Say It Isn't So : Production Information

MOVIE POSTERScreenwriters Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow conceived their unique theory of "relativity" in 1998, after abandoning their stand-up comedy acts to concentrate on films. Their first effort, an unproduced black comedy called "Mountain Fever," which poked fun at the dramatic and tragic 1996 Mt. Everest disaster.

The pair next set out to scale new comic heights with "a funny romantic comedy," per Swallow. "Many of the romantic comedies we see are big on romance and low on comedy. They're not very funny. So, we decided to try something that was big on comedy and throw in a little romance."

Swallow credits his partner for coming up with the film's concept. "Peter just came up with this scenario of this guy falling in love with his sister, but then finds out it may not be his sister," he remembers. "That's all we initially had."

After Gaulke and Swallow completed the first draft of their screenplay, they decided the concept was tailor-made for Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly. Eventually, the script landed on the desk of the Farrelly's producing partner, Bradley Thomas, whose reaction was telling in its own right. "I thought someone was playing a gag on me," Thomas relates. "I was sure Peter and Bobby had written this. There were these two names on the title page, Gaulke and Swallow, which I figured were pseudonyms. So, I looked them up on the Internet. When I couldn't find any other credits for them, I was convinced the brothers were playing a joke on me. "

When Thomas realized the script wasn't a Farrelly gag, he gave it to them to read. The brothers's reaction was strong. "We thought it was really funny - just the type of thing we laugh at," says Peter Farrelly "But it's more than just outrageousness; it's a love story, about people drawn apart by a mistake. It gets very complicated and crazy, but true love wins out. "

While audiences may look at SAY IT ISN'T SO as a patented Farrelly Brothers movie, Bobby Farrelly says that isn't necessarily so. "It's a Gerry Swallow-Peter Gaulke- J. B. Rogers movie," he emphatically states. "We read the script and thought it was hysterical, and asked 'How come this isn't getting made?' As producers, we were in a position to help get it made. "

The Farrellys and Thomas brought aboard J. B. Rogers to direct. As the Farrellys's assistant director, Rogers had seen and heard it all on the sets of each of Farrellys's four features. "We'd been looking for something for J. B. to direct because he's really been like a third director on our movies," says Peter Farrelly.

"Right from our first movie, dumb & Dumber (1994), I thought J. B. could go out and direct himself," Bobby adds. "So, we'd always been looking for a script, and when this came along, even though we hadn't written it, we thought this would just be great for J. B. "

Rogers, who had been talking for a while with the Farrellys about directing, embraced the opportunities of helming his first picture. "I've been with these guys for so long, I kind of knew how this movie needed to be shot and structured," says Rogers. "SAY IT ISN'T SO is definitely in the vein of your traditional Farrelly brothers film, because it has big laughs and characters with hearts of gold.

"Peter and Bobby have a real light sense of humor; they're not mean spirited at all," Rogers continues. "A lot of movies have tried to copy the Farrellys's style, but most don't have their good-hearted quality. Peter and Bobby's characters are always trying to do the right thing, which allows them to get away with some of craziness and outrageousness So, people laugh at the situations instead of being repelled by them. And that's what I also liked about Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow's script for this film. "

Chris Klein certainly found the situations to be funny - and then some - when he read the script. "I was on an airplane and just laughing hysterically," he recalls. "People three and four rows behind me were looking to see why I was laughing my butt off. I looked forward to getting into the story's crazy circumstances and having fun with them"

Klein's co-star, Heather Graham, appreciated the film's mix of comic and emotional elements. "Because Gilly and Jo can't be together and it's very tragic, like 'Romeo and Juliet,'" she notes.


"When people think about broad comedy, they always think that you must play it crazy, wild and funny," notes Peter Gaulke. "But the best way to approach comedy is to play it real. And that's exactly what we needed for Gilly - someone real. I don't think there are many guys who could do this role, but Chris was great, just perfect. "

"When we were writing the script, we were thinking along the lines of a younger Nicolas Cage," Swallow admits, "because he has Gilly's kind of likability and gullibility. And, when we saw Chris in Election (1999), he had those same qualities. He really makes us believe that Gilly could get into this much trouble. And, when things go bad for him, you really, really feel for him. "

Rogers credits the Farrellys for helping land Heather Graham for the role of Jo. "When Peter and Bobby attached their names to the project, it allowed me to get the cast I wanted," he points out. Graham's performance confirmed Rogers's notion that she was perfect for the part. "Heather embodies the ideal girl, in that she is beautiful, likable and sophisticated at the same time," Rogers observes. Heather and Chris did a great job of playing the two 'straight men', with this bizarre world swirling around them. "

Adds Peter Gaulke, "Heather and Chris bring a quality of normalcy to their roles that you really have to have. These two characters are like the eye of the storm, the two most normal people in the whole movie. There has to be something about them that comes not just from their acting the parts, but something that is really part of their nature. And, both Chris and Heather have a real nice, down-to-earth nature. "

"Down to earth" and "beautiful" certainly describe Graham's role as Jo Wingfield. So does "incompetent" - at least in her chosen profession of hairdresser. Her hapless clients, including Gilly, sometimes get more than their hair cut off. To at least approximate the moves of a hairdresser, however unskilled, Graham practiced on a willing resident of Pomona, California, which served as one of the film's first locations. "The production hired this guy so I could just butcher his hair," the actress recalls. "The worse I could cut it, the better, so I just lopped this guy's hair off in big patches; it was pretty outrageous."

