Out of all the sneak peeks and clips shown at Comic-Con, Spike Jonze‘ upcoming masterpiece Where the Wild Things Are was by far my favorite. Maurice Sendak’s book holds such a strong place in my memory that at first, the idea of anyone trying to adapt something that could only be seen in the minds and hearts of children seemed impossible… until I saw what Jonze had created. It’s no wonder Sendak has come out saying that Jonze not only does justice to the book for expands on it.
I and the male journalist sitting next me (read his response) both unexpectedly teared up when watching the footage. It was beautiful to see those intelligent childlike moments be dealt with honestly and simply. When people ask me what film I’m most excited for, I say Where the Wild Things Are. The first thing they say is “the poster looks like a bunch of guys in suits.” And to that I say, absolutely yes and no. Recently Jonze spoke to the LATimes about creating the costumes for the characters and I think it helps to understand the creative process behind making the choice to have men in suits.
The monsters themselves are a site to behold and were something that Jonze struggled with throughout the whole shoot, from creation to execution. Should he use modern CGI? At first he turned to Hollywood special-effects companies, but quickly rejected everything they came up with because he said:
“I wanted the monsters to retain the strange design that Maurice had created,” he said. “Weird, cuddly, charming. Looking at each other out of the corner of their eye. They’d be almost, like, conspiring. You don’t know if Max has total control over them.”
Making something as unique as what he wanted, could not come from the usual places. He went searching for someone who could create the “soul” he was looking for and found it in an illustrator who had never worked with Hollywood before, Sonny Gerasimowicz. He was a graffiti writer turned ad agent creative, and he was exactly what Jonze needed. While talking on the phone, Sonny sketched out a few drawings on a pieces of scrap paper…
“When it comes down to something as delicate as tone, it became clear we had to find someone who had the right aesthetic,” Jonze said. “It’s finding people that have the right judgment, even if they’ve never done the specifics.”
As for the suits, you’re not the only one that questioned them. During principal photography, Jonze started panicking that they would only “like they were guys in suits.”
“It was so hard!” Gerasimowicz exclaimed. “They show us a bare-bones suit and it would be the scariest thing in the world because it’s just a big foam thing. Not doing this ever before, it was hard to visualize.”
Despite the 150 pounds costumes in 100 degree weather and the anxiety from the team, the creators were a success, and a perfect blend between old school costumes and pure imagination that NO one else does now-a-days. Just because you can use CGI, doesn’t mean you have to use it for everything and not all costumes are old, they’ve progressed as well, they’re just not used as often. A tiny bit of CGI was used to help enhance the costumes,
“The faces were static when we shot them and we put the faces on in post-production.”
Overall, the lack of over the top special effects ends up not only making the film feel more real and like you could physically reach out and pet Carol, it allows us to use our imagination, which is really what the story is all about.
Like Jonze said, “It’s not like it’s a big secret. But I want to let that come out later. I don’t want the attention to focus on that.”
Check out the film in theaters October 16th!