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RED RIDING HOOD

Who's Afraid
The main antagonist of the story is, of course, the wolf. In "Red Riding Hood,” this integral character was not cast but, rather, created through the magic of CGI. Nevertheless, Killoran says, "Oftentimes, werewolf movies focus on the transformation, but we specifically stayed away from that. This story is not about the transition from human to wolf; it is about a wolf who also happens to be human.” Visual effects supervisor Jeffrey A. Okun worked with Hardwicke on the conception of their werewolf, which had to be as shrewd as it was vicious. He notes, "Catherine was very clear that the wolf needed to be powerful and malevolent, but also very intelligent. Her challenge to us was not so much to generate a believable creature, but a believable character.”

With that in mind, Okun and the VFX team at Rhythm and Hues worked to instill expression in the beast's face, especially in the deep brown eyes that, for Valerie, serve as a clue to its human alter-ego. Perpetuating the mystery of the werewolf's identity, Okun also subtly layered in elements of each character. He explains, "The trick was to grab a little something from each actor's performance, so you might catch a fleeting glimpse of someone's mannerisms and wonder...”

Significant research went into making the wolf's physicality as organic as possible. The VFX team carefully studied the movements of not only wolves but hyenas, cheetahs, panthers, lions, and various dog breeds. "Our goal was to blend canine brute strength with a feline slinkiness so as not to tip our hat whether the wolf is male or female,” Okun says.

On the set, the effects team, together with the stunt team, led by Andy Cheng, incorporated a variety of methods to provide the cast a physical presence with which to interact. Each of the faux wolves was given a not-so-ferocious nickname, as listed by Okun: "We had a life-size Styrofoam cutout called Stuffy, a wolf head with fur called Fluffy, and a cardboard silhouette called Flatty.”

CGI was also instrumental in accomplishing some of the film's inanimate elements. The sets for both the interior and exterior sequences, including the entire village of Daggerhorn, were constructed on soundstages at Canada Motion Picture Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. The production then expanded the boundaries of the stages with a combination of high-tech visual effects and more low-tech mirrors.

There was, however, one shot that needed no expansion: a fantasy moment that was actually filmed on a nearby mountaintop. As Valerie and Peter trek toward the peak, her flowing red cape is in striking contrast with the blanket of white snow. Executive producer Jim Rowe recounts, "We had to keep the unit to a minimum because—even though we were filming in summer—at that elevation, the weather can change without warning and you have to be able to get out in an instant. But it went off without a hitch.”

Within the confines of the soundstages, cinematographer Mandy Walker had the task of devising the lighting for scenes ranging from sunlit days to moonlit nights. Hardwicke comments, "It wasn't just creating outdoor lighting on an indoor stage; we had fire and snow and all those different environments, and everything had to blend seamlessly. Mandy never ceased to amaze me in what she did.” Bringing her extensive design background to "Red Riding Hood,” Hardwicke also collaborated closely with production designer Tom Sanders and costume designer Cindy Evans in developing the overall atmosphere and look of the film.

"Catherine is very visual,” remarks Killoran. "The first time we met with her, she brought in this amazing presentation, which told us how she envisioned the movie, bringing a very cool, hip feel to a kind of gothic world. Much of what you see in the movie existed in that first presentation.”

Although the setting is clearly not contemporary, the filmmakers did not want to denote any specific time or place. "We wanted to situate it in our own little fairy-tale world, in keeping with the story's origins,” Hardwicke affirms.

The rustic village of Daggerhorn was fashioned with some notable features, meant as indications of the threat under which the people exist. Many of the buildings are raised up on stilts "because these people are in fear of the wolf, and that way they can pull up ladders and bolt the doors and make it harder for the wolf to get to them,” the director clarifies.

Another visual clue is the thorns that are on the sides and roofs of all the buildings, as well as on the trees in and around the town. Tom Sanders elaborates, "The idea was that the whole village represents a briar patch where the proverbial rabbits seek protection from the wolves. That's why everywhere you look you see thorns. And in the middle of the briar patch is the grandmother's house.”

Hardwicke recalls, "We had originally pictured the grandmother's house as just a funky, little tree house, but Tom took that idea and ran with it. He designed the house in and amongst these enormous trees so you can't immediately see where the trees end and the house begins. And there are different layers and levels that add so much visual interest. The earthy nature of the house perfectly suited the personality of the grandmother.”

Adding to the rough-hewn feel of the village, all of the furniture in the homes was built from scratch. Set decorator Shane Vieau says, "We thought we could source what we needed, but as we got into it, we found that everything had to be of a precise shape and size. Since we had our own milled wood, we started building the furniture and it progressed from there. A few people on our team were expert woodworkers, so it was an absolute joy for them to do.”

Fabrics were used on the sets to lend color to the otherwise muted tones that are inherent to wood, stone and metals. However, there is only one place that the color red appears—Valerie's signature cloak, from which the title "Red Riding Hood” is derived. Early in pre-production, Hardwicke consulted with illustrator Kit Stolen on the initial concepts for the all-important cloak. The director then reunited with costume designer Cindy Evans. "Cindy and I collaborated on ‘The Lords of Dogtown' and ‘Thirteen,' and I was so happy to work with her again. She has the most beautiful taste and really cares about every detail in making the costume fit the character. Cindy began working on the cloak design, researching styles and fabrics from around the world.”

There are actually two incarnations of the red cloak: one, seen in a fantasy shot, is 20-feet long and is made entirely of velvet; and the main one, worn throughout the film. Evans details, "We did a broad fabric search and even contemplated weaving our own cloth until I happened upon a heavy-woven, two-tone silk matka—better known as raw silk—which was perfect. I had a whimsical swirling pattern silk-screened about ten inches around the border and then had the pattern hand-embroidered over it using six different tones of red. It all turned out quite lovely.”

"It was beautiful,” Amanda Seyfried attests. "Wearing it did make me feel like a fair maiden in a storybook.”

For the costumes of Valerie's two suitors, Evans went for contrast, noting "Peter's style comes from necessity; Henry's comes from wealth. We wanted Peter to have an edgy look. As a poor woodcutter, Peter would have made his clothes from bits of leather and scraps of material that he stitched together. Henry was the opposite. Coming from an affluent family, he had the money for more tailored clothing.”

Evans and Hardwicke saved the most extravagant look for Father Solomon, whose deep purpl

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