Where The Wild Things Are

by Sayraphim on March 26, 2009

This movie was filmed in Melbourne, a couple of years ago now, and I was lucky enough to work on it. I learnt a lot about monsters, puppets, foam and contact adhesive, knowledge I still use today. In fact I’m currently building 3 dragon puppets, or indeed, 1 dragon puppet in 3 different sizes and as I cut, shaped, glued and snipped yesterday, I reflected on just how much of the stuff I was doing I’d learnt while working on the Wild Things.

The monsters, if you don’t already know, are giant puppet suits that the actors wore, and I was one of three Refurb (refurbishment) techs on the film. Each day the monsters crashed through the bush, rolled down hills, waded into water or beat eachother up, so each night, the standbys on set sent home the monsters who had been damaged by the day’s work where we would fix them up, put bandaids on their cuts and scrapes and send them back to set.

There was a huge amount secrecy around the monsters, so they were always carried around in these giant black body bags (it took two people to carry each one), so it was a little like a monster morgue when we got them off the truck each night. The monster suits themselves did up with ties and press studs up the belly and chest, so once you got them out of the body bags, you undid all the fastenings and the chest would open wide like cathedral doors. Often you’d have to lean right into them to fix whatever was broken. So it went from Monster Morgue to Alien Autopsy very quickly.

It was an amazing job and I loved it. The book was my favourite as a kid, and the monsters were created and built by the Jim Henson Workshop, who were responsible for (amongst others) Labrynith, which was my favourite film as a kid. Most of the time we were in the workshop, but occasionally we were sent on set to fix the guys up, and I tell you, watching monsters crash through the bush live in their natural enviroment was one of the best sights I have ever, ever seen. Plus, getting hugged by stuntmen and actors in huge monster suits is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever been hugged by.

So anyway, this whole thing has been sparked by the fact that the trailer has jsut been released! you have to see it, it’s incredible! And I get inflated chests of pride when I see a scene on the trailer that I stood and watched being filmed or watched stuntmen practise over and over before it was shot. Working on this film was really one of the highlights of my career and I’m over the moon to say that it looks as wonderful as I knew it would.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Creative Beast October 18, 2009 at 2:29 am

I was looking for info on costume work for "Wild Things" and found your blog – i linked your story to a post i made because i worked for Jim Henson for the movie "Country Bear Jamboree" and have great memories of doing this kind of large scale puppeteer work. Hope you are still doing at it =-)

Sayraphim October 26, 2009 at 8:25 am

Hi there and welcome!
The large scale puppets are so wonderful, arn't they? Puppets themselves can create such magic, I'm always in awe of the world they inhabit. I still make puppets, I'm looking at creating a couple of big ones soon actually!

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