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SPY KIDS 2:
THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS

Locations
In addition to serving as writer, director and master inventor, Robert Rodriguez also served as the film's production designer – turning the remote wilderness of West Texas into an exotic Island of Lost Dreams, a rocky, rugged, ruins-filled volcanic landscape of run-away creations, where there isn't even electricity to plug in a gadget.

"I really wanted a very specific look for this film so that's why I decided to be the production designer too," comments Rodriguez. ""I wanted the world of the film to appear as if a kid had designed it – and Kids love scale," he explains, "anything that's really big or really tiny, so a lot of what I designed is either miniaturized or much larger than you would expect."

Rodriguez's concept for Romero's hideaway was a reaction to all the villain's lairs he's seen in other movies. "In Bond movies, the lairs are always these huge, elaborate, and probably very expensive lairs," he observes. "I wanted Romero's lair to be pre-existing. A pile of ancient civilization ruins, that he happened upon and set up camp in." But inside that hideaway, Romero has created an entire miniature of the island and all its creations. "I love the idea of him being able to look down on this little model of everything like the Gods looking down on humans in those old mythological movies," says Rodriguez. "It also works kind of like a video monitor for him, since there is no electricity on the island."

Wearing so many hats might have flummoxed some, but for Rodriguez it was an opportunity to return to his EL MARIACHI roots. "I got into moviemaking because I had a lot of hobbies as a kid. I loved photography, drawing, music, sculpture… moviemaking seemed like a big project I could throw myself into creatively, full immersion, and get to do all my hobbies. When I got to Hollywood, the last thing I wanted to do was give any of that up. So I simply continued making my bigger budget movies in this home movie style, where you do most everything yourself."

In addition to his constant innovations in design, Robert Rodriguez also instituted an entirely new way to shoot with SPY KIDS 2: using customized high-definition digital cameras instead of film. Says Rodriguez: "The HD cameras not only make production move much faster but it also makes everything more immediate and less technically binding. Technology is wonderful in that it frees you creatively. Film was a true creative obstacle, slowing down the process of moviemaking to the point I was getting very frustrated with the medium. "I was tired of film," he says, "because I would look at SPY KIDS and feel that it should be so much more colorful, that it should really have captured all these hot Latin colors I was using on the set, but it didn't. It just never translated on film. Then George Lucas showed me some footage from the new ‘Star Wars Episode 2' and I was very impressed. I knew this was the way to go. With high definition digital, it captures all of the vividness and vibrancy of the sets we created. It feels like you're shooting in Technicolor. Everything really pops."

Rodriguez also liked that he was able to immediately see the results of each take. "With HD you can see exactly what you're going to see on the screen – and the actors can also see it, so they can always say ‘Oh, I have a different idea.' In fact, people learned on this production to just put away their scripts, because every new idea would lead to ten other ideas and you end up going much farther and getting more creative than you ever thought."

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