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BLADES OF GLORY

Fantasy In Ice
Before principal photography began in Montreal, it was decided that two of the city's prominent architectural achievements—the modernist housing complex of Moshe Safdie, Habitat ‘67, and architect Roger Taillibert's futuristic structures of the Olympic Park—would help define the movie's aesthetic. Initially set exclusively in an imaginary Colorado village, the script was altered so that the film's climactic final confrontation (between Michaels & MacElroy and Stranz & Fairchild) would take place in Montreal—no need for the city to "stand in” for another.

Though the Olympic Stadium (built for 1976's Winter Games) is not without controversy locally, Speck and Gordon found it perfect for their needs. What the filmmakers didn't find so perfect was the unseasonably warm weather that accompanied them just prior to rolling cameras.

Realizing that location filming in March would present a somewhat risky situation, pre-production had spent two weeks prior to principal photography readying the ice, preparing and reinforcing it to be able to withstand above-freezing temperatures … which is exactly what transpired. The temperature rose some 20 degrees, and 48 hours of rains decimated the snowfall and melted the nearly 15 inches of ice. Luckily, their prep paid off, and with a minor reshuffling of exterior skating locations (and a brief return to colder temperatures), they were able to get their location shooting done within schedule. (Later, a digital Mother Nature added more snow and ice where needed.) After the week of filming in Canada, the production returned to Hollywood for the interior scenes, which were shot on soundstages, where interior sets were built to dovetail with the Canadian exteriors. And all the big skating sequences were filmed in sunny southern California— inside the L.A. Sports Arena.

Production designer Stephen Lineweaver was faced with the challenge of making one arena serve as three different sporting venues, and color was the solution. Festooning the arena in varying Olympic color palettes, the designer and his team came up with a winning combination of design and execution that allowed them to redress the entire set and transform it in less than a day. Post-production digital effects also created differing architectural domes that massively changed the look of each arena.

Sometimes a production designer's job is not to make a set look pretty, but just the opposite. For a sequence in which the down-and-out Jimmy and Chazz are training to become pair skaters, they are forced to practice in an abandoned warehouse. Lineweaver utilized a cold storage building as the warehouse, dying the ice gray and brown and dressing the set with cases of frozen fish.

The insular and sometimes otherworldly nature of the sport actually helped costume designer Julie Weiss ("Bobby,” "Hollywoodland”) in her efforts to create the right look for the cast. "The skating world is very specific and, visually, their rules have to do with what a person wants to wear and what makes him feel bigger than life,” she says. Directors Speck and Gordon were also very specific about how they wanted the characters to look, which led to a fruitful collaboration. She adds, "Will and Josh are both very visual and they had some strong ideas about the costumes. At the same time, they gave me so much freedom.”

It also helped that the film's two leading men brought such enthusiasm to wearing the outfits she created for them. "Both Will and Jon know how to wear costumes,” she explains. "Anybody who could dress like a peacock [as Heder does in his first solo routine], complete with tail feathers, and strut around in it with such aplomb that other people wanted to try it on … that makes my job easier. And Will was so excited to get into his one-piece suit with red and ora

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