0
Posted February 3, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film Annie (2014)


About Annie

About the Film

Director, writer and producer Will Gluck says that in approaching a new vision for Annie – the classic show that won seven Tony Awards on Broadway and went on to become a heartfelt movie classic for 1980s kids who are now parents themselves – he was excited by the chance to work on a film that captures the magic of family. “When we were filming, my daughter was the exact same age as Annie – 10 years old,” he says. “I wanted to be a part of a movie that I could share with my family. I wanted to be part of a movie that would make everybody happy. This is a movie that puts a smile on your face at the beginning and keeps it there all day.”

Working with a classic is no easy task, but it’s one that Gluck, along with the producers, approached with equal parts respect and excitement. “Annie has never gone out of style,” Gluck says. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding family – which is the only thing that any of us want. Annie thinks that if she finds her parents, that’s what ‘family’ means and she’ll be happy. On the other side of that coin, you have Will Stacks, who doesn’t believe that he needs family – he believes he’s fulfilled by work and money. So these two people are going on parallel paths, thinking they know the path to happiness. They realize that their happiness is not what they thought it was – it’s actually in each other.”

Gluck says that’s a story that would resonate in any generation. “That’s why the songs and story still entertain as much as ever. We had a chance to make a great version of it that would appeal to today’s kids and their parents.”

In their vision for the film, Gluck and the producers wanted to put an updated, contemporary spin on the classic Broadway classic. Rather than set the film in the 1930s, “Annie” is set in the present day and the heroine is a 2014 kid in every possible way. For starters, Annie is a foster kid, not an orphan. She rides bikes through the city, knowing all the best routes to get through traffic. “This little girl is savvy,” says Caleeb Pinkett. “She understands the way the world works, because she’s street smart. She had to learn that way in order to survive.”

Leading the way, as Annie, is Quvenzhane Wallis, who not only set a record as the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award and was recognized as an indelible and precocious talent for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, but stole hearts on the red carpet with her infectious smile and her puppy purses. “She’s amazing,” says Gluck. “She’s such a real, authentic actor that every time she says these lines or sings, your heart just breaks for this ten-year-old girl who’s speaking from the heart. We were very specific when we wanted to do this movie that we didn’t want a child actor who could be on Broadway; we wanted someone who felt real. We lucked out in Quvenzhane in that she can sing, she can act, she’s a joy to be around, but most of all, your heart just comes into your throat every time she plays a real emotion. That’s a once-in-a-generation skill.”

“I loved playing Annie,” says Wallis. “She has spunk and does everything with a smile, no matter what life throws at her.”

As for the man who takes Annie in… he’s no longer a Depression-era industrialist who got rich through war bucks – instead, he’s Will Stacks, the head of a cell phone company. “Stacks is worth $4.7 billion,” Gluck explains. “He’s created the largest cellular network in the world. But all he cares about is work, work, work. And as he’s running for mayor, that’s all New Yorkers see about him. He’s desperate to make a connection to the voters, so he takes Annie in as part of this cynical PR ploy – but the last thing he expected is to make a connection to one person in particular who can’t even vote for him, because she’s only 10 years old.”

So the filmmakers have put a thoroughly contemporary spin on these characters – and in so doing, they cast the roles with bright, all-star company of actors, including Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz. “Working with people like Jamie and Cameron and Bobby and Rose is just one more way that we made the movie feel like it’s happening right now,” says Gluck. “Of course, the most important thing to us was their incredible comedy chops and their ability to connect emotionally, but the fact that, collectively, the cast reflects where we are today – that was a huge part of the way we wanted the movie to look.”

That contemporary feeling extended throughout the production, as Gluck and his team concentrated on the settings and the fashion to give the film a distinct feeling of today. Annie has always been a New York story, and at the direction of Will Gluck, the film shot on location in New York City. “It’s part of Will Gluck’s plan,” says Caleeb Pinkett. “He said, ‘If the movie is going to be authentic, we can’t shoot it on the stage. We’ve got to be in the streets.”

Wardrobe, too, has received a contemporary facelift – costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus has given Annie and her co-stars some thoroughly modern threads.

And, of course, that contemporary feeling extends to the iconic songs as well, including “Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Maybe,” and many others. The music is overseen by veteran executive music producer Greg Kurstin, with the superstar Sia updating the classic songs.

