7 Things to Know About the Making of WandaVision
Explore WandaVision‘s meta look at the making of television, franchise crossovers, and setting up the future of Marvel Studio’s films and series.
The first of Marvel Studio’s Disney Plus original series has concluded, and what a start. Here are seven interesting facts from behind-the-scenes.
*Obviously, spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
1. Captured on One Camera System with Forty-Seven Different Lenses
WandaVision was shot on the ARRI ALEXA LF in 4K. To capture the look of the various decades, the production relied on both new cine lenses and plenty of vintage glass.
One of the things that I did very early on was say, “I’ve got to simplify this show somehow.” When you’re working on a production, it’s busy. You don’t want too many elements. I didn’t want a bunch of vintage cameras that were going to break down in the heat or the rain. It had to have a bulletproof and efficient system. I made the call to use one camera platform throughout.-Jess Hall via Film School Rejects
2. The First Episode Was Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience
Also revealed in the same interview, Hall talked about the challenge of filming the single-take first episode in front of an audience.
As if things weren’t complicated enough, now you’re doing a twenty-six-minute single-take in front of a live audience, effectively. I mean, yes, you get to down your lights while the set changes, but other than that, you’re running concurrently. It’s a live performance. Huge challenge.-Jess Hall via Film School Rejects
You can get a glimpse into the making of the series and see the live audience in Marvel Studio’s ASSEMBLED now streaming on Disney Plus.
3. Agatha Was Filmed All Along
“Agatha All Along” is a straight up bop. That song penetrates the mind and stays there forever. The catchy fake show title sequence was filmed throughout the series, usually at the end of each day, since all the characters were still on set in the appropriate costume.
It was shot over the series. We’d be on the set, say, for example, during the magic show [in Episode 2]. We weren’t going to go back to that set with that costume, so we had to capitalize on that time efficiency and execute that shot. It would generally be done at the end of shooting our other footage, and we’d be like, “Right, it’s the ‘Agatha All Along’ moment.”-Jess Hall via Film School Rejects
It was a combination of planning and storyboarding and figuring that out, but then wonderful things happening in the moment. I remember coming up with the idea two minutes before we did it, that she’d have a picnic on the lawn while she’s controlling Pietro, and Kathryn had so much fun eating grapes and drinking wine and controlling him. And, it was just incredibly surprising how people responded to the song, and to watch it climb the iTunes chart and to see Kathryn Hahn move ahead of Justin Bieber and The Weeknd.-Matt Shakman via Entertainment Weekly
4. “Agatha All Along” Was Written by the Couple Behind Frozen‘s “Let It Go” and Coco‘s “Remember Me”
WandaVision‘s director Matt Shakman actually went to college with Robert Lopez.
I have tapes of Bobby’s music from back in college that he would probably not want me to release. Maybe I will and I can pay for my retirement that way. [Laughs] But, we met a longtime ago and collaborated then. I adore him and his amazingly talented partner-in-crime, Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They’re an amazing team, and I was so grateful that they were willing to be roped into this fun experience.-Matt Shakman via Entertainment Weekly
Anderson-Lopez is credited for coming up with the lyrics after taking a shower. In an interview with Variety, her husband Robert says:
I think she was at our apartment. I was at the office, and by the time she got to the office, she had the sheet of paper that had the lyrics on it.-Robert Lopez via Variety
As for the different feel to each of the title themes, Lopez also credits Adult Swim’s Too Many Cooks as inspiration.
[It] was one of our favorite musical sketches to come out of the culture in the last several years. We thought, well, anything that’s thinking in that avant-garde a direction, we want to be a part of.-Robert Lopez via Variety
5. The Specific TV Shows Referenced Were Chosen Based on Family Dynamics
Each of the shows referenced in the 50s through 00s were specifically chosen because they were family sitcoms, and Wanda’s grief forces her to search for her missing family.
In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matt Shakman says,
We were looking at family sitcoms. There are a great many wonderful shows, like Taxi or The Office, that could’ve been inspirations, but the ones that we focused on were the ones that were about family because that’s obviously what Wanda yearns for. She loses her family when she’s young, she loses her brother, she loses Vision and the family that might have been. So, the family sitcoms were the strongest thematic connection to that.
So, we did look at Full House, we did look at Family Ties, we did look at Growing Pains. We looked at so many different shows, and I have some small nods in there. There’s an opening title sequence to Episode 5, where we do the crane shot from Full House, where they’re having the picnic, or we run through the park with them as a nod to Lizzie growing up just behind the camera on that show.-Matt Shakman via Entertainment Weekly
6. Make-up and VFX Artists Used Golden Age of Television Tricks to Nail the Black and White Look
Throughout production of the films featuring Vision, Paul Bettany would be painted red for shoots, with digital elements added in post.
In the early episodes of WandaVision, the character is only seen in black and white. The VFX artists went over to the colorists with footage from the previous films to test the look, and they realized that Vision’s skin color didn’t properly crossover into black and white.
To adjust and get the proper color, Bettany was painted blue for the first two episodes.
In black and white, the color looks as if it were red. This is a tried-and-true method from golden era television, when actresses would wear blue lipstick on set.
7. VFX Artists Studied the Effect of Magnets on CRT Televisions to Create the Look of The Hex
The Hex is invisible to the eye in the earliest episodes until it’s revealed that Wanda has created her own makeshift television studio out of the city of Westview.
To visualize this, VFX artists looked at television static, pixelation, and CRT screens to find the perfect look. The final look is a combination of different effects, with character interactions being inspired by the effect a magnet has on older CRT screens.
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Cover image via Disney+.