Ladies and Gentlemen, DoD fans everywhere, I'm back with a brand spanking new article on how 'Dwarves of Demrel' could potentially do for indie and fantasy films, what 'The Blair Witch Project' did for low-budget, horror films!
A while ago, I brought you the first article for Dwarves, and we looked briefly at the masterminds behind the film: Director, Christopher Raney and co-writer (with Raney) Zachary W. Amundson; the cast so far - Happy Anderson and Ira Amyx, and little introduction to each character, and some very cool concept art to get you all buzzed and excited! Today, I'm here with even MORE cool stuff for you all, including a deeper look into the magic behind this unique film, with Q&A's from the Costume Designers, Prosthetics & Make-Up Departments, AND the aforementioned masterminds, Zach and Chris!
Alright, alright, calm down, we'll jump right in with my Q&A with Zach and Chris, shall we?
DoD seems like quite a unique film, both in terms of the story and the overall planned look, how did you both come up with the idea for Dwarves? What did you draw inspiration from?
Well because of budget reasons, we wanted to keep things cheap and easy. Which is difficult to do for fantasy because you need to create "another world" so to speak. Our solution was having a story about a trio of dwarves struggling to survive a mine collapse.
The fact that typical 'Tolkien' and 'Dungeon & Dragons' based fantasy Dwarves typically have a culture revolved around a mine, led us to having our main characters being just that - Dwarves.
We lucked out with finding the mine which we will be shooting in, which has about 1.5 miles of underground tunnels for our characters to explore and roam through. Unlike most touristy "show mines" or "show caves", which are typically dressed with guard rails, up-lighting and a bunch of other tacky elements. The one we found, is privately owned, and essentially untouched since the turn of the century when it was shut down. It feels like a mine from another time, another world.
Authenticity at its finest! So you have your idea, you have an authentic location, but what about this mysterious creature we've heard so little about? Have you designed the look for it yet?
We wanted to heighten the tension of the film, and there are few story telling devices out there that do that better than having your protagonists trapped in an area with an overpowering force.
Our force, or in this instance, creature, is more of a "Jaws" like invention. You will see parts of it, but it never really comes into full view. The viewers imaginations will probably conjure up something far more menacing than our designer team ever could. Budget or no budget. Think "Blair Witch Project," and how scary and tense that film was, and we never even see the haunting force.
Well, I for one, know that I have a vivid imagination; that coupled with the right tone for the film, and atmosphere, and I'm sure my brain will conjure up something truly terrifying!
Speaking of design, how did you come up with the overall look of the Dwarves, and why the decision to have them be steampunk?
As referenced earlier, our dwarves look embodies many of the typical fantasy tropes associated with dwarves. Think "Gimli" from "The Lord Of The Rings" series. However, the steampunk angle was not planned, and did not come from us.
Our steampunk angle came from Sam Wohl -a concept artist on the film - who gave the Dwarves steam-punk-esque goggles and that sort of transformed our "medieval" Dwarves to more Victorian/industrial ones.
Speaking of Costumes, Steve Starkey from New Zealand's Frontier costume company will be in charge of fitting the actors with the appropriate wardrobe. The costuming and clothing for the actors, in addition to having an "aged" and authentic look, is slightly 'oversized', again to give the actors the look of Dwarves.
Ageing, Distressing, Breakdown or," Art Finishing" is applied to every piece we build whether contemporary of fantasy.
Now personally for me, I know that films like this are always interesting to me, in terms of the behind the scenes stuff. Costuming, especially for Fantasy movies, is a very important aspect. With the main characters for this film being Dwarves, and the actors being anything but, you've got to find a way to "shrink" your actors down to that size. And how exactly do you do that? Well, you don't do that. Frontier, along with the Prosethetics & Make-Up Dept. do that, and here's how:
Yes, we oversize certain aspects such as boots and belts, but we constantly need to be balancing. We want the Dwarves to come from their own world. Pieces like gloves & helmets need to fight the size he is, accumulated from his own world, not taken from a world of "normal" sized people.
The proportions are paramount to the design, as a human sized character is introduced, the differences need to be easily seen without noticing.
Our process's gives the audience a visual history to the character and can easily create emotion without scripted dialogue.
Prosthetics and Make-Up
The FX and Make-up Team is being led by Anthony Canonica who, along with assistant Jessi Grove, are creating the FX magic that will help Starkey and co. fool us into believing the actors are actually Dwarves.
Along with larger prosthetic fingers, custom made for the actors' hands, they'll also have wider, enlarged, prosthetic noses.
So Anthony, did you always know that prosthetic's etc. would play a huge part in the overall look of the Dwarves? Or did you have an alternative method?
Well, the actors for this movie are all men of above average size. I remember when I first met Happy Anderson (Brenn), I thought to myself "This guy is going to be a dwarf?!"
I wanted to give them that iconic, over grown, dwarf nose: and that giant nose, compared to the actor's eyes, mouth, and other features, would naturally make their heads look smaller.
As soon as Zach and Chris came to me about working on this project, I immediately wanted to do encapsulated silicone prosthetics because they look and feel like real flesh. When it comes to prosthetic makeup, less is more. I decided just to make noses and finger appliances for the Dwarves because I wanted the makeup to be a tool for the actor to further discover the character, not be a mask for the actor to tolerate.
I wanted to allow the actor's personality to perform through the makeup.
And there you have it, folks! An inside look at the magic behind DoD!
Start with a compelling story, add in a dash of beautiful costuming, a sprinkling of elaborate FX & Make-Up and a mysterious creature too frightening to be shown, and it seems DoD is well on the way to being 'The Blair Witch Project' of Fantasy Films.
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The Dwarves of Demrel starts production January 2015!