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FLUSHED AWAY

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To emphasize the contrast between Roddy's life of lonely luxury and the vibrant chaos he discovers when he's flushed from it, the filmmakers were determined to design two dramatically different worlds. Their efforts resulted in the wild subterranean setting of Roddy's tremendous adventure – the polar opposite of his polished, impersonal "Up Top” flat.

Everything is in perfect order in Roddy's extravagant home, and when his owners are away on holiday, Roddy has the run of the place. Fell explains, "Roddy is the pet mouse of a rather wealthy family living in Kensington. He lives in this gorgeous, gilded cage, is dressed in the finest doll clothes available, goes skiing on little mountains of ice cream. He plays volleyball with his toy pals and drives them around in his toy sports car. And he's really quite happy there – or rather, just assumes he is because he doesn't know anything different.”

Since the film is set in and underneath London, one of the first steps in the production design process was a trip to the Square Mile itself. "We took so many photos,” remarks co-art director Pierre-Olivier Vincent. "We captured every little detail – the windows, the doors, the stairs, the signage – because things like these are very unique to a city. We really tried to absorb the mood of the city.”

While the idea of the city often evokes images of rain and gloom, Vincent noted that London was practically awash in bright hues. "We think of London as a very dark city because the weather is often overcast, but it's actually very colorful. There are a lot of reds, a lot of whites. Most of the windows have that white framing. The doors are often bright blue or green or red. Even the bricks are a very distinct color.”

In the film, matte paintings provide the backdrop for above-ground London. "We started out with the photographs of the real place,” says Ronn Brown, matte painting supervisor. "Once we have those photographs, it's kind of like making a collage. 

When we're painting, we're essentially putting all those photographs together, adding in the light, the values, and the shape. The goal is to be realistic within the style of the film – sort of ‘realistic with a twist,' always adhering to that Aardman style. With Big Ben, for example, we've kind of exaggerated the shape of the building to give it more of that sculptural Aardman look.”

Underneath Kensington, the vibe and pace are quite different. It's a bustling, unruly place, and for a pampered pet accustomed to order and predictability, it is simultaneously terrifying and exciting. Roddy's home is clean, comfortable, and safe – but it is also somewhat cold and uninspiring. The underground world, conversely, needed to be almost magical.

"There had to be a little bit of coldness in Roddy's world because we needed him to eventually become attached to the world down below,” explains co-art director Scott Wills. "So he goes from a world that is really white and pristine into something darker and more complex. But it's a balancing act – Roddy has to find the world overwhelming and intimidating at first, but it can't be too scary and off-putting either, because he has to fall in love with it.”

To draw inspiration for this world, the filmmakers visited an area of London that can hardly be considered a typical tourist attraction. "We took a field trip down into London's sewers,” Bowers shares. "We got all kitted out in Hazmat suits and protective masks and had to climb down a 50-foot ladder.”

The excursion revealed a less-than-picturesque environment. "There was nothing down there,” Bowers laughs. "We were expecting to be very inspired by what we saw, and while it really was impressively expansive, it was quite empty. We asked one of the men who worked down there where the rats were. He said, ‘Oh, it's too deep for rats. No rats down here.' So that was a bit of a surpr

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