It has been just over a week since hundreds of TV and movie lovers came together to meet their heroes along with meeting other like-minded people. There were stars from a variety of shows and films including Arrow , Torchwood and Guardians of the Galaxy. On the Sunday, their was a Captain America panel featuring fan favourite Hayley Atwell also known as Agent Carter in the Captain America films and the show of same name. The man of many roles; Stanley Tucci known for his role as DR. Abraham Erskine in Captain America The First Avenger also joined. During the panel there was a lot of discussion on what it was like for the pair to work on the film together. It was also interesting to hear that when they filmed Winter Soldier they had to edit out pictures of Peggy’s husband because they had just used an extra. Marvel are yet to say for sure who he is.
For many fans something that was still very heavy on their minds was the cancellation of Agent Carter last year. The biggest thing that came from Hayley herself, was that despite wanting do both Conviction and Agent Carter the network did not allow both. According to Atwell they wanted to put her in something more mainstream.. which backfired after Conviction was also recently cancelled after one season. Despite this, it appears Atwell is still very eager to be Peggy again, describing that the show writers already had plans for the third season. She also expressed that she would love to see Peggy and her style grow across the years.
There could still be hope for the show and the fans, the show has a huge fan following online. Who have been campaigning from the moment the show got cancelled from petition, social media pages and the #SaveAgentCarter hashtag which Hayley herself is very aware of, stating that she is “greatful for the fans.” With Peggy having a recent cameo in Ant-Man and mentions in Agents of Shield it appears there still hope, in Hayley Atwell’s words; “Peggy is the gift that keeps on giving.”
On the 31st March gates to the Forbidden Forest will be opening for the first time for members of the public at the Warner Bros Studio Tour London. On the 22nd March I was invited along with a number of witches and wizards to get a exclusive sneak peak of the new exhibit. The sets were built and designed by the talented team who were also behind the film series, including Production Designer Stuart Craig, Construction Manager Paul Hayes, Creature and Makeup Effects Designer Nick Dudman and Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson.
The second you enter the area the mood changes, the chill is in the air and you can hear the sounds of a forest as if it were alive, the studio has successfully created a natural atmosphere artificially . The tall gates and the gigantic trees feel as daunting as they do when you see them on screen. The entire atmosphere is so realistic and It felt almost real, just glad that Voldemort wasn’t there to drink another poor Unicorn’s blood.
At the beginning you are greeted by Hagrid’s costume which really puts in to perspective how tall he is. As you walk towards the next section of the forest you will notice the small details amongst the tress such as moss and mushrooms which gave it that extra touch in making it feel realistic. The forest also gives you the opportunity to meet one of the most gracious creatures in the Potter universe; Buckbeak the Hippogriff. He was to film scale and animatronic which means he can bow to visitors, making it a perfect photo opportunity to remember the day. You also have the option to choose ‘day’ or ‘night’ for the lighting which gives you the opportunity to really appreciate the craftsmanship that went in to creating him.
The next section is not for the faint hearted, because it involves a large spider. As you walk through a gloomy tree tunnel you will see cobwebs above you before being greeted by Aragog at the end. Upon a button being pushed Aragog rises from his lair and his children surround from above, but don’t worry they won’t come to close. During filming the Aragog was actually able to deliver dialogue as well as crawl out of a hole. In this area you can also press buttons that show you how they create wind and mist for the forest. If you are unable to face the spiders, then not to worry as their is a spider free pathway.
Before you reach the end of the expansion, you have the chance to learn about how the Expecto Patronum spell was created in the movies. This a another perfect chance to take a photo as if you were performing the charm yourself, make sure you bring your wand along. Overall this new expansion has successfully bought this iconic set to life perfectly. The atmosphere of a real forest is almost accurate and you get a real incite in to how things were done. I also think it is great that it caters to people that like Ron Weasley do not wish to pay Aragog a visit.
One thing I would like to see is the wait for Buckbeak to bow to be quicker, so that people waiting for pictures don’t have to wait a long time to get it. It would also be interesting if they added more characters or creatures amongst the trees such as centaur or Grawp in the future.
If you are interested in visiting the tour to see the new exhibit, then you can book your tickets online.
If you would like to see footage from the Forbidden Forest then make you check out Perry O’Bree’s vlog from the event which I also featured on.
The costume designer talks working on Agent Carter, inspiration for the costumes and the shows cancellation.
