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New directions

From: 2011 SBIFF Women's Panel: Creative Forces: Women in the Business

Video: New directions

Madelyn Hammond: So Colleen, Alice was a 40-day shoot and the rest of it, there was a lot of CGI and green-screen. So was that cool for you to work in such a nontraditional way and do what you do, but in a different and a more up-to-date format? Colleen Atwood: Yes, it was different. I think--Who told you it was a 40 day shoot? Madelyn Hammond: Was it not 40 day? Colleen Atwood: I think it was a bit more than that, but--- Madelyn Hammond: 40 sounds good. I mean, 40 is fast. Colleen Atwood: It was a long 40 days, yeah. But yeah. Madelyn Hammond: It was like 40 days and 40 nights Colleen Atwood: There was so much to do on Alice. We did Alice in three chunks.

New directions

Madelyn Hammond: So Colleen, Alice was a 40-day shoot and the rest of it, there was a lot of CGI and green-screen. So was that cool for you to work in such a nontraditional way and do what you do, but in a different and a more up-to-date format? Colleen Atwood: Yes, it was different. I think--Who told you it was a 40 day shoot? Madelyn Hammond: Was it not 40 day? Colleen Atwood: I think it was a bit more than that, but--- Madelyn Hammond: 40 sounds good. I mean, 40 is fast. Colleen Atwood: It was a long 40 days, yeah. But yeah. Madelyn Hammond: It was like 40 days and 40 nights Colleen Atwood: There was so much to do on Alice. We did Alice in three chunks.

We did the opening of the film, which is set in real time in the 1860s in the UK. So we designed the costumes for that and made them, manufactured them, and then we moved to the U.S. with a small hiatus and started shooting the green screen. While we were prepping the other, while we were shooting the other, we were manufacturing costumes for the green screen portion of the film. And as it went along we were making more and more costumes, because Tim was like, you know, "I like that person to be real." So we kept going and going and creating costumes and then they shot the green screen part, which is probably the 40-day shoot.

And then a couple months went by into post and then they decided they wanted elements of the film like the courts and all these other things to be real and not be animated. So I ended up making costumes for the Red Queen's Court and the White Queen's Court, and we shot that in chunks. It was almost like doing three mini movies together. So it was kind of a good way to work because you really had time to focus on each thing and kind of get detailed time in. Which was nice, because usually the train's leaving the station and you're on it and you just have to blast through it.

So it was a different style, but I enjoyed it. Madelyn Hammond: But in addition to all that, didn't you have to also do a lot of outfits for Alice. Because her wardrobe shrunk and widened almost as much as mine, I am sure. So didn't you have to do like more costumes per character? Colleen Atwood: We did. You know, we made a decision early on that that we didn't want Alice to just be a girl running through the whole movie in the same-- Madelyn Hammond: Blue dress. Colleen Atwood: Blue dress, because we've all seen Alice in that light before, and we wanted to make her more of a real girl to people and more of a modern kind of character.

And so the way the device that worked for that, which was really in the screenplay, and I think Linda's idea was that as Alice shrunk and grew that her clothes did not. So she got out of her blue dress quickly and we went into her underwear, which like was a long slip that became a long dress. And then she grew out of that and popped off and then she was naked. And the Queen made her a dress, her court made her a dress. It went with that court and then Johnny made her a dress in the teapot, when she had to get really, really tiny.

And we had these scale charts that we worked off of, with the scale of each character and height that we played with. So there was a lot of work in figuring out the scale of her stripes in each element and how it worked on a human body to make it look like she was bigger or smaller to help sell that. We also had that same thing with the Red Queen's collar, because her head got so huge that when your head gets big like that, it covers up your neck. So I cheated the top of the dress to here, and we kind of faked that out and then we made a collar that help make the neck narrower.

Because when they enlarge the head, the neck look like the torso of a man. So, there are all those little kind of weird tweaky things that you do as you go along. Madelyn Hammond: God, you don't even think about it, wow! Colleen Atwood: Yeah, you don't even think about it. But all that stuff was happening as we were discovering, all of us together really, what we were doing here, because nobody really had quite done it that way before. Madelyn Hammond: It's amazing and if you haven't seen it, watch it again with that in mind. It will probably be like seeing it all over again. So Darla, I have got to ask you.

You hold the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest per film box office average for your four films to date, which is Toy Story 3, A Bug's Life, Cars, and Monsters, Inc. That's crazy! (Applause) So I am curious, and I am sure that some members of the audience are as well. Like who thought of that? Because it couldn't have been you. It must have been your fantastic publicist. And what do you get? A certificate, an award, a note? Madelyn Hammond: How did this happen? Did you check the book? Darla K. Anderson: No. The Guinness World Book comes up with this stuff. Madelyn Hammond: They do? Darla K. Anderson: Yeah. Madelyn Hammond: Wow! Darla K. Anderson: Yeah, which I couldn't, you know-- Madelyn Hammond: Did you have the phony phone call when they are like--? Darla K. Anderson: No, they don't even call you.

