The word heartwarming is thrown around a lot in the world of media, but never was it more deserved than in the 2020 Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso. This series follows the character of the same name, Ted, as he goes from coaching American football in Wichita, Kansas to leading AFC Richmond, a professional British football club (or as we Americans say, soccer). He is definitely a fish out of water but in the most charming and likable way. Recently, we got to sit down with the creatives behind Ted Lasso to find out how everything from the visual effects to the hair and makeup all work together to make one of the most delightful shows out there today.
One of the challenges for casting director Theo Park was finding talent that could play soccer and act. “Obviously we had to find actors who could play football as well, so that was interesting. We saw some amazing auditions from actors doing some keepie uppies in their garden with a mate videoing them.”
She goes on to say they focused on finding actors who could do comedy rather than comedians. “Because we really needed to see heart and soul from every single member of the cast so they had to be really strong actors as well as clever comics.”
Costuming, Hair & Makeup
Costume designer Jacky Levy had not only the challenge of designing the jerseys for games and practice for the team, but also the style and clothes for all the characters including formal wear for the charity gala. Rebecca, played by Hannah Waddingham, was a particularly challenging character to design just the right look for her powerful and vulnerable character.
Levy says, “It starts with talking to the actors themselves. I’ll discuss with Hannah and Juno the scenes… and we go collaboratively from there. Rebecca is a very successful and strong person in the show but she does have this vulnerable side. We try and make her costumes pick that powerful position that she holds but also trying to keep it real. We like to have her fit in the football world but she keeps a femininity as well.”
Makeup and hair designer Nicky Austin elaborates on how she and Levy collaborate to make each character shine: “We have a lot of fun. Juno in particular. Keeley’s such a great character… Every character has their own journey so we have to take that into account. So when we first see Keeley in the locker room we see the old page 3 girl images in the locker and that’s the start of her journey and we are trying to build her into this professional which is very much done through the costume and the makeup. The fact she wants to be taken more seriously impacts her style.”
Production Design & Visual Effects
Most casual viewers probably have no idea the amount of visual trickery goes on to make Ted Lasso work. Amazingly all of the soccer crowd scenes and game audiences are all visual effects, and not actual crowds.
Production designer Paul Cripps says, “Kipp Kroeger (post producer) made it look like we played football games in premiere leagues in real stadiums. There are two sides to the production design with the real sets and the post sets that they did. I think the combination of those two things really work because the thing that often lets down sports films or comedies is the sports part but I think ours holds up pretty well”
You can see a breakdown of the visual effects for the show in this video made by Barnstorm VFX and supervisor Lawson Deming:
It Takes a Team
There are many other key players that work together to make a show like Ted Lasso work including sound designers, music composers, editors, writers and of course actors. If you haven’t seen season 1 check it out on Apple TV+ and get ready for season 2 this July. And remember… just like Ted says, “You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a ten-second memory. Be a goldfish.”
About the AuthorRachel is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic that has loved animation since she was a little girl-belting out songs from 'The Little Mermaid'. She reviews as many films as she can each year, and loves interviewing actors, directors, and anyone with an interesting story to tell. Rachel is the founder of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast, and the Rachel's Reviews Podcast and YouTube channel, which covers all things animated including a monthly Talking Disney and Obscure Animation show.
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By Rachel Ogden — 2 years ago
What’s your favorite movie?
Don’t say you don’t have one. Everyone has one, you just don’t know what it is yet; it’s something you can turn on whenever; something that makes you smile every time you talk about it; something that impacted you and continues to amaze and delight you with every re-watch. I also believe our favorite movies are ones that define us, that connect in perhaps indefinable ways to our own stories and help mold and shape our choices onward. Is that a little extreme? Maybe. But quarantine has made me extremely grateful for movies and for the Backseat Directors community. So as we celebrate its 20th anniversary, allow me to share with you my all-time favorite movie: Gladiator (2000).
