Buddy: About The Production

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In the late twenties and early thirties, vibrant color epitomized everything that was new and desirable. Production designer David Nichols and art director Roland Rosenkranz realized the importance of it to this period and to the story in recreating this era.

The Lintz's Brooklyn estate was an important site for the film. And because it doesn't exist anymore, Nichols and Rosenkranz used their imaginations to reflect Trudy Lintz's character in the house's appearance.

A Los Angeles mansion doubled for this locale. The design team painted it rich terra cotta and sea green, added architectural details, and re-landscaped the grounds to suit their needs, and to represent Trudy Lintz. "Trudy was a very energetic woman so the color palette of her home had to be bright and saturated," says Nichols.

The designers also realized that Trudy was not only an elegant, stylish woman but one with a sense of play and humor, so they infused the house and grounds with whimsy and fun. We added huge topiary animals to the yard, and gave the apes' rooms and play things a look of fantasy," says Rosenkranz.

To this end, the designers collaborated with co-producer Bill Joyce, the renowned children's book illustrator and author. Joyce first worked with Caroline Thompson to firmly establish the chimps individual personalities. He then painted the prototypes for the painted sequences at the backs of their cages, to represent them. For example, Captain Jiggs' cage had a painting of Jiggs standing on a ship with a spyglass. And the feminine Maggie had a cage mural of a chimp among flowers. Additionally, Joyce designed the yard's animal-themed teeter-totter and slide.

A great amount of effort went into re-creating the magical Chicago world's fair - A Century of Progress Chicago International Exposition of 1933, with a grand total attendance of over 48 million people in its two-year existence. The designers researched the real fair as a foundation, and then built and embellished it on a studio backlot.

"Although it was an incredible exposition for its time, it was a little plain and unsophisticated by today's standards, so we made it more elaborate and dramatic to suit the film's needs," explains Rosenkranz. "For instance, we made the European streets radiate vividly. And our Mayan Temple was much grander than the original," he says.

Producer Steve Nicolaides regards the fair as one of the film's most important locations. "It's the turning point, the pinnacle moment in the plot because Trudy is at the height of her glory, exhibiting her domesticated apes. But, ironically, here, for the first time, Buddy is perceived as a beast when he runs amok in the fair," says Nicolaides.

The company also shot on such practical Los Angeles sites as The Museum of Natural History, the Orpheum Theater and the Griffith Park Zoo.

Esteemed costume designer Colleen Atwood also fashioned Trudy Lintz's eclectic wardrobe to reflect her eccentric personality. After conferring with Rene Russo and Caroline Thompson, it was decided that because Lintz was wealthy, worldly and unconventional, "We wanted her to wear ethnic clothes made from fabrics of India or China; as if she brought back these fabrics from her travels and had her clothes made," explains Atwood. Atwood also went to England to get opulent antique textiles to make Russo's costumes. "Handwoven fabrics were really popular in the 1920s, and England has a great selection," says Atwood.

Atwood had fun designing the costumes for the chimps. Again, the designer used antique fabrics and trims from England, and referred to wonderful children's clothes of the period, for inspiration. Atwood was surprised at how the chimps responded to their wardrobes. For example, "Bongo who played Maggie, loved the costume fittings because she got so much attention. She also seemed to adore her lilac dress. You could tell by the way she held out the skirt and examined it. And Tarzan, who played Captain Jiggs, was a dandy. He knew how to pose in clothes, and I think he just enjoyed feeling them on his body," says Atwood.

What would a well-dressed gorilla wear in 1930? Atwood thought less was more for the title character. "Buddy looked more dignified in less clothes, so I designed English-tailored trousers and shirts for him," she says.

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