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MAMMA MIA!

Shooting Mamma Mia
Following several weeks of music and vocal recordings, six weeks of combined costume fittings, makeup tests and dance rehearsals, the Mamma Mia! shoot began on the newly refurbished 007 Stage at Pinewood in June 2007. The lavish composite set, designed by production designer Maria Djurkovic, gave the filmmakers the opportunity to expand the work that Craymer, Lloyd and Johnson had achieved on stage. Djurkovic relied on the script as her starting point, and not necessarily the show.

"On stage, you're creating much more of a fantasy,” she explains. The designer exercised artistic license to make this musical world a believable one. "On film,” she continues, "while it was important to maintain a certain theatricality, I had to create a world that was utterly believable and credible.”

It was a daunting task to build a mini village, while keeping in mind that the set would have to integrate credibly with each aspect of the Greek isle's location shoot, but Djurkovic rose to the challenge. She provides: "The trick to making this work is that it should be visually joyous…it's a musical. The spiritual bit is happy and joyous and slightly frivolous. But at the same time, the audience has to believe what's happening.”

Adds producer Goetzman: "Part of the translation of taking stage to film is in the design. We had to figure out how to take the stage set (which spun on a turntable) and turn it into a film experience. Maria did a fantastic job, and I think people will enjoy the beautiful transition to natural, yet stylized, settings.”

The location-scouting trip in Greece helped inform the style and design of Villa Donna, and both Lloyd and Djurkovic responded to the notion of the resort as a restored building. Overseeing an array of designers, carpenters, plasterers and painters, Djurkovic instilled in the team a precise attention to color, texture and other design details.

After nine weeks of shooting on the Pinewood stages, the unit moved to Greece, where it first shot on the island of Skiathos for five days. Next, it was off to Skopelos for two weeks and, finally, to the mainland in Damouhari for five days. All locations had been determined following an extensive location scout of 21 Greek islands once the project had been green-lit.

Supported by an enthusiastic local crew, the unit faced a number of challenges, including shipping large amounts of equipment, the vagaries of weather, working at sea, a plague of wasps and accommodating a cast and crew of some 210 people on small islands. Lloyd was game for the challenges and says: "We've always been excited by changing what we're doing according to the context. So it's very much meat and drink to us to be in a more rocky place, or a wetter place and having to adapt to the terrain.”

The director, familiar with the landscape as she had backpacked across Greece when she was 17, expounds upon the challenges that come with shooting on location. While she views the islands as paradise, she says, "You have to be prepared to abandon all your best-laid plans. We fell in love with some of these locations quite a long time ago. Then, suddenly, you find that your little beach has been eaten up by surf and you've got to pick up sticks and dash into the woods and do something different. You just have to be absolutely prepared for anything.”

Some staggeringly beautiful locations form the backdrop for the action in Mamma Mia! The Old Port on the island of Skiathos is where Sam, Bill and Harry meet for the first time on their way to the fictional island of Kalokairi, and where Rosie and Tanya board the ferry. Skiathos, the smallest of the Sporades group of islands, is located in the northwestern Aegean Sea. While the smallest, it is also the most developed island of the group and features many fine-sand beaches, several which provided a great s

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