Much of the work in updating the songs comes in the arrangements and the choice of instruments. “The original versions were arranged with more traditional stage instruments – woodwinds, brass, strings, a small ensemble,” Kurstin explains. “Instead of that, I’ve added real drums, bass, guitars, modern keyboards – treating it like I would a pop song of today.” Kurstin would play many of the instruments himself, in his studio, bringing in drummers, or brass, or strings as necessary. For one song, he even called in a marching band.

In addition, Annie features three new songs – “Who Am I?,” “Opportunity,” and “The City’s Yours” – that the music team worked to blend seamlessly in with the iconic songs and score. “The new songs are just some of the best, well-written songs I’ve ever had to work with,” executive music supervisor Matt Sullivan says. “They’re really fantastic.”

“Sia blew it out of the water,” adds Cameron Diaz, who plays Miss Hannigan, Annie’s foster mother. “There are so many amazing songs, new and old, and we were still singing them when we went home at the end of each day. The music is so much fun.”

 

About The Characters

Annie

Who’s that girl who moves with the rhythm of a busy NYC? Who’s the foster kid who sees the good in everybody – even her foster mom, the queen of mean, Miss Hannigan? Who Hearts New York – and finds out that New York Hearts her right back? Just one kid – it’s Annie!

Taking on the lead role as Annie is Quvenzhane Wallis, the remarkable new talent who starred in Beasts of the Southern Wild, becoming the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Wallis’ acclaimed performance caught the attention of the Annie filmmakers.

“What is cool about Annie is that she teaches the adults what matters in life,” says Wallis of the plucky heroine. “I think all kids feel like we have something to teach grownups.”

Wallis says she’s a fan of the original movie. “It’s my favorite,” she says. “I like to sing and dance along with it. So I love that I got to sing and dance in the movie for real this time.”

“Annie is very kind and serious, and worries about the other girls – she makes sure they’re okay,” says Wallis. “She just has a dream of finding her parents. That’s the number one thing on her list. Miss Hannigan is always in her way, but she also has the other four girls by her side.”

Of course, Wallis formed a special bond with those four other girls. “I felt like I had four sisters on the set,” she says. “They were so fun – I made such good friends. And also Cameron Diaz – she’s so nice in real life. Miss Hannigan is supposed to be mean, but not Cameron!”

Will Stacks

Will Stacks never thought he needed anybody – and if you ask him why, he’ll point to his 4.7 billion reasons in the bank. But everybody needs somebody, and when Stacks takes in Annie, he’ll find out exactly what that means.

“It’s a beautiful story,” says Jamie Foxx, who plays Stacks. “Annie comes into in his life when he’s just trying to use her as another rung up the ladder of success, but he finds out there’s something inside her that he can’t deny. Her love opens him up – that’s a great emotion to be able to play on film.”

Foxx says that by updating his character, he becomes more relatable to contemporary audiences. “Stacks has spent all of his time building his phone company – his business doesn’t allow him to be a regular person,” says Foxx. “He forgets about a personal life. And then, running for mayor, it’s even more extreme. Playing it that way gives us something we can identify with, in today’s terms.”

Foxx was excited to be a part of a film that he can share with his family. “This film really captures what it’s like to have a parent’s love for a child,” he says. “The emotion of the movie is real and honest. My six-year-old daughter was on the set and had a ball. I can’t wait for her to see it.”

Miss Hannigan

Most foster moms are kind and devoted people working hard to help a kid who needs a hand. And then there’s Miss Hannigan. For this onetime woulda-coulda-shoulda-been pop star, being a foster mom isn’t about giving back – it’s about taking all you can get (like a stipend from the state for the kids’ care). With five kids sharing one room, Hannigan will do anything to keep that gravy train going.

In creating a new version of Miss Hannigan, Diaz welcomed the opportunity to portray a classic character while also breaking new ground. “I grew up with Annie, and I love Carol Burnett’s performance as Miss Hannigan,” she says. “When it was announced that I was playing the character, I got people of all ages, all walks of life, coming up to me, ‘I hear you’re playing Hannigan – I love Hannigan, she’s my favorite character!’ Everybody knows this character. In this movie, I had a chance to play a role that people are familiar with, but she’s been brought into present day in such a fun and contemporary way. So I jumped right on board – it was an amazing opportunity to sing and dance in a film.”

