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PADDINGTON

Locations and Set Design
Following a preliminary shoot on location in Costa Rica (which stood in for Paddington's birthplace, the jungles of Darkest Peru), the production got to work on securing some of London's most iconic locations for central roles in the film's storyline, from Paddington Station in all its 19th century glory to the buzzing Portobello Market and the inner sanctum of the Reform Club, Pall Mall - all before we even touch on the fabulously majestic Natural History Museum. PADDINGTON provides a tourist trail of hidden gems and distinctive landmarks alike - Routemaster buses, black taxis and tube trains all feature in the comic chaos that seems to cling to Paddington as he attempts to navigate the big city.

Despite shooting in such identifiable locations, the filmmakers felt it was important that their London wasn't entirely real. David Heyman explains, "Our Paddington is more realistic than previous incarnations and is quite different from the teddy bear in some of the illustrations. But he's still a talking bear - which is a fantastic notion in itself. We didn't feel he could ever feel at one with a perfectly naturalistic London, so as well as bringing our Paddington into the real world, we also took our world towards Paddington."

Director Paul King elaborates: "The Paddington books have always been set in the era in which they have been written, which lends the series a wonderfully timeless quality. We wanted our world to work for people who read the first books, watched the animations - or for people who don't know the character at all. London is a city where heritage and modernity co-exist in glorious confusion and the chance to make a timeless, heightened London where a talking bear could feel right at home was too glorious an opportunity to resist."

Gary Williamson, the film's Production Designer, had worked with Paul in the past on his feature film debut, BUNNY AND THE BULL. "Our starting point for PADDINGTON, in complete contrast to our last film together, was to create a 'real' world - it's not the cardboard cut-out world of past incarnations of Paddington Bear - but a heightened reality where it feels perfectly natural to meet a talking bear." Hence, we see in the film a whole host of recognisable, every-day locations tweaked and polished to give them a storybook quality.

Alongside these are painstakingly detailed fictional interiors and facades, created specifically by Gary and his skilful team to represent the strange new world that Paddington encounters. Through Paddington's eyes, this world is traditional yet modern, typically British yet dusted with international flavours and references.

Paul says "Gary spent years working with Dennis Potter and is the master of creating sets that evoke the inner life of characters." Paddington is an outsider, and a recurring motif in the film is how he finds himself looking into imaginary little worlds. Paul explains, "When he is in Peru, he gazes into a snowglobe of London, wondering what it might be like to live there. When he comes to London, he looks into a dolls' house and wonders about the strange life the Browns have. When Mr. Gruber tells him his story, he peers into a toy train and wonders what his life might have been like. When he is at the Natural History Museum, he looks into the dioramas, perhaps contemplating what it would be like to be one of the specimens. It's only at the end of the film, when he has found where he belongs, that he is able to break out of the doll's house and run into the real world." He has become an insider or, at least, one who is happy with his status as Peruvian and Londoner, Bear and Brown.

The use of colour was key. Gary continues, "We set out to make it very strong visually and to use colour as a reference point for characters and therefore, their surroundings; Mrs Brown, Mr Brown, the children, Millicent - all have very specific colour palettes - which our costume designer Lindy Hemming echoes through their clothing, too".

Paul adds "We watched THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and were both struck by the use of colour to tell the story. You feel people are destined to be together because while they are wearing different colours, their costumes are accented with the other's primary colour. You feel certain characters belong in certain locations and not others because their costumes fit - or don't fit - with that environment. And you get a sense of their mood from how vibrant their wardrobe is. It's subtly done, but it works wonders as a subliminal storytelling device." Gary continues "But you have to liberate yourself from that to a certain extent, so that you are not restricted creatively - Paul and I worked hard to embrace colour as the filmmaking progressed, having fun with it and adding it where we wouldn't necessarily have done so in our early designs."

Perhaps the biggest challenge for Gary was shooting outdoors and in public: "I can control the sets in a studio, but I can't control London!" That said, the production was met with open arms at every turn, as this famous bear once more proved dear to the hearts of so many - enormously helpful leverage when it comes to closing a platform of a major train station, re-dressing stately homes, taking over national museums and filming at working shipyards! As the director is keen to point out, "Nothing was ever a problem, everyone did so much to accommodate us and help us and let us do all sorts of things that we really shouldn't have been doing! Something in Paddington definitely brings out people's most helpful natures."

The shooting locations proved an inspiration for the seasoned cast members as well as those new to filmmaking. As Hugh Bonneville explains, shooting through the night, for five consecutive nights, at the Natural History Museum in November 2013, was pretty special. "It lends an incredible atmosphere to the film I think - it's a really crucial section of the story and to be in the museum itself gives it a real added bonus, a real sense of awe and wonder and danger and possibility....." The production literally took over this majestic building by night, shooting in the Grand Hall, the famous Dinosaur exhibit, the Mineralogy and Research rooms, the ornate corridors and even in the grounds of the building. Watch closely and even the well-known Diplodocus, 'Dippy', who greets thousands of visitors a day as they enter the museum, makes a cameo appearance in PADDINGTON.

Taking this beautiful historic architecture as his inspiration, Williamson was then able to seamlessly create the 'fictional' aspects of this existing building - notably Millicent's taxidermy office complete with secret lair - as well as the climatic rooftop scenes, on the soundstages of Leavesden studios.

The English weather was surprisingly kind to the film crew as they shot through the early winter months of 2013. Chalcot Crescent, in London's exclusive Primrose Hill, plays a starring role as Windsor Gardens, home to the Brown family and their crotchety next door neighbour, Mr. Curry. The residents of this picture-perfect London street were even treated to an early White Christmas when the entire crescent was covered in thick snow and fairy lights for two days in early November, for the final scenes of the film - complete with a live, 5-piece Calypso band.

The on-screen music was a hugely important aspect of the film to Paul. "My wife introduced me to the 'London is the Place for Me' albums, which opened up a whole world of music I'd known nothing about. It felt so serendipitous that there was this glorious, joyful, funny and politically charged music being made by immigrants living in Notting Hill at the same time Michael Bond was writing about Paddington pottering down Portobello Road, and I was determined to involve it in the soundtrack."

Paul wrote to Damon Albarn, whose Honest Jon's record label had released the 'London is the Place for Me' compilations. "I never really expected a reply, but I knew Damon loved the music and loved collaborating with musicians from different backgrounds. Thrillingly, he leapt at the chance."

Damon and his collaborators at EWB assembled a group of London's finest Caribbean performers, and the group spent a happy couple of days in the recording studio laying down the tracks that would eventually form the backbone of the score.

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