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FINDING NEVERLAND

Reality Meets Imagination
The unique design of FINDING NEVERLAND bridges two utterly different worlds: linking the prim and proper reality of turn-of-the-century London with that of an imaginary realm of outrageous dreams and infinite possibility. Throughout every element of the production design, the costumes, the photography and the lighting, the two worlds play off one another, and sometimes play tug-of-war, making for a distinct look that is just beyond the everyday, yet never entirely out of reach.

Production designer Gemma Jackson explains: "There were a lot of different things in the mix on this story, but always we had in a mind a very strong magical element laid over the equally compelling reality of it. Marc was quite adamant that he didn't want a heavy-duty period film that got caught up in historical details. So we looked at far more than just re-creating 1904, and made it our mission to also capture the very essence of a world where imagination explodes outward from real life.”

Academy Award-nominated costume designer Alexandra Byrne was similarly excited by the challenge of doing something unlike any previous project. "It's rare that a costume designer gets to combine reality with fantasy – you're usually doing one or the other -- so it was quite thrilling,” she says. "For many of the real-life outfits, I began with trips to museums to look at actual pieces and at paintings of the period to get the right weight and weave for the fabrics. On the other hand, for Neverland, it was all about going out on a limb and creating something right out of a child's dreams. It's sheer fantasy but with just a touch of the Edwardian influence.”

Byrne drew from both the more buttoned-up English fashions of the time – subjecting Kate Winslet and Radha Mitchell to the acute discomforts of turn-of-the-century corsets -- but also the freer clothing styles a progressive family like the Llewelyn Davies sported with looser smocks, jaunty berets and knickerbockers for the boys. Then, for the playtime scenes, Byrne left reality behind with fanciful fairy wings, pirate breeches and Indian headdresses.

Director of photography Roberto Schaefer also worked to interweave the real world with a world that for all practical purposes can't be photographed: the world of the inner imagination. Says Schaefer: "Marc Forster allowed me a lot of freedom to explore how to give a sense of being inside a man's imagination in my own visual way, and I really appreciated that.”

Schaefer worked in close collaboration with Kevin Tod Haug, the Visual Effects Designer on the film. "We started from the idea that we were going to try to show what life looks like through the eyes of an inventive writer who's not entirely here with the rest of us – he's off in his imagination somewhere!” Haug explains. "We wanted there to be a tinge of something fantastical or slightly strange surrounding Barrie. In the scenes with fantasy elements, we combined little bits of animation, CGI and photography of the real actors to create something like a dream. My particular specialty is impossible camera moves and things that look as through they're all live-action or real, and yet in fact are combinations of CGI and multiple camera moves. This was key to creating the right effects.”

The film was shot in England, often at authentic locations including central London's legendary Kensington Gardens as well as the historic Saville Club and the 19th Century Brompton Cemetery. The scenes at the Duke of York's Theatre were all filmed at the historical Richmond Theatre in Surrey, a lavish turn-of-the-century stage which was built in 1899 and refurbished to its original splendor in the 1990s.

But the most excitement came in creating a place that never really existed yet many feel they have visited: Neverland, the enchanted isle of idyllic forests and lagoons, which

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