Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SeenOn's Interview with Director Catherine Hardwicke

To get some background for our Red Riding Hood Private Sale Event, we had the chance to talk to Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Red Riding Hood (and helm of the original Twilight movie.) She had some great insights about the history of the story and why the characters were costumed the way they were.

SeenOn: This version of Red Riding Hood does not seem like a fairy tale. Where did the idea of a grown-up version of Red Riding Hood originate?
Catherine Hardwicke: Leonardo di Caprio’s company, Appian Way, came up with the idea of a sexy, grown-up Red Riding Hood and hired horrormeister David Leslie Johnson (Orphan) to write the screenplay.   David studied the origins of the fairy tale – going back to its earliest and darkest roots.  In some medieval versions of the tale, the Big Bad Wolf was a WEREWOLF!

SO: There are so many different versions of Red Riding Hood that have been told over the years. How did you settle on the setting for the movie? How true were you to the original story?
CH: Exactly!  There is no “original” story — so we got to be creative! In every story, one constant was always there:  a young girl goes into the dark woods.  So we built a fairy tale forest with giant twisted trunks and lethal spikes.
Red Riding Hood’s house is built out of thick logs and raised up on stilts – for protection against the wolf.  The Grandmother literally lives in a tree house.

SO: The cape is such an integral part of the story. In some scenes, it’s huge and dominating. Can you tell us how it was designed? How many different versions of the cape did you use while filming the movie?
CH: We had two main versions of the cape. The 20 foot long red velvet cape was created for the dream sequences.  A helicopter dropped us off on top of a glacier and when we unfurled the cape, it was this brilliant crimson ribbon slashing across the vast frozen landscape.
The cape was the ultimate challenge for costume designer Cindy Evans.  She literally searched the world for the most brilliant red fabric that would drape beautifully.  Ultimately, she used an Indian silk and had a sewing circle of 14 women stitching elaborate patterns into the cape.

SO: Unlike Twilight, whose fans were very invested in the original source material, it seems you have more room for creative interpretation for a story like Red Riding Hood. What are some examples of your own personal interpretation as director?
CH: For the celebration scene, I was inspired by my experiences at Burning Man – which has its roots in medieval, pagan rituals.  Our Music Supervisor Brian Reitzall (Lost in Translation, Virgin Suicides) hired Swedish band Fever Ray to create a song, then choreographer Sarah Elgart created a dance that felt ancient, but very sexy.   We basically created a medieval RAVE!

SO: The film is quite visually striking. What inspired you to create the visual mood and color palette for the film?
CH: I love Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings form the 1500’s – especially the Garden of Earthly Delights.

SO: Did you have a hand in creating the looks for the characters? What role did you play in costume and production design?
CH: As soon as I read the script, I started collecting cool images: luscious red dresses from Alexander McQueen – gorgeous girls posed in giant bird’s nests in the forest.   Vogue did a whole Red Riding Hood layout with sexy wolfs and hot chicks in the woods.  A wild “steam punk” illustrator, Kit Stolen (look him up online, ladies – he’s tall with long dreads), helped me sketch some hip, deconstructed looking capes   — creating a bad-ass Red Riding Hood.
We also drew lots of rough pencil drawings of the village, which Kit “painted” in Photoshop.
When costume designer Cindy Evans and production designer Tom Sanders were hired, they took all my research and drawings and ran with it.  We all had a great collaboration.

SO: It always seems like costuming for a period piece would be so much fun. What kind of research was done for the trends from this period in time, and what was done to modernize the look for the film?
Costume Designer Cindy Evans and I looked at paintings from the period but we didn’t want to be trapped into specific museum-perfect references.   We wanted the clothes to be functional and sexy.
As Red Riding Hood, Amanda wears a tight, low waisted dress with short sleeves and detachable fingerless arm-warmers.  Her Grandmother, played by 60’s style icon Julie Christy, wears a similar low-waisted dress, fingerless gloves, layers of charms and necklaces, a deconstructed head-wrap, and silver dreadlocks that reach down below her waist.
Shiloh Fernandez, who plays Peter, wears black leather shirt, cape, and tight leggings.  All the stitching is asymmetrical – it’s as if he skinned the deer and made the clothes himself.   He wears tight knee-high black boots that are wrapped with leather straps.   All his necklaces are functional – they can be used to sharpen his axe blade or cut a length of rope. Plus, he looks hot.

Thank you so much, Catherine!

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