A Dream that was Rome
Let’s set the scene—it’s 180 A.D., and Emperor Marcus Aurelius is waging war with Germanic tribes, accompanied by his loyal Roman general. His son, Commodus, is brutal and unfit to be emperor, so Marcus Aurelius asks this general (who is the former lover of his daughter Lucilla) to take his place as heir to the Roman Empire. Naturally, Commodus is hurt by his father’s decision, and Marcus Aurelius is killed. Without the Emperor’s choice of heir made public, Commodus takes his father’s place as Caesar while the loyal general is exiled.
Those who have seen Gladiator might recognize the plot points and characters found in this description, but this synopsis actually belongs to a movie called Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). Considering the latter was released to an audience well-acquainted with Roman epics, the studio expected it to be a smash at the box office like Quo Vadis (1951) and Cleopatra (1963) before it. After all, it starred such titans of the screen as Sophia Loren (Two Women), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), Alex Guinness (Star Wars) and Stephen Boyd (Ben-Hur). The studio had spared no expense; the film’s Battle of the Four Armies (not to be confused with the Hobbit movie) involved 8,000 extras, and the Roman forum they built is still the largest outdoor film set in Hollywood history (yes, even bigger than Hobbiton). But the film was an utter failure. It tanked at the box office, almost single-handedly bankrupting its production company. Critics of the time panned it as being too ostentatious and devoid of humanity and drama (ironically today it holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). So much for the glory of Rome. Fall of the Roman Empire was the last of the old Hollywood Roman epics, famed for making its title ironically intuitive and credited with killing the genre.
For 35 years, Hollywood steered clear of Ancient Rome, the Caesars, and the Coliseum. That is, until a screenwriter named David Franzoni had a pitch meeting with DreamWorks and suggested that they make a gladiator movie. Even though Fall of the Roman Empire was a disaster, the idea of making a Roman epic was thrilling enough to attract an acclaimed cast and crew. This included Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) as director and a rough-and-tumble, goofball Aussie/Kiwi named Russell Crowe (L.A. Confidential) as the lead character, Maximus. The supporting cast included seasoned veterans like Richard Harris (Harry Potter) and Oliver Reed (Oliver!) and relative newcomers like Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman). Hans Zimmer was invited to compose the score, and he had the good sense to bring on Lisa Gerrard. In addition to these well-knowns, 566 other names are listed in the credits (I counted). It was the dream team, and the movie’s success is owed to each and every one of them.
Death Smiles at Us All
When Gladiator won Best Picture at the 73rd Academy Awards, three producers took the stage to accept their Oscars. One of them was Branko Lustig, a native of Yugoslavia who as a boy spent years imprisoned during the Holocaust. He survived Auschwitz but lost the majority of his family. The life he went on to live is the best representation of why the movie he helped to make endures. Maximus is a hero who loses everything, but not because of a mistake or a momentary lapse of judgement: it is his very goodness that brings on his head punishment, heartache, and loss. But it’s his adherence to his principles that allows him to rise and eventually challenge the corrupt Emperor in the Coliseum, becoming leader to a Rome that lost its way. Overcoming adversity through strength and honor against even insurmountable odds is not uncommon in Hollywood pictures, but few films resonate with a worldwide audience the way Gladiator did. It’s what made Roman epics so popular in the first place.
Despite the talented and dedicated people involved, the making of Gladiator was fraught with difficulty and chaos. Much of Franzoni’s original screenplay was thrown out, so they began shooting with only about 31 pages of script. Dozens of other writers weighed in, brainstorming ideas that were often rejected and ridiculed by Scott and his actors (especially Crowe). While filming, the script was often freshly written the night before. When they flew a 300-person team to film the second act in Morocco, there wasn’t a line of script to work with, just a repurposed soccer stadium where they could shoot some gladiator bouts. The toll of filming such an epic affected everyone involved; Crowe was battered and injured throughout shooting, and Phoenix was incredibly anxious about his performing abilities and physique. Just as the end of the arduous shoot came into sight, tragedy struck: Oliver Reed (Oliver!), who plays the retired gladiator Proximo, died while shooting in Malta. Instead of replacing him with another actor, the ending was rewritten and filmed with the help of CGI and extra footage.
