About The Design
To bring the whimsy of DOGMA to life, Kevin Smith wanted a look somewhere
between reality and unreality, in the slightly skewed, eye-popping style of his
favorite comic-books. To get this look, he surrounded himself with a group of
dedicated visual artists who could help transubstantiate his dream-like
storyboards into tangible sets and effects. "These guys really gave their
all," says Smith. "The special effects team went all out and there was
this kind of guiding spirit of 'let's put on a show.'"
"This is the first time either of
us has shot a movie in which we had to deal with questions like are the angel
wings working properly," sums up Scott Mosier. "The biggest thing was
that we really had to let go and invite more people to the party. There were
many more arms involved - special effects, CGI, visual effects and it was a huge
amount of information to process and control. The ante was upped and we lost a
bit of our innocence."
Key to the effort was the work of
production designer Robert Holtzman. "When I read the script, I immediately
knew it was going to be a real challenge," admits Holtzman. Not
surprisingly, Holtzman felt Smith's script read like a graphic novel. He
envisioned the look and feel of the story as a comic-book sprung to life,
splashed with implausible colors and broad strokes that could have come from the
ink of an artist. "I started looking at a lot of comic books for color and
design ideas," he explains. "I used several blank walls and full walls
in the background to give the film more of a sort of hand-drawn feeling. We also
used colors like pumpkin, bray blues and dark grey in situations where you would
normally use white to give the film a very surreal and abstract look."
"One of the great things about
working with Kevin," continues Holtzman, "is that you can bring in a
whole table full of ideas and he just starts thinking as far out as you want him
to and then at the last minute he reigns you in. I really wanted to create a
whole other world with this movie that reflects Kevin's view askew universe,
which has a logic of its own."
Among other things, Holtzman built the
train that takes Bethany, Rufus, Jay, Silent Bob and the two renegade angels
towards the New Jersey climax; the set was then propped on tire tubes that could
approximate a chugging motion. Holtzman also had fun layering in lots of subtle
mythological symbols from various religious traditions - something for the fans
who like to ponder the details.
Adding to the otherworldly feel of
DOGMA are the creations of Vince Guastini, creature effects supervisor, who
worked laboriously to design the Golgathan, an ancient demon that rises from the
bowels of the earth or, in this case, modern plumbing. Guastini also created the
prosthetic angel wings for all of the non-human beings, celestial or otherwise.
Jason Lee explains his character's demonic attachments: "Vince really made
my horns look realistic. I couldn't feel them on my head and they only took
about twenty minutes to put on."
Charlie Belardinelli, the film's
special effects supervisor, took on the task of engineering all the mechanical
effects, including the film's pyrotechnics and shocking creature entrances.
"Kevin basically laid out exactly what he wanted and I collaborated with
the visual effects people and the creature effects people to bring it to life.
It was a lot of fun," says Belardinelli.
Capturing the whole thing on film is
director of photography Robert Yeoman. "So nervous was I abo
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