw, and Sarah Jessica Parker embraced the change. “Sarah Jessica knows that the right costumes will inform the character,” says Kalfus. “Kate’s a mom and a very distracted dresser. Clothes aren’t her first priority, so she has things that she kind of grabs and will throw together. At the same time, she gravitates towards feminine pieces that will work in a corporate environment.”
A highlight of the filming for Parker and Brosnan was the sequence at the bowling alley in Cleveland. Cast and crew made their way from Manhattan through Queens the morning after a major blizzard to a 1960s-era bowling alley, where the actors spent most of the day rolling their share of strikes, spares, and gutter balls. “That was one of our most enjoyable days on the set,” says Douglas McGrath. “Pierce came in saying, “I can’t bowl; I can’t bowl; this is going to be terrible”– just like Jack in the script. Well, I don’t even know who the great bowlers are, but Pierce turned out to be the Fred Astaire of bowlers, let’s just put it that way. And Sarah Jessica, she gets that ball and she hurls it down there. We had a great time.”
The final ten days of filming took place at the Cine Magic Riverfront Studios in Brooklyn, where production designer Loquasto built the entire ground floor of Kate and Richard’s Boston townhouse. Every last detail of this set delineated venerable Boston housing stock that was now home to a 21st-century American family. No bit of clutter was overlooked.
“There‟s a scene where Kate and Richard are at home for dinner, and finally the kids have gone to bed,” remembers McGrath. “There’s that feeling that many parents know which is, “whoosh! they’ve gone to bed.‟ In the first half of the scene, all Sarah Jessica is doing is clearing the dining room table, which is a dumping ground, as it is in many homes with children. She’s taking all the children’s things, and the magazines, and the bills, and everything else, and putting them in chairs, and then pushing the chairs under the table. And Greg is bringing two things out of the microwave to put on the table for them to eat. I think there will be people who recognize that sequence of events.”
Parker expresses hope that like its source, I DON‟T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT will entertain and engage audiences of both genders. “I think that it’s a story that husbands and wives, and boyfriends and girlfriends, and boyfriends and boyfriends, and girlfriends and girlfriends can come to,” she remarks. “Doug set out to make an honest comedy about work, love and parenthood and that’s what he’s done.”