Gladiator was released on May 5, 2000. Even with its first act similarities to Fall of the Roman Empire, the final result was a journey more reminiscent of Ben-Hur (1959) and Spartacus (1960), with similar success. It’s a simple story: the general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator, and the gladiator who defied an Emperor. But it did the impossible; it ushered in another age of sword and sandal epics with a loose remake of the very movie that killed the age before. It won five Oscars, conquered the box office, and won over fans everywhere. Despite the legendary and extensive careers of both Crowe and Phoenix, today it remains the film they are most asked about in interviews. Franzoni, whose script was repeatedly thrashed, rewritten, and criticized, earned an Oscar nomination for his writing and took home an Oscar beside Branko Lustig when the film won Best Picture. It renewed a love and interest in Roman history in the United States (termed “the Gladiator effect” by the New York Times) and led to a series of movies and television shows set in Ancient Rome, though none of them were able to reach the same level of success. A Roman epic was not, and still isn’t, a guaranteed win for a movie studio, but Gladiator was a home run.
Are You Not Entertained?
So why now? Why take the time to extoll the stories and virtues of this film beyond my own obsessive fandom? Because I think Gladiator is the kind of film that inspires people to be artists. It’s the kind of film that pulls people like Richard Harris out of semi-retirement because they just can’t say no to starring in it. Nobody would go into entertainment if not for those kinds of films, and I’m sure everyone at Backseat Directors could tell you the films that made them love movies. With a founder who left a corporate career to pursue a passion and a group of writers made up of professional critics and film fanatics alike, we might be a dream team of dreamers not unlike the one Ridley Scott put together.
Hollywood became an empire because it told stories that captivated our imagination and elevated our perspective. Seated with our popcorn and good company, we enjoy visual storytelling that transports us across continents and to time periods both real and imagined. The beauty of art is its subjectivity, so this will not be true for everyone, but for me, Gladiator is Hollywood at its best. It is the ultimate hero’s journey: overcoming adversity by maintaining principles that the outside world calls you to abandon. The story on the screen and the one taking place behind the scenes can inspire and encourage us as we write our own stories. Daring to believe in your own creativity and build something that’s yours is not always easy, and the rewards are not always apparent. While your leap of faith may not be quitting the corporate life or standing up to corrupt dictators or taking a 300-man crew to Morocco with only an inkling of what you’re going to film, seeing people do so can give you courage. There’s always a chance that your idea will turn out like Fall of the Roman Empire; but if there’s something you feel drawn to do, something you can’t stop thinking about that lights you up inside, could it be worth the chance of failing? I’m certainly no expert on the subject. If there’s anything we can learn from Gladiator, it’s that life is short; but as a fictional man once said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
“When you grow up in the suburbs of Sydney or Auckland……or the suburbs of anywhere, you know, a dream like this seems kind of vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable. But this moment is directly connected to those childhood imaginings, and for anybody who is on the downside of advantage, and relying purely on courage: it’s possible.”Russell Crowe, Oscar for Best Actor acceptance speech (2001).Post Views: 2,140
By CJ Marshall — 1 year ago
As I peruse the awesome film lists that people have been compiling to educate allies on racial inequity, there are a couple films that seem to be missing (The Help and Green Book are decent and all, Hidden Figures as well) but where is Higher Learning or American History X? Where is Queen & Slim? Where is 12 Years a Slave?
… I have an opinion on that.
As a Black man, I’ve looked at many of the recent films on Civil Rights and thought to myself, “That’s not for me. That’s for the white audience.” These are films that focus more on portraying Black people as people of virtue and worthy to be treated fairly. News flash, folks: we deserve equal rights based on our humanity. Nothing more. Nothing less. These films offer no accountability, which is what is sorely needed now. The latter films are rarely mentioned because they hold a mirror to people’s faces and show them things they don’t want to see or acknowledge. I believe 12 Years a Slave is the perfect film to watch if you’re serious about understanding.
