5. The Making Of Grisly Grisell
When we were brainstorming for our third film, Grisly Grisell came out on top because the girl in me was attracted to the fairy tale aspect of this story and I knew that we could pull off a picture book telling of the classic while improving our sets.
I also wanted a chance to let one of my actresses have the spotlight as I had noticed her talent in previous films even though she had only been an extra in Outlaws of Ravenhurst and Max & Carlota.
The most challenging part of this film was working with gun powder and creating Grisell's post-accident make up.
Costumes For Grisly Grisell
For this movie, we really wanted some nice costumes for our characters. We had fun using color to distinguish character couples and families. We were excited to do this because sometimes it's hard to follow who goes to who and which character is which. With a visual reminder, we hope that our mainly children audience can follow the storyline easier and know which characters belong to each other.
Besides the red and white rose tunics separating between Red Rose and White Rose for the men, we also had themed colors for the couples.
Lord and Lady Salisbury wear purple and sit in their purple curtained hall. Lady Whitburn wears red, which Grisell accents with the red in her navy blue dress.
The use of color and investing in a steamer really helped make the costumes look crisp. My only disappointment with the costumes is the fabric choice. The material is Halloween costume quality and did not reflect stage light the way I wanted it too.
Michael Bowen as Sir Leonard
Kathleen Bowen as Lady Salisbury
Declan Bowen as Squire #2
Grisly Grisell Budget
With the budget that we were working with however, we are very satisfied with the overall look we were able to achieve.
You have just seen some of our costumes and below you will find pictures of some of our favorite sets. We will be investing in higher quality costumes for main roles and average material for less important roles in our next film. And...amazing sets!
Favorite Sets From The Movie
During the early preproduction stages of Grisly Grisell, we decided we were going to focus on investing the most in sets.
Like the costumes, our sets supported the characters by taking on different hues. These colors highlighted the character's emotions and attitudes.
One of our best sets was Grisell’s chamber. We made it look homey, yet simple because this was a time when Grisell was not being given much by her step mother. We had our floor loom in the corner to suggest industry, while Grisell herself is spinning a roving which is piled in the basket beside her.
Hanging from the wall we placed some drying herbs with the compounds just beneath to show her medicinal knowledge learned at the convent. We were fortunate enough to borrow a very ornamental Prie Dieu. It features a beautiful piece of tapestry!
We wanted the nunnery to really play its part well, even though it takes such a small part in Grisly Grisell.
Since the religious at that time were well-known for their knowledge of medicinal herbs, we had the hand grinder which Sister Avice uses in the scene.
The walls we left bare and white to impress the nuns’ religious poverty. Although they live in a spirit of poverty, the nuns are portrayed filled with happiness and exultation as they enjoy flowers and their life of prayer.
For the outdoor nunnery of Wilton, we actually found a convent near us in California.
The Discalced Carmalite Nuns of Sacramento were kind enough to allow us to film at their beautiful convent. As these nuns live cloistered lives, we did not get to see them and just went, shot and left.
The road was a little steep and scared some of our actors and moms, so we will have to scout our unknown locations a little better next time!
Whitburn Dining Hall
The Whitburn Dining Hall was another fun set. We wanted to make the feeling stoic and gloomy, especially in contrast to Salisbury Hall.
The walls are hung with burgundy red to match the lady of the tower. The place is also ill-lit, setting a dismal gloom on the place.
We were quite happy with the effect of these efforts. The gloom and deep colors set the stage for Lady Whitburn’s bitter temper and constant fault finding.
Interior Bruges Inn
For the Bruges Inn, we wanted a clean tavern, showing the days when a person could walk into one and not meet high spirited revelry.
Grisell works here with smoke always misting the set, which we provided with a bee smoker.
This was to give the effect that Grisell goes from her position of honor as a lady to being a common laborer who has nowhere better to stay than a common inn.
The beam we built with 2x4s nailed together. We placed some kegs on the table along with a pumpkin on the table to pay homage to the Cinderella nature of the story.
The mini village idea was one of the most ambitious ideas yet. We bought small cardboard buildings and green screened all the outdoor scenes onto these backdrops.
We had fun getting different buildings to represent Holland and England. Our favorite Holland scenery was the bridge, armory and the windmill.
The cardboard buildings gave a very pleasing pop-up book effect.
With the mini buildings, we were able to create little villages and shoot at Salisbury castle, Bruges, and Whitburn Tower on all the same day!
Our chapel, too, was a little cardboard building which we were able to green screen rain over.
Grisell's Chamber at Salisbury Castle
Grisell's accident occurs at Salisbury Castle. This is her room after she is injured. We wanted to give the effect that Grisell's sickroom is one full of calm and peace.
The Salisburys themselves wear purples. We put up blue curtains and had a bouquet of lavender in the corner (to suggest a soothing scent). We are very happy with the effect.
The Shoot Days
For this movie, we were fortunate to have been able to rent a garage for a studio. This made things much easier because we had a place to apply makeup, a small dressing room for the actors to change in, as well as sets we could set up and leave until we were done using them.
We also decided that, at the beginning of every shoot, we would start with stretches, a team-building game, a prayer and then move into the studio to start shooting.
This worked great! The actors had a chance to play with each other before getting to work, and everyone entered the day with an attitude that they were there to have fun.
The shoots themselves were very smooth. We had ironed out a lot of the lumps through trial and error and were able to eliminate much of the headache we experienced in the past.
The actors cooperated, we knew what angles looked more professional, and we were committed to asking the actors to redo until it was satisfactory.
The result: a movie about our top book suggestions for tween girls that everyone was proud to be a collaborator in!
Involving The Audience In The Cover Poll
We asked and you answered. Fans chose this cover for Grisly Grisell.
We used roses as part of the symbolism in this cover. Notice that Leonard is holding a red rose while Grisell is holding a white rose.
The less popular cover with the fans was this Grisly Grisell movie cover.
Running this poll got the audience involved and it made post production fun.