Diaz adds, “Miss Hannigan is a wonderful, delicious role to play. You get to be this over-the-top villain while also making kids laugh because you’re more ridiculous than scary. Miss Hannigan is like the Wicked Stepmother or Captain Hook – even tiny kids get it: you want to see the hero kid beat the bad guy grownup. So many great comediennes have played this part, and I am proud to be a part of Hannigan’s lineage.”

In this telling of Annie, Miss Hannigan has a unique history. “She had a failed attempt at being a pop star 20 years ago, and has never gotten over not being famous,” Diaz explains. “She thinks that if she were famous, she would be happy. But, in fact, she really needs to learn to love herself.”

Which is to say that Hannigan has some very misplaced blame for the reason she’s not happy. “She’s at the bottom of her barrel – she really thinks these girls are in her life to punish her, somehow. Still, she’s not a bad person at heart – she’s just really lost her way.” As a result, when the wannabe celebrity finds one of those girls taken in by a true celebrity and becomes a media sensation herself, Hannigan takes it as a personal affront.

Grace

Grace, Stacks’ trusted VP, is the power executive who keeps Stacks Mobile up and running and never dropping a call – but she’s still got a soft spot for the foster kid who suddenly enters her boss’s life.

The role is played by Rose Byrne, who grew up loving Annie. “Annie is a fairy tale in so many ways,” says the Australian actress. “I used to play it at primary school, in the playground – I always wanted to be Annie because I had curly hair. I have vivid memories¡¦ these characters – Miss Hannigan and Grace, the role I play – are firmly embedded in my mind as a child.”

Though the filmmakers have given Grace a promotion – once “Daddy” Warbucks’ assistant, she’s now Will Stacks’ most trusted VP – her soft spot for Annie remains intact. Like the other characters in the film, she is searching for something that she didn’t know was missing – and that something is a family. “Grace is highly intelligent and devoted to Will and to the company,” Byrne says, “but she’s also a little bit lonely. She becomes a sort of a fairy godmother to Annie – meeting Annie I think really opens her up and inspires and delights her, and brings out a whole other side to her.”

“For both Will and Grace, Annie brings a fun dynamic into their relationship,” Byrne continues. “She brings possibility, life, energy, vitality. I think they were a little bit asleep before they met Annie.”

Guy

Guy is Stacks’ shrewd and scheming campaign advisor. If you want to win your race, Guy’s your guy. But in his book, the end always justifies the means – and there’s no trick too dirty to make it happen.

Emmy-winning actor Bobby Cannavale takes the role. “He prides himself on having a perfect record – which he does by any means necessary,” says Cannavale. “In this case, he’ll do anything to make Will Stacks seem more human and connect with voters – including coming up with the idea to take in this little girl. Which they do, and it works – and then, he doesn’t need Annie anymore.”

A political operative who puts winning above serving the people? In 2014? Shocking. “I was able to have a lot of fun with the character, because I could draw on a lot of real people for this guy,” he says. “You don’t have to go very far onto the Internet or newspaper – you just turn on CSPAN and you see guys like this. I think people are now so familiar not only with politicians, but the people who work behind the scenes – Guy just thrills in getting people to the top, and what that does for his ego and self-esteem. He does a lot of bad things to make himself feel good.”

Sandy The Dog

Meet Sandy – the best friend a kid could ever ask for. She’s not just a pretty face – she’ll be there in thick and thin.

From the comic strip to Broadway to the movies, Annie’s constant companion throughout her adventures has been her big, shaggy dog Sandy. To cast such an important role, producer/co-writer/director Will Gluck turned to William Berloni, the animal trainer who has found and trained all the dogs that have appeared as Sandy on Broadway.

“I was fortunate enough to be involved with ‘Annie’ from the very first production on Broadway, in 1977,” Berloni says. “I trained the original Sandy, and have trained all the Sandys for all the major productions ever since. So I’m really happy to finally be working on a major motion picture.”

“I think one of the things we love about Annie is that she loves everybody – even an orphaned dog she runs into on the street,” Berloni continues. Like the other Sandys that Berloni cast and trained for Broadway, this Sandy was to be true to character: she would be a rescue dog.