To clarify, I’m not saying you aren’t serious about being an ally if you don’t watch it; I’m saying it’s the perfect film to watch. It’s an essential film based on the craft used to create it alone—impeccably shot. Solidly written. Powerfully acted. Emotionally scored. It has all the makings of a film that garnered multiple prestigious awards. It’s also without a doubt the most unflinching portrayal of slavery ever committed to film. This is what we need right now. Our streets are filled with gas. Our buildings are burning. Alliances are shifting. Friends are becoming enemies. Enemies are becoming allies. It’s a tumultuous time.
Almost all of this turmoil can be traced back to the slave trade, and what better way to educate yourself on a root cause than to watch the best film made on the very subject?
To those who haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, or are descended from slavery, I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t your typical slavery film. This isn’t about glorifying a historical figure. It’s about narrowing the lens on the crime against humanity that is slavery. This is about one man’s fight for his freedom on a physical and existential level. You can take that harrowing journey and then realize that millions fought that same battle in their own way. Slaves were not a monolith then, just as marginalized people are not a monolith now. The oppressors would have you believe this because it’s how they reconciled their atrocities—by convincing themselves we are not individuals and we are lesser beings. There’s even hope among the chaos, because Solomon Northrup persevered through his ordeal. We, as descendants, can take his example as a microcosm for our own struggles. He survived with his character and dignity intact. He remained sure and proud. He never quit hoping or fighting. We have that same spirit within us. We’ve had no choice, because the alternative is more knees on our necks and guns in our faces.
I’d like to leave you with this in closing: changes in perspective and hard conversations need to happen in order for us to progress. Both of these won’t come by avoiding the elephant in the room—pretend it’s not there and you get trampled. Our streets are evidence of this in recent weeks. I truly, truly believe that 12 Years a Slave will stir something within you. It could be anger. It could manifest as sadness or disappointment. It might even (hopefully, prayers up) awaken you to the pain of a people. Whatever those emotions may be, I say let yourself feel them. You won’t be in a theater. You’ll be in the comfort of your own home or another familiar place. If it gets too tough (and it will) take a break. Don’t fast forward or skip. Gather yourself. Discuss it with your viewing partner. Analyze it. Work through it. Use the film as a tool toward better understanding and empathy.
My hope is that you leave your viewing experience a little beat up and worse for wear, but also energized and ready to take action—even if that’s simply getting another person to watch. The scars of slavery are evident in the Black community down to our inner psyche and the marrow of our bones. There are reminders everywhere—the monuments to leaders who believed they had the right to own us; the confederate banner they fought under; police brutality; malicious legislation; predatory loans and debt; defunded education; mass incarceration; the people afraid to sit next to you at the movies; even the disparity between elite athletes and ownership—all of it is born from the desire to maintain a 401-year-old status quo.
Let’s not make it 402 years.Post Views: 990
By Parker Johnson — 2 years ago
The year is 2053. The Disney Wars continue to engulf the nation as the Mouseketeer Army advances from their home base on the Anaheim System. Both the Warner Bros. and the Universal Systems have fallen, causing the Netflix and Apple Systems to form a Resistance Alliance. In a last ditch effort to boost morale, the Alliance sent two undercover agents to Galaxy’s Edge in order to procure a rare asset to the Disney Empire to hold hostage: the theatrical releases of the original Star Wars trilogy.
The spies were successful in stealing the asset and hiding the films, but were ultimately captured before they could escape and get them to the Alliance. Held beneath Smuggler’s Run, the spies are interrogated about the location of the rare films and forced to watch reimaginings of their childhood classics in an attempt to have them psychologically broken. Having grown up watching both the prequel and the sequel trilogies, the spies are confident that nothing can break their resolve. That is until The Empire puts on a TV special from 1978…
The two spies looked at each other nervously as the guard wheeled in a very old brown TV with a VHS player on a wheeled tray. The elder spy leaned over and whispered, “What are they gonna show us now? That looks like something my great-grandfather used when he was in elementary school!”