Graham cracked up the crew when it came time to actually cut Klein's hair - with the help of veteran hairstylist Kim Santantonio (Here on Earth (2000), Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, The (2000)). Santantonio spent hours each day with Klein applying a bevy of bad wigs to highlight Jo's questionable talents as a hairdresser. Santantonio also created a special "beaver cut" look that Klein endures for one of the film's jaw-dropping jokes.

Two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field adds to the film's hair-raising antics as the vindictive Valdine, a character director Rogers calls "white trash with a fashion sense gone wrong. And that's putting it mildly. " To the filmmakers's surprise and delight, Field took on the challenge of a playing a role very much against type. "Sally is a great actress, but you always think of her playing sweet or noble characters," says Bobby Farrelly. "But Valdine's got some venom in her, and it was really something to watch Sally embrace the part." Adds Peter Farrelly, "Sally became nothing less than the heart and soul of the movie. "

Costume designer Lisa Jensen (fabulous Baker Boys, The (1989) grumpy Old Men (1993) george of The Jungle (1997)) worked closely with Field to create Valdine's signature loud patterns, tight clothes, and wicked hairdos. Field and Jensen poured over a popular photo essay book called Suburbia to gather inspiration for a role that Jensen admits began "with the visible panty lines under spandex pants that were two sizes too small.

"In building this character, I started with several racks of clothing, and we tried on a lot of clothes over several hours," Jensen continues. "Sally talked about how Valdine would be in competition with her daughter regarding her looks. And the trashy nature came of out her aggressiveness as much as it did out of her sultriness. "

Field, Graham and Klein are joined by an ensemble of gifted comedic actors. Richard Jenkins, who plays Valdine's sickly husband, Walter, is a Farrelly veteran, having had a roles as an apathetic psychiatrist in There's Something About Mary (1998) and a distrustful cop chasing Jim Carrey in Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

Another comedy veteran, Orlando Jones, plays the legless bush pilot, Dig McCaffey. Rogers sees the character as an intriguing, highly unusual mix of two celebrated figures of the twentieth century. "Dig is a combination of Charles Lindbergh and Jimi Hendrix - a bush pilot who flies guys out on hunting expeditions," Rogers explains. "Dig becomes Gilly's ally and tries to help him out to get Jo out of Oregon. "

"Dig is the only character who somehow believes or trusts or understands that Gilly really is in love with Jo. He sees beyond those caught up in calling Gilly a pervert. To Dig, Gilly is just this kid who's completely in love with this girl, and I try and help put the two of them together. "

The character afforded Jensen another unique opportunity to dress a part she's never experienced in her fifteen years as a costume designer - a "heavy survivalist mixed in with a dope-smoking hippie. When they cast Orlando, J. B. Rogers and I immediately saw Jimi Hendrix, so I picked loud stuff because he's got a strong personality in the story, and Orlando himself had such a strong acting presence. "

Another performer in the film who cast a huge presence on the production was Canadian actor C. Ernst Harth, a 6'7" former pro wrestler (known as "The Bible Thumper"), who tips the scales at 425 lbs. Harth plays Mr. Campisi, a mental patient who joins Gilly and Dig on their journey to Oregon, after Gilly escapes from an asylum run by the shrewish Nurse Bautista (played by another Farrelly favorite, actress Lin Shaye).

Harth was a last-minute addition to the cast, because Gaulke and Swallow wrote the role for a small, bespectacled man. Yet, Harth easily adapted to the character's strange appearance and appetites. "Mr. Campisi is a funny, simple-minded guy with perfectly coifed sideburns and goatee whose Shangri-La is to find pancakes," Harth explains.


SAY IT ISN'T SO began production in the California towns of Long Beach, Camarillo and Pomona. The latter, located some thirty miles east of Los Angeles in the basin's Inland Empire, doubled for Gilly's hometown of Shelbyville, Indiana, which is an actual suburb of Indianapolis and director J. B. Rogers's hometown.

Production designer Sidney J. Bartholomew Jr. created some eye-catching sets in Pomona. He built two key sets - Gilly's animal kennel and the interiors of Mega Kutz, the kitschy, art deco hair salon where the klutzy Jo waxes stylish - in in abandoned Pomona storefronts.

After almost three weeks in Pomona, the company moved north to Vancouver and the majestic Pacific Northwest for the remainder of the ten-week shoot for scenes set in Oregon and on Gilly's transcontinental odyssey to win back his love.

Sites around Vancouver included Britannia Beach (Dig's waterfront shack), Surrey/White Rock (Jack Mitchelson's sprawling 34,000 sq. ft. mansion), the Riverview Hospital (an actual home for the mentally challenged) and the village of Squamish, nestled amidst the Tantalus Mountains, all of which portrayed the fictional Oregon town of Beaver.

It was on the streets of Squamish that Rogers staged one of the film's biggest sight gags, and one certainly not for the squeamish: a sequence where Gilly gets his hand caught in the bowels of a cow. Veteran makeup effects artist Tony Gardner, who created the ziplocked scrotum and Puffy the Dog in There's Something About Mary (1998) and his team at Alterian Studios devised came up with gag, employing an animatronic cow for a scene where Gilly loses Jo's engagement ring in the poor bovine's innards.

Other outlandish Gardner creations included a unique device that could represent the future of law enforcement weaponry: "The Disabler," a male chastity belt complete with a metal cup, leather straps and a padlock, which Gilly wears after his (false) arrest by the Beaver police for sexual deviancy. Gardner also fashioned a gag involving a zaftig pair of breasts impaled with gargantuan gargoyle nipple rings.