The Making of the Live Action Cinderella

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Cinderella poster

Disney’s Live Action Movie, Cinderella coming to theatres on March 13, 2015, tells the story we all know and love.  At a recent press event, I had the pleasure of meeting several VIPs including Director, Kenneth Branagh, Chris Weitz (Writer), Allison Shearmur & David Barron(Producers) and  Sandy Powell (Costume Designer).

Director, Kenneth Branagh started the session talking about how it was a big and exciting surprise to be a part of re-telling the story of Cinderella. The biggest surprise was how emotional the movie was.   Asked when he knew Lily was Cinderella, Branagh said the decision was made pretty early although it is never easy.  The characteristics they were looking for in the person playing Cinderella was generosity of spirit, lightness of touch, lovely voice and sense of fun of the absurd and Lily had all that.  After 6 or 7 auditions, he knew and it was a lovely phone call to make (to Lily).    In reference to the film, Ken said they wanted an “immersive experience, something where you were able to taste and smell and feel the whole thing” “Romantic and full blooded” and a lot of planning within the key departments. Cinderella sees the whole world “as it could be not necessarily as it is”. In discussing Cate Blanchett, he said in previewing the film many liked the ending where Cinderella forgave Lady Tremaine and  a small percentage wanted to see Lady Tremaine in the streets being punished. Lady Tremaine created strong feelings and Cate was not afraid of that and even in the scene where Lady Tremaine shares her broken heart, Cate did not play for sympathy. Windsor Park was the location of the scene in forest with trees that were over 600 – 650 years old and they had special permission of the Queen to film. The most difficult part to film was the ball. However, the dance, the music and shooting them, was a remarkable day and everyone cast and crew felt that day was truly magical. In comparing, the live action and original animated film, Mr. Branagh talked about how it felt to bring a fresh look in to Cinderella. Saying there was a sense of the film makers being in on the beginning of something different and new and it was exciting. I asked if there would be a sequel, perhaps what happens next?  Mr. Branagh said I was the first to ask and his response was a simple “who knows”, perhaps Cinderella punching Lady Tremaine in the nose,  giving me hope that perhaps the sequel will give us the closure with Lady Tremaine

Writer, Chris Weitz and Producers, Allison Shearmur & David Barron came in next. Chris Weitz confirmed that this version was based on the Disney version in a respectful and loving way.  Weitz said people remembered the animated version and wanted to ensure the concept was kept.   David Barron confirmed it was such a rewarding experience to be a part of this movie.  When asked what was it about the movie that attracted everyone to be a part of the movie to which Allison Shearmur, simply said “Cinderella”.  Both Weitz and Barron also stated it was a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to pull off such a project.    Regarding the phrase “have courage and be strong”, they were asked their thoughts about the phrase which is so encouraging.  Barron talked about how it would be incredible to pull off a movie that celebrates courage and kindness.    Cate Blanchett portrayed an incredible Lady Tremaine and Weitz shared how they wanted her to be a strong character.   Showing the character as a result of what happens when women don’t work together or help each other was a point Cate Blanchett wanted to make with Lady Tremaine.   The plot twist at the end was a favorite and it was important to have the key people in the scene so they incorporated the deception.   Asked what happens at the end to Lady Tremaine, Allison Shearmur commented that she is a survivor.   Again the subject of a sequel was brought up with perhaps the focus on Lady Tremaine and although there is nothing in the works, if the audience demands it they will be happy to provide.

Sandy Powell (Costume Designer) was the last one to share her experience working on Cinderella.  Her inspiration came from the original film and then she put it aside and just went forward. She did take the concept of setting it in 1940s era and then she just moved forward from there. Colors and fabric were the first step and then design. In discussing the beautiful blue dress, there was no requirements as to the color, but now in hindsight it had to be blue.   For Ella, the intention was to keep her simple. The butterfly motif was also a key feature based on Ella’s affection for nature.   The male costumes were also made elegant but kept on the simple side. The magical slipper shape was developed in glass to accent the lighting while the blue ball gown  took 500 man hours to complete. Working with a great team, Sandy Powell was able to bring an incredible array of magical costuming to Cinderella.

Don’t miss Cinderella in theates, March 13, 2015.

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