Winter Snowscapes, as Created by 4 Hollywood Production Designers

9:00 AM 12/23/2016

by Carolyn Giardina

The designers behind ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ ‘My Life As a Zucchini’ and ‘Zootopia’ describe their snow scenes.

ZOOT Tundratown_publicity - H 2016

ZOOT Tundratown_publicity - H 2016

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

    “Almost all our exteriors on Fantastic Beasts were built on the back lot at Leavesden, UK,” production designer Stuart Craig (also responsible for the Harry Potter films) says, though this film is set in New York. “For our snow scene we built a replica of the Central Park stone bridge that spans the pond at 5th Ave and Central Park South. The frozen lake underneath was simply a plywood deck painted white with thinly scattered salt on top." 

  • Manchester by the Sea

    The filmmakers shot in the title town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, on Cape Ann outside of Boston, but finding the locations during a New England winter proved challenging.

    “We arrived in February during the massive 2015 blizzard,” said production designer Ruth De Jong, who shared the above still that she took while scouting locations. “As soon as the roads were driveable, I began scouting with our location managers Kai Quinlan and Alex Berard. Both Kai and Alex were from the area, which made for lots of good conversations about their perspectives on Cape Ann and the people who made up the area. Along with scouting locations, I set out to meet the locals -- shopkeepers, businessmen, policemen and fishermen -- to gain insight into the area to help me figure out where each of our characters should live and why as well as learn about the fishing/working class industry, boat yards, and overall commercial fishing culture.”

  • My Life as a Zucchini

    The stop-motion animated My Life as a Zucchini follows a boy who begins a new life in a foster home after the sudden death of his mother. Of this snow scene from the orphanage, producer Pauline Gygax says: “It is a plaster base. Velvet fibers are flocked with a machine that places the fibers vertically on the glued base. Then we sprinkle baking soda to create reflections. For the animated effects of snow (snowballs that burst), we’ve used torn paper towels, replaced frame by frame.”

    My Life as a Zucchini is also the Swiss foreign language entry for the Academy Awards, which made that category’s shortlist on Friday.

  • Zootopia

    “The creative challenge of designing a city for animals was in finding the balance between a recognizable urban environment and what we thought an animal would design,” says production designer Dave Goetz. “There are four main climatic zones in Zootopia plus several species-specific neighborhoods.

    For each, we studied the climate and living spaces habits of real-world counterparts and tried to bring some part of that into the design. In every case, we acknowledged the varying scale of the animals by including multi-sized doors and walkways or roads. Here we see the main street in Tundratown, where cold-weather animals live. Layering the idea of snow caves or burrows with city architecture, the buildings are carved from snowy formations. The animals make their way through the neighborhood on moving ice floe sidewalks or in snow-enabled vehicles. The signage references the local preference for the chilly climate or their appetites – in this case, mostly for fish.”