My ideal Friend's Wedding (1997)
The misery, the exquisite tragedy. The Susan Hayward of that all.—George Downes

The exquisite opening to quintessential ’90s flick My best Friend"s Wedding take away a flirty romp through nuptial clichés and throws them come the wind, becoming a complete film unto itself.

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A flowery prelude the sets the stage for a rollicking and subversive rom-com, the location sequence uses the film-before-the-film approach, featuring its own cast separate native the main production: performers Raci Alexander, Jennifer Garrett, Kelleia Sheerin, and Bree Turner, through Ani Difranco to sing a modern-day take the Burt Bacharach and also Hal David’s classic “Wishin’ and Hopin’”. The live-action opening, conceptualized by director P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding, Confessions the a Shopaholic) and also choreographed by performer and dance legend Toni Basil (“Mickey”), instantly signals come audiences the this film is intended to be set apart, and also that the trajectory may not take the intended course. The succession does much to elevate My ideal Friend’s Wedding past its station, harkening back to the whimsy and sheen of golden e film, imbuing a feeling of pomp and also nostalgia in ~ the outset. It could easily be placed alongside the openings of 1950s films like Pillow Talk, Auntie Mame, and Artists and also Models. It additionally lays the groundwork for the key musical variety of the film, a singalong the “I to speak a small Prayer because that You” led by George Downes (played through a particularly suave Rupert Everett).

In 1997, My finest Friend’s Wedding to be a worldwide box office hit and also is now thought about one the the best romantic comedies of all time. ~ above its release, the film’s location sequence was a rare bird, combine dance, song, and also Hollywood glamour. It remains so come this day.

A conversation with My ideal Friend"s Wedding Choreographer TONI BASIL and Title Designer WENDEN K. BALDWIN.

It"s great to acquire to chat about this! probably we deserve to do a quick introduction first. Just how would you explain yourself or your career up until this point?

Toni:My career has a pretty wide range, as far as being involved in every the street run community. I’m a director, and a choreographer, and also a creator.I was one of the original Lockers, and also the Lockers, in 1973, to be the an initial street dance group to walk on television and also actually earn a living.


Toni Basil performs "Street Beat" special Poppin Pete, Poppin Taco, and also Skeeter Rabbit, 1983

This last year, i co-directed – through Bette Midler – and choreographed she USA pop concerts and also the UK tour. And that took every one of the year, to trust me! and also then I likewise judge international street dance championships. Newly I to be one of 4 livestreaming commentators for KOD, which is Keep on Dancing, a Beijing–China international street dance battle that they finished up having here , in large venues.

Wenden: I would certainly say... I would use words “diverse.” I"ve done a lot of of different things. I started out in heralding when i was pretty young and additionally when ns was walk to art school. And from there, I checked out Cannon Films, however not as a location designer. I was functioning in your marketing department –their declaring department, doing publish advertising.I basically began the title department there because they did everything in-house. Whatever that to be post-production associated was done in-house. I simply happened to begin doing credit blocks because that trailers and then I started doing titles. Ns was in ~ Cannon for quite a lengthy time, that was favor a 12-year job or something choose that. From Cannon I went to CRC – Cinema study –they walk optical effects and also titles. That was whereby I did My best Friend"s Wedding.

In the ’90s, what were you increase to? do you mental what you to be doing around this time?

Toni: i was more than likely doing either Bette Midler or David Bowie shows. In the ’90s, I had actually the song, girlfriend know, “Mickey”, and also I to be all around choreographing David and also Bette and Tina Turner…

Toni Basil discusses "Mickey" and also working as a performer and also choreographer top top Australian show Countdown, in march 14, 1982

Wenden: i was working at CRC in ~ the time, and one the the great things about working at CRC is you"d have actually all these good directors comes to you just due to the fact that they want to obtain their films done. It"s kind of how amazing how numerous directors would usage the arts department at CRC. The was kind of a one-stop shop. I dislike to use that phrase but in a lot of means it was. So, he to be a customer at CRC.

You’re referring to P.J. Hogan, the director?

Wenden: Yeah! P.J. Hogan. The one point I remember most is that he was really, important excited about the sequence. He was just completely excited, like he bought into it and really loved it and it was evident he had this great sense of style and aesthetics.


It seemed prefer taking this course for the title was kind of one intuition ~ above his part. He just felt like it to be going to really resonate v people. The was entirely just excited around it, that"s one point I remember.

So, how did functioning on the titles to this movie come to you, Toni?

Toni:I was already working top top the film. I had choreographed My finest Friend’s Wedding. Over there were part sequences that essential a little bit of staging… there were part dances in ~ the end. What was the name of the man that starred in it also?

Rupert Everett?

Toni: Yeah, Rupert! I operated with that a small bit, and also Julia a small bit. However I had worked with P.J. Top top the movie, so he referred to as me increase to perform the titles.


Director P.J. Hogan and also Julia Roberts top top the set of My ideal Friend"s Wedding

He explained it to me over the phone: pink background, complete pink background. I was acquainted with functioning on coloured voids, because I had done “Mickey” and many of mine videos ~ above white, and he to be doing this on pink. He had actually picked a song, and also he want me to produce a musical number come go through it.

