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It's Judy's World
The filmmakers were as meticulous in recreating Judy's universe as they were in casting its inhabitants. Everything from sets and costumes to hair and make-up is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the books. "Finding out there was going to be a movie was an over-the-moon moment for me,” says Megan McDonald. "But it didn't feel real until I actually walked onto the set. They spent countless hours bringing the tiniest things from the books to life.”

Production designer Cynthia Charette printed every illustration from the books, taping them up on a wall to allow her team to replicate the details, right down to the name of the peanut butter in the Moody kitchen. "This was a dream project, full of joy, fantasy and whimsy,” says Charette. "We felt the most important room was her bedroom. We pulled in the rug, the polka dots, her bubble gum collection and some of projects she did in school, like an armadillo she created for a class project from the book. One of the bigger concepts was playing with scale. In the illustrations of her bedroom, the lamp on the desk is very small, and the piggy bank is very large. We matched that.”

Peter Reynolds' charming illustrations also inspired the filmmakers to portray Judy's vivid imagination and flights of fancy in gorgeous 3-D animation. "One of the reasons I was drawn to working with Sarah was that she imagined a live action film that would include animation,” McDonald says. "Whenever I'd imagined Judy Moody in a film, I wasn't sure whether live action or animation would be best. To see it come to life both ways was so much fun.”

"From day one, I wanted this film to be partially animated because I love Peter's brilliant drawings,” says Siegel-Magness. "We had Reel F/X, the best animation house in Los Angeles, working on this project and it looks beautiful. The animation doesn't overwhelm the live action; it really complements it in a positive way. The difficult part of the process was to figure out how to incorporate it properly into the film without making it look like it's something separate. John Schultz really helped bridge the two worlds.”

The color palette Charette developed reflects the fantasy and whimsy of the books. "We use color to help tell the story,” she says. "I wanted it all to feel like we were in a storybook. I never used primary or neon colors. The shutters on the house are blue, but it's got a little bit more joy in the tone, and the red of the front door is a little bit more cranberry.”

Costume designer Mary Jane Fort was also instrumental in helping develop the color scheme. "Judy's fashion style is unique,” says Charette. "She takes different patterns and puts them together—flowers and stripes, and plaids and polka dots. Mary Jane went downtown and got all these crazy fabrics. When we started seeing those patterns mix and match, it helped inspire the overall color scheme.”

"It was a wonderful challenge to bring a story that people know so well to life,” says Fort. "You have to take what's there and then help it grow a little bit. Cynthia and I worked together on big and small details, from what the wallpaper was going to look like to what color pajamas the kids would have on.”

Each character was given his or her own color scheme. "Judy has rosy cheeks and red hair, she took over the red, orange, purple, yellow world,” explains Fort. "We gave the blues to Frank and the greens to Stink. Amy is a bit more sophisticated, so she's a combination of many colors. And Jessica Finch is a pink girl.

"For Judy's wardrobe, we drew on themes in the illustrations like polka dots and swirls,” she says. "And she uses her clothes like a real child would. She repeats things. She mixes and matches. I tried to imagine the way a child would use the clothes in her closet to dress herself.” Aunt Opal's peripatetic lifestyle and exotic history called for jewel tones, says the designer. "She's done everything and been everywhere,” says Fort. "When she pops in, it brightens up the world. Opal is a grown-up kid with a sense of playfulness in the way she dresses.”

Judy Moody is a hair-challenged girl and one of her trademarks is an errant curl atop her head. "Jordana possessed every quality that Judy Moody needs, except that little curl,” says Schultz. "It's Judy's trademark.”

RaMona Fleetwood, head of the hair department, trimmed several inches of Beatty's hair and fabricated a variety of curls for Judy. "It was all about the curl,' she says. "Everybody in the office was running around with a curl. We had a surf curl and a stunt curl. We have one famous blue curl.”

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is set in Virginia, but was shot in Los Angeles, presenting a few logistical problems for the filmmakers. "It was tough creating the topography of Virginia,” says Luther. "There are palm trees everywhere in Los Angeles, and we had to frame them out completely. We don't have dune beaches in Los Angeles, so we had to go up north to Oxnard. We were able to create a magical world for the movie, especially Judy Moody's street. It is the most unique little street in Los Angeles with beautiful trees and painstakingly groomed homes. It could be Anywheresville, U.S.A.”

But shooting in Los Angeles also offered many advantages, according to Siegel-Magness. "We have all the talent and all the equipment here. Most importantly, this is a family movie and I wanted us all to be able to stay with our families. My kids got to visit on set. All the other moms and dads got to have their kids visit. We went home to our families at the end of the day. That helped to really put our team together.”

According to pretty much everyone involved in the movie, the most elaborate and most fun scene to film was set at the circus. It involved more than 300 background players, circus performers, horses, elephants, jugglers, fire breathers, and a circus choreographer to pull it all together. Many of the extras under the Big Top were from the Starlight Children's Foundation, which brightens the lives of chronically and seriously ill kids. They were thrilled by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear in a family movie based on a beloved book series.

"It was so much fun meeting the Starlight kids,” said Garrett Ryan, who plays budding circus performer Rocky. "It really made me feel good inside. I definitely think that it's something that Judy would do, because Judy Moody is a giving person.”

While Judy Moody is best known for her rapidly changing moods and adventurous approach to the world, Megan McDonald points out that she also has a magnanimous and generous side. Bringing in the Starlight Foundation was just one way the filmmakers tried to honor that aspect of the central character.

"There's a book called Judy Moody Saves the World,” observes the writer. "Judy tries to be very green in the book. She gets her family to recycle and inspires others to save water, save electricity, compost, and all those sorts of things. In keeping with that, Sarah decided that she wanted our set to be as green as possible. It's our hope that we can inspire more adults and kids to think about small things they can do in their own lives.”

Siegel-Magness had witnessed the kind of waste that can go on each day on a busy film set. "After Precious, I promised myself that our next film would be an all-green set,” she says. "I've had a lot of fun taking my personal philosophy and applying it to my business. It sets up camaraderie when everybody's working towards a common goal.”

The producers' efforts to keep the set eco-friendly earned them the Environmental Media Association's Green Seal

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