But my godson was in the airport. He had gotten it for Christmas. So he was looking through the book and somebody said, "Oh, Darla might be in there." And I was like, "But why would I be in there?" But, you know, it's for kids. Kids love these things. So he opened up. And it made it look like, actually the way it was worded, it made it look like I had $1 billion. It really did. So my godson, he was like, he calls me, "You have $1 billion!" So excited. Madelyn Hammond: Almost, not quite. Darla K. Anderson: It's more exciting for the kids than anything. Madelyn Hammond: Okay, so let's-- we are going to open it up in just a few minutes to the audience, but I got to ask you, Alix, what's next for you? What have you got in development? What's happening? Alix Madigan: There are a few things floating around which hopefully one of them we'll take up this summer.

But there is a movie that we're definitely doing which we'll shoot in Montreal at the end of the year. And the original-- It's been a movie that we've had for 10 years-- a project that we have for 10 years in development. Madelyn Hammond: What's it about? Alix Madigan: It's called Adeline. It's about a woman who has a freak accident at the age of 30 and stops aging and then sees the rest of the century enfold in front of her and ends up falling in love in the process and has to give up her immortality.

And we had a director and an actress, they fell off, and now we are negotiating with another director and an actress. So hopefully that will happen and we'll go and propose. Darla K. Anderson: Well, can I ask a question? Madelyn Hammond: Yeah! Darla K. Anderson: When Winter's Bone has gotten so much press, does that help your endeavors? Alix Madigan: You know, it's so funny, Darla. I mean-- I think it's-- No. (Laughter) Darla K. Anderson: You think it would! Madelyn Hammond: You totally would think it would. That's not right. Alix Madigan: Well, the thing is that I think when you do a movie-- and I do believe this is right.

Essentially is, I think that the artist find the movie, the talent, you know. Obviously, Jennifer Lawrence and fortunately John Hawkes too. And the director, Debra Granik was so amazing, her cowriter Anne Rossellini. They're the ones who people approach for jobs. Like, with a producer, you're kind of like, all right, what do I do next? I mean it's like you're kind of reinventing the wheel again and trying to your next project off the ground. More people I think, I mean, people take you a little bit more seriously, I guess, if you come off it. And they maybe call you back the same day as opposed to three days later. But it's not-- Madelyn Hammond: It's not like people are showing up with checkbooks saying here is all the money.

Alix Madigan: No, not yet. Madelyn Hammond: Not yet. Maybe Darla can share some of her billion. Darla K. Anderson: Yeah, I am writing a check, right now. Madelyn Hammond: But it's getting better for-- it's changing for producers. And so maybe in a few years it will be a little bit easier. Because now this year, for the first year, the Producers Guild has what they call a Producers Mark. So when you start to see films, you'll see next to Darla's name and Alix's name and Lesley's name a little Producers Guild Of America, just like you do with cinematographers. Because what they are trying to do I think is distinguish between people that say they are producers and others that are really there on the set every day slugging it out.

Alix Madigan: It's such a-- I am so glad that you brought that up because when you have a movie that's for Oscar consideration? I mean I know Darla had to go through the same thing, and it's really amazing that Darla is the sole producer that's on any film that's nominated this year. But you do have to go through this very extensive process, which is part of the truth in credits campaign that the PGA puts together. And essentially you fill out these couple of sheets of paper and you know it's for development, prep, production, post.

And you say that you were really involved, somewhat involved or not involved at all, and then you write essays and address every single section. Every single segment of the project, and then they actually vet it. The PGA vets it as well and they call a key personnel, the line producer, the DP, the writer, etcetera, to really see if all that you're saying that you did is right. And it's an arduous process, but I still believe in it, because the producer credit is a much-- It's an amorphous one and it's been abused over the years.

So I think to have this strenuous process, which has been brought about by the awards process, I think is a really necessary one and I am really glad that the PGA is doing that. I think it's great. Madelyn Hammond: It is. It's good. And I think it will clear up a lot of the confusion about it, because it's not just writing the check. It's actually doing, appearing on set, which I know you did, Darla. It was a long shoot, right? Darla K. Anderson: Yeah, 4 years. Madelyn Hammond: 4 years, that's crazy! Well, and then you're not even including all the crazy time in between, so it was actually more. Darla K. Anderson: Yeah, true. Madelyn Hammond: Think about that.

So, I wanted to ask.. Oh Gloria, so you are working on -- what are you doing now? You just left Digital Domain and you are working-- Gloria Borders: Yeah, I just finished working on Tron for the last 2 years, as well as several other pictures that we're doing at Digital Domain. And I was asked by my boss two times ago, Joe Roth, if I would help produce Snow White and the Huntsman, so I think, well, I said yes. And I think Darla was saying something earlier that really resonated.

