THE COUNTRY BEARS
About The Production Design
The filmmakers decided to
create a believable make-believe world that presupposes that bears live
naturally among people in the human world. "In the movie's world, bears
make up 10% of the population and are treated just like any other ethnic
group," explains director Peter Hastings. "For example, our reality
has Thai restaurants, Russian restaurants, and bear bars."
sets, props and costumes, created for the film adheres to this bear-centric
point of view.
The Golden Oak Ranch in
Newhall, CA, was home to the production for over half the shoot. A full-scale
Country Bear Hall that can accommodate almost 400 people for a show, was
constructed at The "Disney Ranch," as it is also known. The "Swarmin'
Hive" Honey Bar, the interior of Beary's bedroom, and numerous outdoor
scenes were also shot on the ranch.
"Peter came into his
interview for the directing job with his drawing of what became the initial
design of Country Bear Hall," recalls producer Andrew Gunn. Production
designer Dan Bishop used that drawing as his inspiration in designing Country
Once executives at the
Walt Disney Studios saw a full-scale model of the hall, the decision was made to
make Country Bear Hall a permanent structure. The design of the two-and-a-half
story building was much too detailed, beautiful, and potentially useful to be
torn down after production. The studio recognized that the building could be of
use for many other things in the future, including concerts, corporate retreats
and other film/television productions.
"We used milled and
un-milled lumber, to build it in an Adirondack style, with open space in the
rafters" explains producer Jeffrey Chernov. "It was Peter's idea
that Country Bear Hall should be
sort of a hallowed musical place and have the same kind of sentimental value for
musicians that Preservation Hall in New Orleans or The Grand Old Opry in
Nashville has. The architecture and the grandeur of the place had to reflect
Bear Hall was a labor of love for the construction people," comments
Construction Supervisor Steve Hagberg.
Country Bear Hall is 84
feet long, 47 feet wide, and about 40 feet tall including the
"cupola," the bird-cage type box on top of the building. Hundreds of
thousands of nails, screws, bolts, staples, epoxy bolts, powder-actuated
fasteners and threaded rod hold together over a mile of beams.
The building features a
front porch "tree-like" edifice that is actually made with a core of
steel, surrounded by wire, covered with foam and then sculpted to shape.
"The six huge pieces were transported on special trucks to the building
site, installed and then covered with a coat of cement to give them strength and
then a final finished surface," explains Hagberg. "When it was time to
build a roof over the porch, of course, it started raining again. Once the roof
was done, it stopped rainingâ€¦ again."
crew reached a high of 90 people and on a typical day we had 40 carpenters, 30
painters, 12 laborers, and 5 sculptors working all around the
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