The other shook his head, “They wouldn’t be showing us the original Special Edition, would they? We lived through those AND The Last Jedi. There’s nothing more that they could show us that we haven’t already suffered through.”
“So you may think,” said a sharp voice smugly behind them.
The two men whipped their necks around to see the tall figure striding into the room. The spies allowed a small smirk to play across their faces for an instant. If their shenanigans aroused the ire of the Captain of the Lucasfilm Division himself, they must’ve done something right.
The Captain smirked back as he walked around them to the TV, shaking a VHS tape in front of their faces. “You see gentlemen, what you have stolen is quite valuable. We were planning on releasing those films in a higher definition format as an…heh hemmm…reward for those who lay down their arms and surrender. However, because of your antics, the Alliance has deprived the citizens of something they’ve been wanting for over fifty years. As we cannot allow this and nothing we have shown you seems to have no effect on you, I’m afraid we must subject you to our last resort.”
“Last resort?” The older man scoffed. “On a VHS? What could you possibly…”
The Captain laughed as the spy’s eyes went wide in shock as the realization hit him. “Ah, it’s nice to see the older generation still remembers it. Who told you about it? Your grandfather?”
The spy didn’t answer the Captain, but turned to his companion in a panic. “Don’t look at it, Roderik! Just close your eyes and don’t look!”
The Captain barked out an amused laugh and rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I am prepared to make a deal, since you two seem determined to defy us. You watch this tape, and I will give you the choice to reveal the location of the original trilogy. If you do, you are free to go with no consequences, provided that the films are still where you say they are. If you refuse, you will be allowed to keep the original trilogy, but we will release this film in high definition to counter it.”
Roderik frowned. “How is that a threat? What could you possibly show us that will persuade us to give up our most valuable hostage?” He grew more angry. “Do you take me for a weakling? I lived through the High Republic trilogy—through Rey Palpatine! What could possibly be so horrifying that it would sway us from our goal?”
The Captain smiled cruelly as he inserted the tape into the VHS player. “Why don’t you watch and see?”
The old grainy footage opened to reveal a familiar scene, Han Solo and Chewbacca speeding away from the Empire in the Millenium Falcon. Han promises Chewy that he will be home in time for Life Day...
Roderik frowned. “I don’t know what this is.”
The older spy groaned and hung his head. “I don’t think I can bear watching this again.” The Captain slapped the back of the man’s head. “If you want to go free, you will watch all of it.”
The older man reluctantly lifted his eyes back to the screen as the title credits rolled: The Star Wars Holiday Special.
As images of the cast flashed across the screen, Roderik leaned over to the other man and whispered, “John, why does Mark Hamill look so… weird?”
“Just keep watching,” John muttered.
The scene now shows the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk as Chewbacca’s family appears to get ready for Life Day. They groan and moan in the Wookie language to each other over…and over…and over again.
Twelve minutes later…
“How long does this go on,” Roderik cried, struggling against his restraints. “No subtitles for this? I can’t take it anymore!”
“Calm yourself, man,” Roderick hissed. “It’s only going to get far, far worse.”
Lumpy, Chewbacca’s son, turns on a holographic display of what seems to be acrobats. After this, the family tries to contact Luke Skywalker who is fixing his X-Wing.
“What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with Luke’s face?!” Roderik shouted. “It looks like he has twelve pounds of stage makeup on! And don’t get me started about that haircut!”
“You will be silent,” the Captain growled, cutting the younger man off.
For the next hour, the Alliance spies were subjected to a variety of different clips that aggravated Roderik further, and caused John to slip into a deep despair—from an alien cooking show, tech support , a rock music video, an actually semi-decent Boba Fett cartoon, and another musical number. What nearly drove Roderik over the edge, though, was the erotic music video that Chewbacca’s father found great pleasure in watching near the middle of the special.
