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AQUAMARINE

About The Production
The journey of AQUAMARINE began with the novel by the acclaimed author Alice Hoffman, whose other books Practical Magic and Here on Earth had previously been adapted for the screen. Fox 2000, which owned the rights to Hoffman's book, sent a copy of it, along with a preliminary screenplay, to director Elizabeth Allen. Though Allen had not yet directed a feature, the studio was impressed with her award-winning short film Eyeball Eddie, and had been looking for a project to collaborate on.

Allen immediately sparked to the material. "I was so inspired by the story, it really spoke to me,” says Allen. "I thought it would be wonderful to explore the relationship between the best friends, and to watch these girls embrace their individuality and learn to take pride in who they are.

"I was also excited by the unique, visual potential of the story. It was a chance to do something we really don't see on screen too often, especially in movies aimed at teenage girls. In fact, it seemed like the kind of movie I would've wanted to see at that age!”

Producer Susan Cartsonis, who was brought on board once Allen was attached to the project, was also drawn to the story's strong female characters. "I've long been drawn to movies about female empowerment,” relates Cartsonis, a former Fox production executive. "When I worked at the studio, I championed films that were about women who had to take charge of their lives, in one way or another – like The Truth About Cats and Dogs and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. After I left I produced similarly themed movies like Where the Heart Is and What Women Want. AQUAMARINE, while its own completely original story, reflects a theme close to my heart, and it has the potential to subtly influence young women in a positive and entertaining way.”

Once Elizabeth Allen finished developing the AQUAMARINE script she started to explore casting, beginning with who would play best friends Hailey and Claire. The first two girls brought in to audition were Emma Roberts and Joanna "JoJo” Levesque – and they were ideal. "They just blew us away,” recalls Allen. "Everyone in casting at Fox was incredulous, used to spending months and months trying to find the perfect young actresses for a role. In one fell swoop, with one audition, we found our leads.”

Casting Aqua, the sexy mermaid who turns Hailey's and Claire's world upside down, was a longer process. It took several months to find someone with just the right combination of beauty, freshness, and nutty comic ability to play the magical woman of the sea. But Sara Paxton was worth the wait. Says Cartsonis: "Sara had a wonderfully zany, otherworldly quality to her that was perfect for Aqua. She reminded us of great film comediennes who had a funny and specific way of viewing the world.”

For Raymond, the hunky lifeguard and Aqua's love interest, Allen and Cartsonis auditioned many young actors until they zeroed in on one who had not only the requisite heartthrob looks, but the unique sense of humor needed to keep up with Sara Paxton's quirky comedic abilities. Notes Elizabeth Allen: "When Jake McDorman walked in to audition, he was cracking jokes and was refreshingly wild. He found an approach to Ray's lines that was completely different than we imagined, and it impressed us immediately.”

The filmmakers faced several challenges when selecting the shooting locations. Production was restricted to Emma Roberts's and Sara Paxton's February-to-May television series hiatuses, so it was impossible to shoot the summer-set story in the script's original Northeastern U.S. setting. Locations all over the country, including sites in Louisiana, Florida, and California, were scouted to accommodate the scheduling issue, but ultimately the perfect spot was found halfway around the world, in Australia. The continent's Gold Coast, as scenic and adaptable as it was, looked too tropical to double for, say, Massachusetts, so

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