However, Berloni’s search for Annie’s Sandy in shelters throughout the New York area had an added challenge for the trainer: Gluck had asked Berloni to find a dog that didn’t look anything like the previous Sandys.

Berloni’s hunt for a new Sandy culminated in May, 2013, when he found Marti, a beautiful tan-colored mutt who had been in an Armonk, New York shelter. Most likely a golden retriever/chow mix, Marti was smaller than previous Sandys, with a smoother coat. It was both her unique look and her winning personality that got her cast in the role of Annie’s best friend. Naming the dog after Martin Charnin, who, Berloni says, gave the trainer his start in show business, Berloni would train Marti for three months to portray Sandy.

“She’s got very bright eyes,” describes Berloni. “She’s always smiling. She loves children, and is a wonderfully sweet dog, very smart.” Berloni trained Marti for about six weeks prior to filming, acclimatizing her to the sights and sounds of a film set, and taught her to perform on cue.

Marti may have been the most popular actor on set with the kids. “The relationship between Quvenzhane and Marti was almost instantaneous,” Berloni says. Wallis, who has dogs of her own, was inseparable from Marti for the three months they were together on the set.

“She’s very loveable and huggable and she’s just so cute,” the young actress gushes about her canine co-star. When the dog first came in for her audition with Wallis, the two immediately hit it off – even as the dog tried to eat Wallis’ book. “She tried to flip the page over with her tongue. It was very crazy!”

 

About The Production

Production designer Marcia Hinds worked closely with Will Gluck, a Manhattan native, to find the film’s locations. “Annie is an iconic story that’s been told before – our approach is a contemporary one, with New York as its backdrop. It was important to Will and to all of us to give it a more realistic tone and look,” says Hinds, who also designed Gluck’s previous films Easy A and Friends with Benefits.

From Harlem to Washington Heights to the Upper West Side, from the Guggenheim Museum on 5th Avenue to the modernistic buildings of John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Tenth Avenue, the filmmakers took advantage of everything New York had to offer. Annie sings “Tomorrow” on a lively strip of Lexington Avenue, between 115th and 117th Streets in East Harlem, while the East Side Community School on East 12th Street downtown filled in for Annie’s Harlem school. Tribeca’s Cortlandt Alley provided the location for Annie first meeting her dog, Sandy, while the Wall Street heliport was the taking off point for Stacks’ helicopter, and Greenwich Village’s Cafe Cluny on West 12th Street filled in for Domani, an Italian restaurant where Annie hopes her parents will return.

However, perhaps the film’s most spectacular location was 4 World Trade Center, a state-of-the-art skyscraper where the production filmed the interiors of Stacks’ luxurious penthouse apartment. Hinds and her team had searched far and wide for just the right home – open and modern, with spectacular views – that would befit the billionaire cell phone mogul Will Stacks. “Will Stacks had to live on the top of the world,” Hinds explains.

It’s hard enough to find such a place if you actually want to live there – imagine trying to find one that can support a major motion picture. But then, opportunity knocked. “Just on a fluke, somebody said, ‘Well, 4 World Trade Center’s not open yet,’ and we asked to see it,” she remembers. “Then once we saw it, we had to get in there. The Locations department worked and worked and worked, and the building allowed us in. They had their grand opening two weeks after we finished.”

In Lower Manhattan, 4 World Trade Center was still under construction when Annie filmed there; all equipment had to be loaded in with a construction hoist on the exterior of the building. “We’d bring our hardhats with Annie across the top on the elevator ride, and all the construction workers would break out into ‘It’s the Hard-Knock Life,'” Hinds laughs.

The 72-story edifice, designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, offered floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of One World Trade, the tallest building in New York, and the rest of the Manhattan skyline visible in every direction. Stacks’ magnificent apartment was built from scratch in the building’s raw space, and Gluck, Hinds, and cinematographer Michael Grady also made the most of 4 World Trade Center’s distinctive terrace on the 57th floor, which filled in for Stacks’ personal outdoor terrace.