“I can’t take it anymore,” he yelled at the Captain. “What the hell is this? Who signed off on this? This isn’t Star Wars!’
“Rod, shut up,” John snapped. “There’s only an hour left. One hour and we are free to go. Remember why we are here!”
Holding back his sobs, Roderik nodded and continued to watch.
Nearing the end of the special, the Chewbacca family reunite with Han, Luke, and Leia as they gather around the Tree of Life; Leia sings a song about Life Day as they all hold glowing orbs. The dead look in Harrison Ford’s face as the film ended is the same look that reflected in Roderik’s own face.
“So, now you have a choice,” the Captain declared. “Do you tell us the location of the stolen films, or do we release the Holiday Special? The choice is up to you, Roderik.”
John’s eyes flickered back to full alertness at this new development. “Why only him?”
The Captain grinned. “Because you are the last of the older generation that understands just how many changes were made to the franchise. His generation does not. If he wants the pure, unadulterated films as they were originally, he should have the knowledge of everything that came out in those days, not just the ones you older folks seem to worship. So, what will it be? The responsibility is yours.”
“Rod, think about it! For the first time in history, we can have the original films legally! No unnecessary CGI! No dubbing over Boba Fett and Darth Vader! You can see Darth Vader’s original Force Ghost…”
He was cut off by the Captain raising his hand to silence him. “Your choice, Roderik. Make it quickly.”
After a long pause, Roderik sighed. “We hid the tapes in a room under the Pirates of the Carribean ride when we were trying to escape.”
He looked over at his companion. “I’m sorry, John. No one should ever have to suffer through this. The changes are bad, yes. But it’s all we know. This will totally destroy their perspective.”
“A wise choice,” the Captain sneered. “Guards, let them go and retrieve those tapes.”
Two guards stepped forward and began dragging them away, not noticing the look of triumph in John’s eyes. The third guard looked at the Captain curiously. “Sir, how did you know that showing them the tape would break them?”
He chuckled, “We’re part of the Disney Empire. Ruining childhood memories is what we do.”
The guard started laughing but then suddenly stopped, his eyes growing wide as something Roderik said stood out to him.
The Captain glared at him. “What is it man?”
“They said they hid the tapes in Pirates of the Caribbean. Fantasy Land is quite a distance from here sir. Why run there?”
“They were running?” he scoffed. “Who knows their logic?”
“Sir, they said they hid them in a room underneath the ride. No one is supposed to know about that room.”
The Captain stopped, his normally calm demeanor shattering as terror filled his eyes. “No… You think the tapes were a decoy? But that means…” As if his fears could hear his thoughts, a message blared over the speakers of the ride:
“ATTENTION, IMPERIALS. THIS IS THE ALLIANCE. WE HAVE WALT DISNEY’S CRYOGENIC CHAMBER. YOU HAVE LOST.”
The Star Wars Holiday Special is every franchise at its lowest. It attempts to cash in on its popularity without providing the effort to connect it to what makes the franchise so beloved among fans. With only half-hearted cameos from the original cast that look like they’d rather be anywhere else and guest stars performing dated sketches that range from weird to seriously uncomfortable, this TV special is a stain on the Star Wars legacy that even George Lucas is ashamed of. What they should have done is have Lumpy watch an hour-long cartoon about Han Solo and Boba Fett. The cartoon segment was the only unironically enjoyable segment, and could have provided some interesting segway into The Empire Strikes Back. Instead, we are left with an uncomfortably bad TV special that is so reviled that it can only be found on YouTube in a very low resolution quality. The one spot of hope in this monstrosity is that no matter what Lucasfilm comes up with next, it will never sink lower than this. Although the above story is a humorous work of fiction, it would not surprise me if this Special was used as a torture device somewhere. It’s that bad. If you’re brave enough to venture into these depths, the entire video is posted below. May the force be with you!
Recommendation: SKIP ITPost Views: 512