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Nothing Is Impenetrable: Creating Evil Paradise
DeMonaco and the producers assembled a stellar below-the-line team to bring their vision to life. Production designer Melanie Paizis-Jones crafted the looks for the Sandin home, while director of photo- graphy Jacques Jouffret was tasked with capturing the perfect moments during the brief shooting schedule for Peter Gvozdas to edit. Rounding out the key team leads, costume designer Lisa Norcia and composer Nathan Whitehead knew they would have to put their expertise in the genre to quick work to hit their deadlines due to the tight production schedule.

Finding the home that would provide the desired focal point of forced entry on the night of The Purge was a daunting task for the crew. DeMonaco begins: "It was hard to find the kind of house I wanted in Los Angeles. I didn't want it to look like L.A. I wanted it to look like middle America and to represent the type of 'new rich' in America that would be happening at this point."

Fuller agrees that it was a challenge, particularly for production designer Paizis-Jones. The producer says: "We all recognize the house is the star of the film, and we searched for a long time before we finally found this house in Chatsworth, California. At first we weren't able to make a deal with the owner, but after a lot of discussion, we decided to shorten our shooting schedule in order to be able to afford this house."

As the home plays a large role in the thriller, it had to be perfect, inside and out. Blum notes: "Our locations are very important in our movies because most of the films occur in one place. What made this house ideal was that it was extremely relatable. It's about 10,000 square feet, but houses that size are often tacky and this wasn't. That was a very compelling thing about it: You could relate to people actually living in it."

One of the house's most disturbing occupants also serves as our guide through it. Charlie's home- made sidekick, a remote-controlled doll-tank hybrid named Timmy, was a set prop that cast and crew alike loved. The audience's POV throughout much of the movie, Timmy serves as a voyeur into the terrifying night. Remarks Blum: "Timmy was clever on James' part. People are used to seeing media in very different places, and that part of the movie plays into our being surrounded by it. I loved the idea that you would have a remote-controlled tank that would take images from around the house and you could use that to see everything."

Considering that the film is set a mere nine years in the future, costume designer Norcia wanted to make sure the colors and designs weren't too futuristic for the characters, yet still had a dystopic sensibility. She recounts: "The project came to life for me, and I started having my version of what it would look and sound like. A week later, I met with James to go over my vision, and we were very similar in how we saw things."

For the part of James, the designer decided on the classic pinstripe. "He wears the conservative dad shirt that's never going to go out of style," Norcia continues. The inspiration for Headey's Mary was an upper-class conservative, but simply dressed, mother.

Alternately, a Catholic schoolgirl came to mind when Norcia was designing for Kane's Zoey. She offers: "We wanted to keep Zoey in that uniform to show her vulnerability throughout The Purge. It was important to keep her very innocent because that's how her father still sees her."

When imagining the costumes for Burkholder's Charlie, Norcia was all about layers. She notes: "He does the layering pieces of the grays and the whites, so that he would fit in, but he is the character that has a conscience and is scared of what was happening out in the world. Those layers are his shields, his personal armor."

Imagining the masks for the violent Freaks was the most fun for Norcia. She relays: "When we started out with the Freaks, we had these ideas that they were all going to be unique and scary. That was all well and good in theory, but we ended up going through more than 100 different masks and couldn't settle on anything."

Finally, they came up with a very simple female mask, and it worked beautifully. Concludes the director: "We dressed the Freaks like they were going out for Halloween in these scary costumes, and they are dressed to kill. We put these female masks on them and had them carrying axes and machetes and machine guns. The whole thing is very macabre."


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