Right across the Hudson River from 4 World Trade Center, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, the filmmakers shot the film’s climax, as Stacks, in his helicopter, comes to Annie’s rescue. A real helicopter was also used not only for exterior shots, but for several scenes that take place inside the Stacks corporate helicopter with Annie and Stacks. “It was Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, me and the camera person up in the helicopter for four hours,” Will Gluck remembers. “It’s all real, no green screen.”

 

About The Music

Annie’s songs became legendary almost as soon as the show premiered on the New York stage. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without songs like “Tomorrow,” “Maybe,” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” – songs everyone knows by heart. But in fact, those songs, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, debuted fewer than 40 years ago.

Still, the songs were written then for a different spin on Annie – a period take, and a traditional Broadway staging. With the new film set in 2014, the music needed to feel like it belonged in 2014. With that in mind, Will Gluck teamed up with the experts – the Australian superstar Sia, and Greg Kurstin, who has produced and co-written many songs with Sia and many other award-winning artists. Gluck and Sia would rework and update the lyrics of some of the songs; Sia and Kurstin would reimagine the music for modern ears; and Kurstin, who served as the film’s Executive Music Producer, would arrange and produce the tracks, playing many of the instruments himself. Overseeing the music as it was integrated into the film was Executive Music Supervisor Matt Sullivan.

“I love Annie,” says Sia, who also has a cameo in the film. “I grew up watching it hundreds and hundreds of times as a kid.”

“We’ve kind of flipped the songs on their heads, and made them contemporary,” says Sullivan, a veteran music supervisor who joined the Annie team. “There’s a mix of all genres of music in it.”

“I love the ‘Annie’ music,” says Kurstin. “Of course, I saw the show when I was growing up. And I have a jazz background – I used to play all the old standards – so I appreciate the songs and the compositions. But I do a lot of pop production now, and I don’t really get to work on songs like these.”

A veteran producer of pop songs, Kurstin is also a recording artist in his own right; with singer Inara George, he has recorded three albums as The Bird and The Bee. In 2010, they recorded the album “Reinterpreting the Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates,” on which Kurstin created new arrangements of the AM radio favorites of his childhood. It’s an experience he drew upon for his work on Annie. “These are songs that I grew up hearing, whether it’s Hall and Oates or Annie,” he explains. “For me, there’s something very exciting about the chance to do a contemporary version of these classic songs. I like to look at these songs, at the production, and to see how we can bring these into the future so they sit side-by-side with today’s music. I think these Annie songs are great pop songs, and if you take them out of the typical Broadway treatment and treat them like modern day pop songs, maybe more people could hear them for what they are. They’re just great songs.”

In collaborating with Sia, Kurstin says that the process usually begins in the studio, with Kurstin at the piano and Sia singing. “I’ll play a few chords, Sia will pick out a chord she likes, she’ll say, ‘Let’s go with that,’ and she’ll start singing a melody. From there, it’s very quick – it’ll be me on the piano, we’ll hash out the chords and the basic melody, and from that point on I’m building the track and Sia will be working on the lyrics with Will, and that’s how it happens. We work very quickly together – Sia is the fastest writer I know. She doesn’t really analyze; a melody just comes out, very organically, and she goes with the first melody that comes out. It’s really fun to work with Sia in that way; we can come up with ideas without getting too technical. There might be some tweaks here and there, and they ended up doing a lot of tweaking on the lyrics, but the initial music and melody usually comes out very quickly.”

In fact, Kurstin says, it’s that speed that may have inspired Gluck to give Kurstin the job of updating the music. “Will saw the way we work for the first time when we worked on ‘Little Girls,'” he remembers. “He seemed excited by that process – witnessing me and Sia coming up with this idea very quickly. I think he got excited by the potential of what could be done.”

Gluck was very involved with the music – not only tweaking lyrics with Sia, but directing Kurstin on the sound he wanted to hear. “Will wanted to keep it very raw – not too slick or polished, not too orchestral, slick, or cinematic,” he says. “He wanted to have an edge to the music; he wanted the beats to be a little gritty.”

“It was hard,” says Sia. “‘Little Girls’ in particular was difficult to deconstruct, because I’m such a fan of the original version. I didn’t want to do anything blasphemous. But in giving the songs these anthemic pop choruses, I thought it came out really cool. I hope we did okay.”