There is something about being either, whether it's part of a-- Darla, did you say or Colleen about being part of a theater production doing a movie? That makes me very excited, so I thought this might be a great opportunity. So I jumped in working on the Snow White and the Huntsman, which, I don't know if you guys have been reading it, it's getting a little bit of press and I am working with Joe Roth again. Madelyn Hammond: Who is great. Gloria Borders: He is great. Madelyn Hammond: Is it going to be 3D? Gloria Borders: It's being discussed. We'll see.

Madelyn Hammond: Sounds good. So that's cool. And by the way, how excited were you being from sound when Tron got a sound...? Gloria Borders: Well I loved it because of course they did it at Skywalker. So I was really, really excited, and there is a fantastic woman that was the supervising sound editor and so I am really happy for her. Madelyn Hammond: That's so great. I love that. And then what about you? Ae you working on another documentary? Lesley, what do you guys got going on? Lesley Chilcott: I am in developmental, although documentaries don't really go in development.

I just like saying that. I have a documentary to direct, not because I am switching careers permanently, but I am obsessed with this particular topic. So I think that's going to be coming up in another month or two. Madelyn Hammond: Well, can you tell us what it is or it's a secret? Lesley Chilcott: I can't get Davis to produce for me though so I don't what I'm going to do. Madelyn Hammond: Darn! Can you tell us the topic or--? Lesley Chilcott: It's on privacy issues, online behavioral tracking, careless social networking. 13 year olds that have ruined their chances of getting in college just because of something they did absent-mindedly.

Madelyn Hammond: Right. Oh, then that gets into the whole online thing with about bullying and just putting yourself out there. And I mean it just snowballs. That'll be great. Lesley Chilcott: Yeah. I mean there is a lot of shocking-- I won't go into it, but like women that go to battered women's shelters. They take and destroy their phones, because there's commercially available for free GPS tracking systems. So that almost everyone that they were trying to get away with was showing up at the shelters and there was a lot of -- And you can do it on the Internet.

So there are a lot of safety issues and a lot of things that we are just now beginning to think about and see. Madelyn Hammond: Oh, it's crazy. I sometime help people with their resumes and I always tell women, take your address off because you're posting this thing online all over the place. You really want them to come to apartment 208? I mean, it's crazy. We don't think about it, you know. Also, I want to ask you too Lesley. You know, we are talking about giving back and the whole thing with DonorsChoose, but you co-founded Unscrew America, which focuses on environmental issues. Tell how you got involved with that and a little bit with what that organization is.

Lesley Chilcott: Sure. After An Inconvenient Truth I was looking-- We call it the lightbulb moment. After you go and see a documentary that asks something of you, what can you do that's really simple? And, it's funny, because with Waiting for Superman, if it hadn't been for DonorsChoose.. You don't just one day wake up the next morning and say "I am teaching now" or whatever it is that you wanted to do. So I founded Unscrew America and partnered with a lot of LED companies, because CFLs I think are a temporary technology, and there is also a lot of things that go into making CFLs like mercury that aren't good for the environment.

Madelyn Hammond: What's that? Lesley Chilcott: What's what? Madelyn Hammond: What's CFL? Lesley Chilcott: Compact Florescent Lightbulbs. Madelyn Hammond: Oh, okay. Did everybody know that? Lesley Chilcott: So, the idea was unscrew your lightbulbs, this is kind of an older, old concept now. I feel outdated. Madelyn Hammond: I don't like those new lightbulbs. Lesley Chilcott: You screw in something more energy efficient. So next month we're actually, we partnered with a California Lighting and Technology Center. We actually rated a bunch of bulbs and we're putting that up on the site, because even though everyone, including me, wants to change your lightbulbs, there's still aren't that many great solutions offered.

So I went through and did what I call the beginning good person rating. So it was like ooh, warm light! Great, awesome, good to read by! And then the California Lighting and Technology Center did a technical evaluation. And so those will be side-by-side and then maybe it will help people choose lightbulbs a little bit more. Madelyn Hammond: Okay. So what's the bottom line? So the old ones-- the new ones have the mercury? Lesley Chilcott: Well, the CFLs usually have 5 micrograms of mercury. Madelyn Hammond: Mercury, right. Lesley Chilcott: And even so they say it's generally better-- that's the swirly ones generally and sometimes they have cases on the outside.

Even so generally, it's better for the environment because they use less energy, but you have to remember to dispose off them properly. And all these groups weren't teaching you that, right? So, the newer bulbs are LED technology. LED technology is the old alarm clocks with the red lights. Now they figured out how to have all these different color temperatures that are warmer and really nice light. Only the bulbs are kind of expensive right now. So within the next three years those prices are going to come down and everyone is going to have a lot more options. Madelyn Hammond: Good to know. See the stuff that you learn here? All right!

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