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HELLBOY

About The Production
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who served as visual consultant on director Guillermo del Toro's Blade II, was in total synchronicity with the overall visual design plan the director had for bringing his hero's story to the screen. "My art is very graphic and it would seem that there's a limit to what you can do with it in the real world,” says Mignola. "But Guillermo perfectly captured the feeling of it. He set certain rules in doing that, assigning certain shapes and colors to the various character and design elements. It's an extremely controlled atmosphere.” 

Del Toro recalls that during production, whenever he showed Mignola a new set, Mignola would say, "'That looks like something I could have drawn.' And when he said that, I would be very happy, because the interesting thing is, it also looked like something I could have shot. Which I did,” he laughs. "There are many images that are incredibly evocative of the comic. But I didn't want to do a carbon copy, because a movie is its own creature. I think of it more as a great sort of a jazz riff inspired by the comic book.”

Mignola not only lauded del Toro for his take on Hellboy, he actually derived fresh inspiration from watching the filming. "One day, Mike was looking at a shot of the Hellboy character and he asked to see it again,” relates producer Lloyd Levin. "After studying it for a bit he said, ‘I've got to remember that. That's the way I've got to draw him.' For all of us it was a flattering confirmation that Guillermo had captured Mike's graphic sensibility.” 

Adds Mignola, "Some comic book movies play down the comic book element. If anything, this one amped it up and took full advantage of the visuals and the kind of action you see in comic books.” 

For the production, del Toro gathered together many of the talented artisans who had helped him realize his vision in the past on such films as Blade II and The Devil's Backbone, as well as several notable craftspeople with whom he was working for the first time. 

The objective was to coordinate their individual contributions and capture the essence and consistency of Mignola's comic book sensibility on film. This mandate is evident in Stephen Scott's production design, which not only took its cue from Mignola's comic books but also embellished upon it by adapting elements from the Gothic environment of the film's Prague shooting location. "What's remarkable about the set design,” says Levin, "is that it walks a fine line. Though there is a strong fantasy element to the movie, it is rendered in realistic terms and the Gothic flavor of Prague definitely influenced the overall design.” 

The production design affirmed del Toro's vision and impacted the actors' performances as well, Levin claims. "I think it seeped into all their work because they were in such a real environment it was hard not to be in some ways creeped out.” 

"The point all along was to strike a happy medium," he says. "Since the level of the film's action is not real, we decided to take it to the next level, slightly beyond reality, working very closely with the special effects department." 

The comic books served as Scott's jumping-off point, Levin continues. "From there we developed the sets incorporating images from the book and trying to be true to the comics' color scheme — black and brown, black and gray with a strong hint of purple and green. That makes the character of (the decidedly red) Hellboy pop out more." 

As Levin notes, Scott was also stimulated by the location surroundings. "Prague is full of the most amazing architecture, which can't help but influence your designs, particularly on a movie like this," says Scott. Other research included poring over books on cemeteries, underground caverns and Indian architecture, which provided him with many ideas about color and form. Scott also perused texts of Neo-Egyptia

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