Director Leigh Scott talks Dorothy and the Witches of Oz
By Patrick Luce Feb 23, 2012, 14:56 GMT
The Witches of Oz is a fantasy/comedy that follows the exploits of Dorothy Gale, now a successful children\'s book author, as she moves from Kansas to New York City. Dorothy quickly realizes that the dreams on which she based her books were actually childhood memories, and that the wonders of Oz are very, very real. When the Wicked Witch of the West appears in Times Square, Dorothy must find inner ...more
The family fun adventure Dorothy and the Witches of Oz is now playing in select cities and is an entertaining from start to finish.
Inspired by the writings of L. Frank Baum, the film was written and directed by Leigh Scott and stars Christopher Lloyd, Lance Henriksen, Billy Boyd, Paulie Rojas, Eliza Swenson, Barry Ratcliffe, Sasha Jackson, Mia Sara, Jeffery Combs, Ethan Embry, Sean Astin and Noel Thurman.
Dorothy and The Witches of Oz follows the exploits of the grown Dorothy Gale, now a successful children's book author. As she moves from Kansas to present day New York City, Dorothy quickly learns that her popular books are based on repressed childhood memories, and that the wonders of Oz are very, very real.
When the Wicked Witch of the West shows up in Times Square, Dorothy must find the inner courage to stop her.
With over 2000 CGI shots and effects, spectacular costumes, and pitch perfect actors, the theatrical version of this film is exciting, creative, energetic, family friendly, and simply a fun modern version of America’s fairytale.
M&C was lucky enough to catch Leigh Scott for a few questions about his trip down the yellow brick road, and what fans can expect next.
M&C: Dorothy and the Witches of Oz focuses on a grown-up Dorothy in New York rather than a young girl in Oz. How did the story come about and what was the reasoning for moving her from a young girl to an adult. Why did you want to make a film that blended the fantasy world of Oz with the real world?
Scott: Part of that decision was practical, based on our resources. It’s tough to create a whole other world, but easier to bring those characters into our world. I also thought it would be a neat story device. I knew early on that I wanted to make Dorothy and adult, so it all seemed to be very logical.
M&C: This film reminds of some of the great family movies of the past. How important was it to you to keep it a family friendly adventure and did you find that constricting at all to the filming?
Scott: We deliberately wanted to make a movie that felt like it came out of the 80s. There’s that awesome period in film history where Spielberg was producing and directing films that still haven’t been topped. ET, Gremlins, Batteries not Included etc. And, that’s the era of one of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters. So we wanted to really capture that spirit and vibe.
There was no cynicism in those films, and they were all so rich in a sense of wonder and magic. Things today are too cynical and grounded in reality. I think it’s boring and really doesn’t give the audience anything to aspire to.
M&C: The film’s colors (especially in Oz) really pop. How did you go about getting the colors you wanted, what were some of the challenges of shooting?
Scott: The colors really came from a collaboration between all the key people: Krista Gall (Production designer), Regina Amato (wardrobe), Krystal Phillips (make-up and creatures) and Laura Hill (lead compositor).
I wanted to invoke a bit of the 1939 movie and the whole Technicolor vibe. A lot of the color was accented in post-production as well. We also decided to stay away from the whole “teal and orange” color palate that every movie seems to have these days. We always tried to be original and different.
M&C: This film has a ton of effects in it. How did shooting this film compare to some of your earlier horror films? What new challenges did you face with this film?
Scott: Making this movie was nothing like working at the Asylum [The studio where Scott made horror films such as Frankenstein Reborn and Beast of Bray Road] or making films for Syfy. It was so much bigger in scope, and I had a lot of creative freedom.
M&C: The story has a huge epic feel to it, and a massive cast of characters. It seems like a story that could easily been much longer. What was some of the challenges in the editing room fitting the story into the film’s running time?
Scott: Well I think that movies end up being the “right” running time if edited properly. There’s a lot that is in the overseas TV version that’s not in the theatrical. But only a couple scenes were really on the fence.
M&C: Is there a chance that a longer version could make its way to DVD and Blu-ray?
Scott: I think on the DVD, I’d be sure to include the scenes of Dorothy back in Kansas with Uncle Henry. Lance Henriksen and Paulie Rojas had a great, believable chemistry.
M&C: Several of the characters sport a different look than what the traditional version of the character looks like (such as the Tin Man or the Wizard of Oz). What was some of the reasoning from moving them away from what we have seen before?
Scott: We tried to ride the line between staying 100% accurate to the books and making it our own. Plus, Warner Brothers owns the 1939 movie and they are very aggressive with their copyright. We avoided the old movie as much as possible, for both legal and creative reasons.
M&C: I liked how the witches didn’t use the traditional magic wands and flying brooms for their magic. What was the reasoning behind moving away from the traditional image of the Wicked Witch West to your version (who uses a magical umbrella for her spells and to fly around and also sports an eye-patch)? Also, was there a reason behind Dorothy sporting silver shoes instead of the traditional ruby red slippers?
Scott: In the book, Dorothy had silver slippers, but in the movie they were red to take advantage of the new Technicolor process. The Witch design actually went back to the book quite a bit. The umbrella and eye patch were part of Baum’s original description.
But, we really wanted to make things our own and infused a little “steampunk” vibe to the Oz stuff. We also went with clothing and set pieces in our world that looked like they came from the 1930s, to invoke the MGM movie a bit. You can really see that in Eliza Swenson’s wardrobe and hairstyles as well as some of the props.
M&C: Some of the casting in the film just seems like a natural fit – Christopher Lloyd as the Wizard for example. What was the casting like and what was it like working with such a huge ensemble compared to some of the smaller films you have done?
Scott: It was a lot of fun. The schedule was so long that it felt like making a bunch of small movies. All of the actors were amazing, both on screen and off screen. We were sure to cast people who were not only great actors, but also good people.
I find that it minimizes problems down the line to do that. Some people are willing to put up with certain antics if someone is really talented. I don’t think that’s wise. Especially when people like Christopher Lloyd are the coolest people to be around.
M&C: The film wraps the story up nicely at the end, but it also seems like you barely let the audiences see your version of Oz. Are we going to get more trips down the yellow brick road?
Scott: We are currently planning a sequel. We will go back to Oz, but we will also get a glimpse of some other fantasy worlds as well. I hate sequels that are just the same story told over again. The next one will be bigger in scope and while it will fit with the first one in terms of storyline, it’s going to be very, very different!
Dorothy and The Witches of Oz opened in selected theaters February 17, including Harkins and AMC. Visit the movie database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CChristopher Lloyd Biography -
Christopher Lloyd Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesEliza Swenson Biography - Leigh Scott Biography - Noel Thurman Biography -
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