For Agent Carter to be as spectacular as it is, there are lots of people behind the scenes that bring Peggy’s world to life. One of the most important aspects in any period drama are the costumes, representing the heart and soul of each character. Behind it all is Emmy award-winning Giovanna Melton who created costumes for both seasons of the show. Living in a creative household, Melton always had the design background through her father being a fashion designer. However, they never dabbled in to film costumes. At the age of fourteen Giovanna realized her love for costumes whilst attending Shakespeare film festivals. It dawned on her; “someone had to put those costumes on people.”
Giovanna’s long list of credits includes The Mist (2007) and Mob City (2013), considered a trusted colleague by many producers, directors and writers for being renowned in her field. On any job, Giovanna is responsible for picking fabrics, sketching, reading the scripts. Meeting with actors, producers, directors and designers to make sure everything is how its envisioned.
With both seasons of Agent Carter being eight episodes, it meant work had to start fast. Before filming began she would get an outline of what was coming up in the storylines. “That doesn’t change, at least I kind of have a timeline of where we are going.” Only getting the script eight days before filming begins meaning things had to progress fast. This meant there wasn’t space for big changes, the only change in the two years was the red dress Peggy wore during the dance sequence at the end of season two. Melton originally designed something more glamorous but went with something she had worn previously because it worked better in the scene.
Melton would show her sketches and designs to the producers and director to ensure they were on-board, also working with the cast. “I tried to do designs that would make them happy because I already know their style.” Once the process of creating the costumes began, things had to progress very quickly, “I have to have everything done on day one, I have to already know my swatches and take them all around, there are times when you are pulling it of the tables.” The tight deadlines meant she could not be on set all the time from the hard work put into each outfit. “I am always trying to get the clothes out the door! “
When working on inspiration for the costumes she did a lot of research, but Peggy more so. “I have giant folders of all kinds of ideas for Peggy, I always wanted her to stand out.” From the start this was apparent, in the opening scene of season one she walks through New York amongst a crowd of men in dull suits. Whilst she wears a vibrant blue suit and red hat. The script called for her to wear a red hat in a sea of black fedoras. “it was important to me to have equal strength to the men, so I designed a hybrid of two Stretson hats, one from the 30s and one from the 40s.”
Melton gave Peggy’s clothes a comic book edge which worked well-being a Marvel TV show but also because clothes were not very colourful, “it was a sad time coming through the war.” This helped give the character more impact in the statements made throughout. Giovanna took inspiration from Europe with the character originating from the UK. “I used colour for the character advantage, in the US at the time the fabrics weren’t being rationed at that moment, they were still rationed in Europe. “
When sourcing costumes, most things were designed from scratch or made three or four times if stunts were involved. Some things also came from costume house rentals and vintage shops. When asked what outfit she felt was most Iconic, Giovanna stated the blue suit and hat adding its “a symbol of the empowerment of her character.” It has also become a fan favourite at Comic Con events across the world which left Melton surprised, “it was very flattering.” With more fans cosplaying Peggy, it has resulted in the creation of a social media page where fans share information. On occasion Melton enjoys visiting it to answer questions., “I am very receptive to helping anybody.”
An average week on set starts on a Monday filming for eight days excluding the weekend. “we would finish the following Wednesday and Thursday we would start the next episode.” By the time the show aired all filming was complete and editing continued. Being eight episodes filmed at once, Melton explained that it was hard work; “It was exhausting but in that you tend to bond with people more because you spend so many hours a day with everybody.” She was sure to add how hard leading lady Hayley Atwell worked through her involvement in every scene with lots of stunt work involved. Despite having the stunt people, she stayed true to the character by doing all of them.
Credit: Giovanna Melton, early work on Peggy’s iconic red hat.
Fans have naturally been devastated since the cancellation last year, taken it upon themselves to campaign for its return through petitions, social media groups and the hashtag #SaveAgentCarter. Giovanna thought the dedication was a compliment to the show and hopes it inspires its return to our TV screens. “I haven’t heard anything in any direction, I certainly know Hayley said she would love to do something with Peggy again. So, I guess we are all on the edge of our seat waiting. There is still so much story to be told.”
If like me you are a Tim Burton fan or love film costumes, this is for you. The costumes were designed by Colleen Atwood who has worked on many of Burton’s iconic films such as Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Ed Wood and Dark Shadows. When you the amazing detail that went in to each piece such as the sleeve Embroidery on Miss Peregrines sleeves you will be left shocked. It’s small details like those that you never see in person that make these exhibitions special as a film viewer. Like previous films each characters outfit is iconic and quirky and makes the character memorable. It is no wonder Atwood is constantly bought back because she brings Tim’s visions to life impeccably.
