The reality is a lot colder and more scary than the fantasy world, although the fantasy world is full of creatures. We wanted to be very clear with that. The color palette of the real world is all cold colors like green or grey or blue and the fantasy is full of warm color -it’s red, it’s golden, it’s yellow. We did the same with shapes. We wanted the real world to be more hostile so we did a lot of straight lines and a lot of angles. We did oversized furniture and oversized beams and oversized fireplaces. In the fantasy you don’t see a straight line. Everything is curved and organic. We played a lot with that…
Originally when we went location scouting, we were looking for some pre-existing construction to start with. But soon we realized that the visual concept for the film was so strong that if we wanted everything to work, we had to be very strict about our choices. In the end we decided that we needed a forest with two open areas where we could build the mill and the labyrinth.
When we were first scouting in the north of Spain, we went to this fantastic forest but we realized all of the trees were really organic- they were scary but in a warm way. We were not happy with that. Guillermo and I talked a lot about how the forest in the story belonged to the real world so it had to stay within our concept of straight lines and hostility. Then we found a pine forest near Madrid. And the pines were really big and really straight, almost like spikes, really hostile. And we decided to shoot there.
When we were scouting it was February and everything was beautifully green and full of ferns, so we decided to start building at that location. But that year turned out to be one of the warmest summers in the last fifty years. Everything that was green started to turn yellow. All the ferns died. So suddenly we were half-built in a place that had been fantastic but was now changing and not really working anymore. What we ended up doing was creating fake grass and fake ferns too. We painted the grass that was yellow, but in the places near the construction there was no grass left. In the end we decided to create fake grass out of splinters of wood and mix different colors. So that’s what I mean when I say that everything was a build or put there by the art department. The grass that’s in the film is fake grass that was added by us, made of splinters of wood dyed different greens.
The script took place in the North of Spain and Guillermo and I always said that all the trees should be covered with moss. It was a very important thing in the film in terms of color and texture. It provides a lot of the greens that create a very cold environment for the girl. But when we decided to use a pine forest we didn’t realize that pines never grow moss! So in the end we took the creative liberty of putting moss on the pines. So every single tree in the film is dressed by what we called “The Moss Team”.