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Learning Movement
As the costume, hair, makeup and prosthetics departments all had to deal with the trials and tribulations of marrying the images of the principals with their doubles, so did PETER ELLIOTT. The established movement director has worked on more than 50 features including such classics as Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and recent marvels such as Where the Wild Things Are and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Elliott's challenge on this film was to teach the principal actors and their respective doubles how to all match the manner in which they move. To do this he collaborated with the cast to invent a walk that was achievable by both actors playing the same role. Then, each pair had to learn to walk in a manner that was unique to their particular character.

"I was given three weeks during which we had intense rehearsals," recalls Elliott. "I started with the doubles, just to get the generic framework, then took our principals and worked on walks. People do not realize how hard it is to change something as integral as the way you walk…and then make it look and feel completely natural. It was a tight time frame to get it ready, but we managed it in the end."

One of the most intrinsic things that the actors changed for their walks was their center of gravity. "When we sit on two legs, our center of gravity is completely balanced and in the middle," shares Elliott. "To release the weight from one leg to take a step, we lean backwards slightly, which releases our weight to put the other leg forward. Our center of gravity is continually and very minutely going backwards and forwards."

This was quite different among the taller and shorter actors. Says Elliott: "Our doubles had a whole different way of walking. Their legs are shorter, and they don't have the same distance our principals do in which to achieve that. So they change their center of gravity from side to side, which creates a natural twist in their walk."

It was quite a new experience for our new band of dwarves. "We had to go to dwarf college," recounts Frost. "Peter Elliott, who is one of the best movement coaches in the world, trained us to walk in a particular way for what seemed like weeks and weeks. There was a joke amongst the dwarves on set. You'd just hear someone cry out 'small steps,' which is exactly what Peter shouted at us constantly for weeks while hitting us with bamboo."

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