Another Iconic costume comes as a pair; the peculiar twin’s who are unable to show their faces. The costumes themselves depict masked ballerinas or clowns and are one of the most recognized characters from the film because of their their quirky and creepy look. Along with the costumes, there is a selection of props such as Miss Peregrines pipe and gas mask, Claire’s hair piece, the twin’s teddy bear and the record player. The Run Rabbit Run record, all included is featured in an important scene that sets the tone for the entire film. My personal favorite out of all the props featured really represents Burton’s style. This piece is a doll that the character Enoch created and brings to life for his entertainment. The doll it self definitely has the creepy factor and appears in a amazing scene bringing it to life through stop motion, something Burton is credited as doing so well.
Once you have soaked up all the cinematic magic and taken in the details of the costumes and props up close, you can enjoy the rest of the museum. Whilst completing the peculiar trail which will keep you occupied in Tim Burton’s universe that bit longer. If you want to see and learn more, then go and visit the Exhibition, which is open from the 7th February to the 5th March. If you want to book in advance you can do so from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not website. If you haven’t already seen the film, it is now out on DVD across the UK so make sure you view it before visiting.
EKAJ (2015) is the debut feature film created by first time female director, filmmaker and photographer; Cati Gonzalez. The film is currently doing the film festival run across the US as well as Spain and Lisbon. Already the film has done well to impress the critics and has been awarded ‘best film’ at the NY Downtown Urban Arts Festival. It has also been awarded ‘best feature film’ and ‘best first time director’ at the Philadelphia Independent film festival. The movie had its UK debut in October in Leeds at the No Gloss Film Festival, known for its showcase of diverse and up and coming film-making.
EKAJ is definitely not filmed in a conventional style, it has a documentary yet raw feel to it and tackles a lot serious issues such as homelessness in a big city. The film was inspired by Midnight Cowboy (1969) which was filmed in a similar way. When creating this film Gonzalez said that “I wanted to write a script about two discarded lonely people that come together because they need each other and eventually become real friends with genuine love for one another.”
The film follows Ekaj (Jake Mestre) a homeless gay teen trying to find his place in the world. After finding himself alone in New York City with very little money, he meets Mecca (Badd Idea) another drifter facing problems of his own. Despite having AIDS and being constantly high he becomes a friend and voice of reason for Ekaj.
Ekaj meets a rich man named Johnny played by Scooter Laforge, a full time artist in New York. He falls head over heels and thinks that Johnny will love and take care of him, this dream quickly shatters. With limited funds and no official place to call home Ekaj and Mecca travel to different motels and couches of ‘friends’ across the city, whilst Ekaj makes money as a prostitute. This way of living is cut short when tragedy strikes, making him realise that he doesn’t have what it takes to make it this way in the city that never sleeps.
The film is a real eye opener into things young people in the LGBT community face on a day to day basis. One of the first places Cati played the film was a LGBT shelter in New York City, where many of the kids could relate to EKAJ’s story. What’s really special and unique about this film is that it has a unconventional style and features real homeless people in lots of the cutaway shots. Cati said that “I tried not to get their faces since I could not afford the entire NYC landscape of people. I wanted to keep the film as true as possible and close to real life, I believe in the closer to realness the better.” This is also a film that hits close to home for the film maker, “Mike Gonzalez, my partner and producer to the film was homeless at 13 years of age, and his mother died of AIDS in the early 1980’s.”
This is a very important film that covers very serious and current issues such as homelessness, rape, domestic abuse, prostitution, addiction and HIV/AIDS. Ekaj’s story is an unfortunately common one, not only in New York but in Cities worldwide. According to research by the Albert Kennedy Trust, in the UK alone a quarter of the homeless youth are LGBT. It also found that 69% of homeless LGBT youth were forced out of their homes by their families. This is a film that has the potential to make the unaware, aware and give young people in the LGBT community going through these issues a chance to have the courage to speak up and be heard.
If you would like to watch the film, it is now available to stream via Distrify.
If you or someone you know is going through any of the issues brought up in this film these are some resources you can use to get help and support.
At the end of October the MCM Expo returned once again to the Excel Centre in London, with pop culture fans flocking in their thousands. As always it was a great weekend and I managed capture some great cosplays which you can see below.
A Monster Calls had its Mayfair Gala during the BFI Film Festival on the 6th October at the Odeon Leicester Square. In attendance included Sigourney Weaver, Lewis MacDougall and director of the film J.A Bayona.