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‘Modern Family’ Episode Employs Modern Twist

Modern Family” is taking the “modern” part of its name to heart. In an episode later this month designed to explore the way family interaction is now often mediated through social media, mobile devices and computers, the Emmy-winning ABC comedy shot all the scenes on iPhones, iPads and MacBook Pros, aping a conceit featured in the short film “Noah.”

The idea behind the latest episode, “Connection Lost” – which was shot almost entirely over two days, but took months to plan and design – is that Claire (Julie Bowen) is on a business trip when a perceived crisis arises regarding her daughter Haley (Sarah Hyland). So she spends the whole show in an airport terminal, frantically using Facetime, Facebook and the Web to try to track her child’s whereabouts, while talking to other members of the family on their phones or computers.

Series co-creator Steve Levitan called the undertaking “the most labor-intensive episode we’ve ever done,” although because of the production schedule, not a budget-buster by any means. (Levitan noted that the filmmakers behind “Noah” were consulted but ultimately unable to participate.)

Indeed, the shooting approach actually cut the show’s normal production time from five days to roughly two. The visually dense concept also allowed the producers to embed all kinds of inside jokes into Claire’s laptop, said Megan Ganz, who shares writing credit on the half-hour with Levitan, such as a search that yields the title of a TV movie called “Not Without My Daughter’s Daughter.”

There were no product-placement deals related to the usage of the Apple products. As Levitan noted, technology and how it influences the family’s communication has been a theme throughout the series. The producer added that such flourishes within the ABC series – now in its sixth season – were informed by the producers’ own experiences and motivated by thinking, “What’s that thing that’s going to get us excited?”

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