In addition to the reimagining of the classic songs, three all-new songs are woven seamlessly into the classic score. One, “Who Am I,” is written by Sia, Kurstin, Thomas Edward Percy Hull and Gluck, and produced by Kurstin. “‘Who Am I?'” was the same process,” says Kurstin. “Sia brought in the seed of an idea for that one. We hashed it out together in the same way, me sitting at the piano, working on the music, and Sia singing on top of that. We agreed on an arrangement, a melody, and once we had that she started coming up with lyric ideas as I’m adding the bass and the guitar and the strings and the drums, and within an hour or so, we had a song recorded.”

Another new song is “Opportunity,” written by Sia, Kurstin, and Gluck, with Kurstin producing, a standout number sung by Annie with a full orchestra behind her at a black tie event at the Guggenheim Museum. This song came out of the script. “We wanted to create a song that would be happening at an event, where Annie would be singing in front of an orchestra,” says Kurstin. “It is probably the most traditional ‘Annie’ arrangement, because it’s completely orchestral – it’s the only song in the movie that’s like that. She’s singing, and it’s a spontaneous song that comes out of her in front of this orchestra.”

“The City’s Yours,” written by Sia with the songwriter-producers Stargate and Benny Blanco, comes as Will Stacks sings to Annie while flying above Manhattan in a helicopter. “It lets her know that no matter where you come from, you still got an opportunity to make it,” says Jamie Foxx, who stars as Stacks. “The words are, ‘This is just the start of your story, If you got guts, you got glory, Anyone can make their dreams come true.’ Those are words that we could all live by.”

Both before and during filming, Matt Sullivan worked very closely with the actors, many of whom, like Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, and Bobby Cannavale, were not necessarily known as singers. Wallis, for example, who was nine years old when she first started taking voice lessons for Annie, had only sung at home or in the car with her family before landing the lead role of the musical comedy.

The musical talents of Jamie Foxx, on the other hand, were already well known. Foxx has recorded several chart-topping albums and has an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ray Charles in another musical film, Ray.

“It’s crazy how good he is,” Will Gluck says about Jamie Foxx’s talents as a singer. “He added so much in the recording sessions to put his own stamp on all his songs because he knows what he’s doing.”

 

About The Choreography

Noted choreographer Zach Woodlee, whose talents for creating naturalistic and innovative dances with non-dancing actors were illustrated with his work on the immensely popular television show Glee, also joined the Annie team.

Woodlee scouted potential filming locations with the filmmakers prior to designing Annie’s dance numbers. “It was Zach Woodlee, the choreographer, who would find out where the song’s going to take place, why the song is happening, and choreograph it in a way that it felt real and organic to the situation,” director Will Gluck says.

“This film is staged in a much more natural way than the 1982 film or the stage play,” adds Rose Byrne. “It’s really contemporary, so my song and dance numbers have been far more loose and playful.”

Like much of the cast, Quvenzhane Wallis did not have experience as a professional dancer. However, Woodlee credits the actress with a natural ability. “She has musicality and rhythm,” Woodlee explains. “As long as you have those sorts of things, you tailor things to what works in her body.”

Assistant choreographer Brittany Parks started working with Wallis a few months before filming began. “I worked with her two hours every other day, and we just did dance numbers,” Parks says. “We danced to Beyonce and Michael Jackson, and we just danced around and got to know each other. Fun stuff like that.”

One of the film’s most ambitious numbers is “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” a song sung by Annie and her foster girlfriends when Miss Hannigan wakes them early one morning and orders them to clean the apartment. “They’re forced to get up at 6:30 in the morning and clean the house, but because they’re kind of soaking off of Annie’s optimism, they make a game of it,” says Will Gluck. “They’re not just singing for singing’s sake; they actually have fun as they clean, as kids all do.”

Still, the sequence was not without its challenges. “‘It’s the Hard-Knock Life’ was tough to complete, because when you get a bunch of kids together to start singing and throwing plates at each other, it’s not pretty,” Woodlee laughs.

Woodlee remembers the months of rehearsing “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” with the girls. “One day it’s plates, one day it’s Swiffers – it’s great. I felt like I was training some sort of circus group,” he says. “If you went to our dance studio, you’d see literally a wall of mops and brooms and plates and dishes and forks and pots and pans.”

