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The Wheel World: The Design
The look of WHIP IT goes from rural home town to the streets of Austin, as Bliss journeys from the pageant world to the totally opposite derby world, through a storm of colorful emotions and situations. From the beginning, Drew Barrymore had a vision for how she wanted to visually bring the full spectrum of Bliss's experiences to life on the screen. "There were so many different styles that I wanted this film to have,” says Barrymore. "It was sort of a greedy vision. I love comedy. I love action and I love human drama because we have all that in life, and I wanted to mix all of those together.” She and Mendel put her vision into action by pulling together a rock-solid creative team, including cinematographer Bob Yeoman, Oscar® nominated editor Dylan Tichenor and music supervisor Randy Poster, all of whom Mendel had made multiple movies with as well as production designer Kevin Kavanaugh and KILL BILL costume designer Cat Thomas, with whom Barrymore had recently worked.

Yeoman --- who is known for taking on strong thematic stories, ranging from Gus Van Sant's DRUGSTORE COWBOY and all of Wes Anderson's films – was immediately impressed with Barrymore's preparation. "Drew had lots of visual ideas. She had put together a book of photos for each scene, which was our starting point. We then played with different processing and began to establish a look for the film,” he says. "Based on the way she described what she was looking for I thought of John Huston's FAT CITY which was shot by Conrad Hall. Drew watched it and loved it so we used that as a reference. This is also a movie with a lot of women so having our actresses look good dictated a lot of my lighting. We wanted contrast without harshness.”

The biggest challenges lay ahead, however, as Yeoman had to rely on sheer ingenuity to come up with creative ways to capture the visceral, hard-hitting intensity of roller derby – from a skater's inside perspective. "The girls move very quickly and my concern was how to shoot without a camera moving quickly around the track,” he explains. "We didn't want to use a regular ATV with a camera mount because they're gas powered and it would spew fumes into the skaters' face. I thought of a bicycle but it wasn't' fast enough. We finally found a perfect electric cart modified for film use.”

Yeoman often shot with three cameras simultaneously, grabbing all the perspectives Barrymore was after. "We had one of our stuntmen hold the camera on his chest and skate with the girls so you get a bird's eye view of what it's like to be in the pack. We also have dolly shots where you travel for a long time and it's very smooth and gliding,” says Barrymore.” I also really like the rough and tumble of hand-held and Bob operated the camera himself for some awesome hand-held shots. I mostly wanted to keep it old-school and traditional because those are the kinds of films that growing up made me want to direct .”

To design the world that Yeoman captured, Barrymore was looking for someone with a fresh perspective. She found that in Kevin Kavanaugh, who makes his production designer debut with WHIP IT, but has served as an art director on projects including THE DARK KNIGHT and TRANSFORMERS. "Drew wanted someone with a clean eye,” Kavanaugh notes. "We talked a lot about the two stories in the film, the contrast between the beauty pageants Bliss enters for her mom and the roller derby world where she fits in. We didn't want to make fun of the beauty pageants or make them wildly over the top so we kept that simple. The derby world is more punk rock and underground, but what interested me is their parallels. They're both about costumes and being on stage and developing a persona.”

Kavanaugh created the derby warehouse utilizing an actual derby banked track at an empty Monarch Steel Company warehouse in Detroit. The massive<

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