To aid in visually depicting the increasing spiral of revenge and retribution in "Changing Lanes," Michell chose production designer Kristi Zea, whose credits include such films as "Philadelphia" and "The Silence of the Lambs." Zea saw her biggest designing challenge in defining the separate worlds of Gavin and Doyle in such a way that the audience instantly understands why the two men might be antagonists. At the same time, however, she wanted to show elements in her designs that indicated that the two men, while extremely different, did share some similarities.
To depict their similarities, she went to the workplace of each man, giving both environments similar Kafka-esque roots. For example, even though Doyle’s desk sits within a tiny cubicle in a large insurance company, and Gavin’s office is private with a sweeping view of midtown Manhattan, both men toil like worker bees, laboring for an entity larger than themselves.
Because Gavin practically is his job, while Doyle does not define himself by where he works, the stylized offices of Gavin’s ultra-corporate law firm serve as the centerpiece set for "Changing Lanes." Its huge, seemingly infinite maze of glass-walled workspaces suggests the "Big Brother" type of environment in which morality might slip through the cracks.
But so much glass posed a constant problem, picking up unwanted reflections for director of photography Salvatore Totino, who minimized the issue by requesting that his camera crew dress in dark colors. It was worth the inconvenience, as the glass walls enabled Totino to shoot straight through the huge set from one end to the other.
The set was indeed enormous. Occupying most of the vast interior space of the hundred-year-old Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it utilized 18,000 square feet of plastic flooring and was surrounded on three sides by a 370-foot translight photograph of midtown Manhattan that provided the rooftop views seen through the windows. Due to the fragility of the glass walls, the floor and ceiling had to be installed first, and the walls second.
"When you see the original photographs of the set," says Zea, "it’s uncanny. It looks like The Mother Ship has landed in the middle of the armory."
See Official Website to read full production notes.