The Christmas season has remained a source of inspiration for many film directors, producers, and screenwriters. In collaboration with media giants, they have utilized the festive period as a prime time to release warm, comedic, snow-filled, and love-themed movies and animations well suited for all ages.
Director Jon Favreau is one of the many movie creators who have taken a stab at doing something that revolves around Christmas. By sheer genius, he delivered to viewers a visual representation of the spirit of Christmas via the holiday movie “Elf.”
One of the many instances of Favreau’s masterful directing was how he portrayed the height difference between lead actor Will Ferrell‘s Buddy and his peers. Read below for details on how the creative team made the scene without CGI.
The Forced Perspective
In an interview with Rolling Stones, Favreau reflected on his time on the set of “Elf.” He shared his memories and referenced the film’s north pole scenes. The director made a huge revelation that the film had a small budget and had to minimize the use of CGI during production.
The creative team used a technique to portray the height differences for the actors while filming the North Pole scenes. Favreau called it “The forced perspective,” which involves building two sets, one smaller than the other, then explained how it worked.
“One set was raised and closer and smaller, and one is bigger and further away,” Favreau said. “And if you line up those two sets and measure them, you can have one person on one set appear to be much larger than a person on the other set. We did that for all the shots at the North Pole.”
The director continued; “And if you look closely, you can see the two sets meet because we didn’t use CG to paint over that or blur it. I wanted it to have the same flaws that it would have had, to make the movie feel more timeless. It made for great souvenirs. I have a Louisville Slugger that’s four and a half feet long in my office that the elves were building.”
“Elf” followed the life of Buddy, who always felt different from his peers due to his height. Later, Buddy discovered his origins, and upon this revelation, he embarked on a trip to New York to meet his biological father.
Unfortunately, reuniting with his father did not bring the immediate happy ending Buddy was hoping to get. James Cann, who played the role, was unaware of his existence and dismissed Buddy when he came to the office.
Buddy then encountered Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) and fell for her when he visited the mall. He built a relationship while going through some ordeals with his newfound relatives: his father, his stepmother Emily (Mary Steenburgen), and half-brother Michael (Daniel Tay.) In the end, Buddy’s arrival changed the bond in the family for the better. He also helped humans better appreciate the beauty of the Christmas season.
Ferrell Almost Didn’t Get The Buddy Role
Inspired by his childhood love for Christmas movies, David Berenbaum created the “Elf” script. After finishing the screenplay, he and The Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA) made plans to produce the film.
However, the studio heads wanted “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Farley to portray Buddy, but Berenbaum disagreed. The writer’s reasons stemmed from his worries that the plot might change if Farley got picked for the role.
Subsequently, Berenbaum liaised with New Line Cinemas to produce the film. With a budget of $30 million, he and film producer John Berg started the hunt for who would take up the Buddy role.
Ultimately the duo convinced Ferrell to sign up for the part, and the rest they say is history.
Will Ferrell Turned Down The Chance To Reprise His Role In A Sequel
“Elf” grossed over $200 million worldwide against a production budget of $33 million. It also garnered critical acclaim for being a good-natured, humor-filled, family flick, as Ferrell delivered a near-perfect performance as one of Santa’s tallest helpers.
Following the film’s release, Ferrell received an offer to return in “Elf 2”. Astonishingly, he rejected the deal, worth $29 million at that time. The actor’s reason was partly due to his fear of the movie bombing after having an excellent first installment.
Also, co-star Caan once disclosed Ferrell and Favreau had some issues, which could have prompted the lead actor to turn down the opportunity. Despite “Elf 2” never seeing the light of day, “Elf” has etched its place as a modern classic and still enjoys multiple viewings during the holiday season.