Continuing this week’s celebration of all things Tinker Bell, I spoke to Ellen Jin Over, Art Director for the new DVD, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. I was really lucky that Tinker Bell historian Mindy Johnson was there, too. Don’t forget to enter my contest for the new Tinker Bell DVD and wings!
NM: Tell me what it is like to dress a fairy!
EJO: Dressing Tinker Bell is real exciting because that’s one of the major Disney characters, and to dress her in something else than what she was wearing is very exciting. They are fairies and their dwelling is Pixie Hollow, made of all natural stuff, so we begin with found objects made from nature, influenced by Victorian styles. She wears a green leaf dress. We wanted to continue that color scheme and nature, be inspired by nature, bring different texture of the leafs, different color variations, made out of flowers, leaf, and feather. Of course she is wearing leggings because it is fall, a shawl, boots with pom poms made of cotton ball.
NM: How do you suggest not just her environment but her personality?
EJO: Different fairies have a different personality. Silvermist is a really feminine personality and a water fairy; Irdidessa is really organized and she is also a light fairy, so depending on what their talents are, we give them some costumes that match. Silvermist will always have a long dress. And Tinker Bell, she’s really active, she’s really curious, very adventurous. Because in this movie she travels far out of Pixie Hollow into some other unknown land, we wanted to give her a really active, kind of sportly look. So she has a visor, a shawl for the cold weather, a pair of boots so she can run around and jump and hop and protect her little delicate feet. In this outfit she can do whatever she wants, climb up.
NM: It’s been about a hundred years since Tinker Bell first appeared — and she was just a little spot of light on stage in productions of “Peter Pan.” And then Disney was the first to personify her in the animated version of the story (which was also the first to have the title character played by a boy instead of a woman). How has Tink changed over the years?
Mindy Johnson (author of a forthcoming book about Tinker Bell): She did begin as a flash of light with James M. Barrie. He explored many different avenues on how to portray this character and she took the imagination of many including a very young Walt Disney as a boy, having seen the play as a child. She was always in the back of his mind as he built the animation studios and he had his version in development for 16 years, beginning before WWII, in the late 1930’s. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that it came back into development. The character was designed by a Disney artist named Mark Davis, a legendary animator, something of a ladies man — he worked on Cinderella, Snow White, and Princess Aurora. It was a challenge to portray a realistic, humanistic, character, especially because she was largely portrayed via pantomime. There were quite extensive explorations of her as redhead, brunette, a little powder puff, a whole variety of things which is the crux of this book I am working on about her history. But all of that is part of what left her so implanted in everyone’s mind as the embodiment of magic, and wonderment and fantasy and fun and a little mischief. There have been a number of things since the 1952 debut in the film. She was brought into the early television show to open each program. And now she has her own stories.
NM: How do you introduce her new evolved persona to the audience?
EJO: By giving her an adventure of her own. It was really the director’s choice to send her to a place where she was going to have a really great experience exploring this fantasy world. She was really given a great task, to make a fall scepter. It was such a great task that she wanted to be really good about it. But she made a mistake, the moonstone broke. She got the idea from the story-telling fairy that there is a far away place where you can find the moonstone so she decided to go on a trip. We see that she is not afraid to explore new territory to complete her responsibility. And boys like her, too, because she is not your typical princess, she is a tomboy and not afraid to do things, more of a character that could appeal to both audiences.