Gluck’s “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” furthermore, is distinguished by its new beat. “It’s very ‘Stomp’-esque, with the books and the buckets,” says the director, referring to the Off-Broadway percussion show. “It’s a really fun number that takes place inside and outside the apartment.”

In fact, the foster girls were so enthusiastic about their work on the film that they even rehearsed together during their free time. One night after work, the group performed “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” in their pajamas in their hotel rooms. “No one asked them to do it, and they just rehearsed it and rehearsed it by themselves, and sent a video to Zachary Woodlee, showing what they had done,” Gluck remembers.

During five months of rehearsals, the group of foster girls became a very cohesive unit, becoming close friends, as well. “We had a lot of rehearsing, but it was also fun because I love dancing,” Wallis says. “It was one of my things that I really, really loved to do with the girls and with the choreographers.”

“It was really fun to be with Quvenzhane – she was totally elated while we were singing and dancing,” adds Byrne, who performs the number “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” with Wallis. The sequence, during which Byrne’s Grace Farrell gives Annie a tour of her new home at Stacks’ swank downtown apartment, was filmed on location at 4 World Trade Center, both inside and outdoors, on the building’s stunning terrace in the sky.

Cameron Diaz and Bobby Cannavale also got in on the act, with their pas de deux, “Easy Street.” “Guy finds out that Annie’s been looking for her parents, and he sees an opportunity there and enlists the help of Miss Hannigan,” Cannavale explains. “She starts flirting with him and he sees somebody who’s easy to manipulate, so he comes up with this idea that they should find a couple of actors to pose as Annie’s parents. But it takes some convincing, so he takes her out to a nightclub and he starts to convince her through this song. They come together in this dance, and boy, it’s some dance.”

Cannavale and Diaz rehearsed the dance for three months, on and off: immediately prior to starring in Annie, Cameron Diaz was in Boston, working on another film, so dance rehearsals were worked around her schedule. Cannavale, choreographer Zachary Woodlee and assistant choreographer Brittany Parks traveled from New York to rehearse with the actress. “She’d finished a 12-hour day on another film, and then we hit it,” says Cannavale.

Cannavale enjoyed working with Woodlee. “Zach’s got a lot of experience teaching actors who haven’t danced before, and he utilizes what you have, what you bring naturally,” Cannavale says. “I don’t know what it is that I bring. Enthusiasm?”

“Zach and Brittany were amazing, and I can’t honestly believe that this was the first time Bobby’s ever danced with a partner,” says Cameron Diaz. “He’s such a great lead. It’s a very physical dance and he has to throw me around a lot – and since he’s throwing me, he has to catch me as well. And I had total faith that he would catch me every time. He was phenomenal.”

 

About The Costumes … And The Red Dress

Since she first appeared in comic strips over 80 years ago, Annie has worn the red dress with the white collar. However iconic the image is, it’s simply not a dress that today’s 11-year-old street-smart New Yorker would be caught dead in. So, costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalfus, working with director Will Gluck, took a more realistic approach, dressing Quvenzhane Wallis’ Annie in the clothing that a contemporary kid in today’s New York City might wear.

“Annie doesn’t have much – all of her belongings fit into a backpack,” says Kalfus. “She’s a clever city kid who knows her way around. She expresses herself with the same cleverness in her clothes. She’s like a magpie; she’ll find something she likes, and sew it on a jacket.”

“When you have four or five foster kids together, everyone’s trying to claim their own style,” Kalfus continues. “Clothing is how they identify themselves as separate characters. To achieve this, they fight to make their own clothing personal.”

Kalfus avoided the color red in Annie’s wardrobe palette – until the film pays homage to that red dress at a very specific moment. Once Annie has become ensconced in Stacks’ home, he gives her the red dress to wear at a black tie event at the Guggenheim Museum. Kalfus designed that very special dress, in Annie’s iconic red, for the transitional moment, when Annie takes center stage and sings a new song, “Opportunity,” in front of an audience of well-heeled New Yorkers.

“I spent some time figuring out the best red and the best satin fabric that would be good on camera,” she says. “I feel I gave a nod to old Hollywood glamour and made a couture piece that a contemporary young girl might long for.” Kalfus’s design is classic, with a full knee-length skirt, a crinoline underskirt and a large satin bow at the left waist.

Annie-Poster