Wenden: In his mind that song was going come resonate with his audience around the story that followed. His vision never seemed to vary. The seemed prefer the idea had involved him effortlessly, in a sense.

Toni: He wanted to use three back-up singers and also a lead, and also it to be going to it is in brides and the bridesmaids. He defined that come me end the phone, so i think the next time us met, we were going come talk around calling an audition for the girls. Yet he had currently picked a bride! Which, as soon as I acquired there, i realized wasn’t walk to work-related out because she couldn’t dance!

Oh, no.

Toni: There’s this assumption, friend know, the you deserve to just choose a face and teach them exactly how to dance, and this girl had to sing and dance! i mean, to pick an actress that has to sing and also dance, fairly than to choose a singer-dancer is yes, really an humiliation to dance. It doesn’t provide you any leeway, you’re no able come create! She really couldn’t cut it, so we had actually to let her go, and also when we had the complete audition we auditioned also for the lead. We did a large call. Us probably had actually 50 come 75 human being auditioning that day.

I really appreciated the P.J. Allow me readjust the lead. The lead is named Raci Alexander, and also I think she to be absolutely brilliant. Ns think that made all the difference in the world.


Title sequence performers Jennifer Garrett,Raci Alexander (in white), Kelleia Sheerin, andBree Turner

So, what was your inspiration? just how did you determine the narrative for the routine?

Toni: we looked at the lyrics and also started to watch where it would dance, whereby it would tell a story, and I made a storyboard. Every my videos that i choreograph, I draw out. I have actually the storyboard come “Mickey” and also some of mine music videos, but I don’t have this one... Simply my music videos. Yet my assistant, who was really terrific to job-related with top top the task –her name is Chrissy Bocchino –and Chrissy to be a exorbitant comedian, singer, dancer, herself, so she to be a an excellent inspiration to the project. We sat down and also thought, “Okay, what room the actual cliché scenarios?” throw the bouquet, every those things. Ns think we just tried to technique it all with humour and also tongue-in-cheek.

Right, there’s a many of great jokes. Those “Hear No Evil, see No Evil” moves, the bride biting she glove, recording her very own bouquet...

Toni: Yeah! We just sat down and also thought of every these different concepts and also ideas. Periodically a lyric would certainly drive the idea.


It’s an excellent how there are alters in the camera angles, because some moments space at a broad angle, some space really near up, and some space from above, and the girls room arranged so that they’re lie down.

Toni: Yup, and that to be one wherein we had actually to make part changes because the building that us shot in, the ceiling was not high enough to acquire the girls full-figure. You an alert that they’re simply from the waist-up? We had actually to change the choreography fairly quickly. Ns remember P.J. –well! He to be concerned, that said, you know, the ceiling isn"t high sufficient to shoot what we have to shoot. I said, well, that’s no problem, just get the camera up high enough and I’ll re-choreograph that from what you’re seeing. And also that would really have been the downfall of a non-dancer. She might have never made that sort of adjustment. So the was good that we had talent that could adjust.


Wenden, after that was every shot, do you remember just how you worked with the typography because that the sequence?

Wenden: ns remember it really clearly. It"s Bickley Script. In ~ the time, i was doing every my typography, setting all the type. Making sure that every little thing was perfect kerned and the spacing looked correct. And since it was a script, you kind of had to eyeball it more than simply assume the if something to be dead center, it to be going come look centered, so over there was part finesse involved in acquiring that form set and getting that looking an excellent on the screen.

I to be pretty hand-operated with the entirety thing, producing the typography, making certain that whatever lined up, working v the optical press guys, making certain the wedges were done correctly. I worked with the optical men downstairs and made certain the elements were shot correctly.


My finest Friend"s Wedding location card, v typography design by Wenden K. Baldwin

It’s a amazing sequence because that the ’90s, but additionally cinema overall, since there aren’t countless movies that begin with a lengthy dance number choose this.

Wenden: among the things I like around it is the it takes friend by surprise.I really choose the opening due to the fact that I think it"s together a great mix of choreography and music and also titles.

Toni:I’ve gotta commend P.J. Because that the vision to view it and for having actually the to trust in hiring me to really, you know, step out and also do something! i think it’s a really brilliantly achieved piece by all of us. By myself, through Chrissy mine assistant, through the 4 women. Ns think it to be a exorbitant ensemble piece.

Wenden:It doesn"t have any of the actors that are in the movie, it"s a an extremely kind that "50s opening, you know? and also title sequences really weren"t choose that then. It"s a finish piece unto itself.

Right, it"s kind of favor a music video.

Wenden: Exactly! Exactly. I watched it recently after girlfriend contacted me "cause ns hadn"t seen it because that a long time and it quiet holds up. It"s simply a great opening and also sets the tone for the movie in a yes, really unusual way because it measures so far away from common title openings at the time.


Today it appears like people are opting because that either very straightforward title sequences, which space nice, or very complicated digital 3D sequences, i beg your pardon I also enjoy. However there"s very couple of live-action openings, to it is in sure.

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Do girlfriend think you have a favourite title sequence?

Toni: i think Pablo Ferro in the ‘70s did some interesting ones. He was a filmmaker and also title person. He’s a friend of mine.