The Story Behind The Story Of the Rabbit Smoking A Pipe Paddle
Back in 1997 when I was a full time artist I was hired on to the art department of the production of movie the The Edge. At the time, the movie was called Book Worm.
Mainly I was in the paint department. This includes sculpting. The paint department does touch ups on just about everything. This includes aging windows, doors, door knobs, steps….Everything that you see in a movie is probably brand new and then made to look old. That entire Lodge in the movie was built form scratch (carpentry department) and then painted and linseed oiled to look old. After the movie was done, they took the entire building (dock and all) down. You would never know that the lodge was once there.
I painted a lot of stuff! I also got to carve a lot of interesting things out of styrofoam. The log in the movie that Bart the bear knocks around is styrofoam. I made that! As well as a styrofoam rock wall that got moved around to hide stuff. And all of those totem poles, they too were styrofoam. Those were made by a sculptor from Vancouver. I helped a little on them, but not much. The were almost enterly carved by a hot wire, box cutter knife and a bread knife.
I was asked to carve the paddle because of my wood carving experience. I was given a copy of the script and that was it. I went to the Canmore Library and took some books out on native art and came up with a design. The original legend is a rabbit and a lynx. But the script writer David Mamet changed the lynx to a panther to make it more ominous. The original designs were kinda Haida Art looking. I thought that if this was suppose to be taking place in Alaska, then it would make sense it would look West Coast(ish). But I think the art director thought that they were too abstract and busy looking. So the design that you see in the movie is sort of Haida, but mostly not.
The carpentry department made two or three different kinds of paddles, and then the art director picked the shape he liked best. I then had to adjust the designs to fit the blade. I was asked to carve two paddles. One left to right and the other right to left, so that they could shoot the scene both ways and see what works best in the edit.
At the time of making these paddles, I didn’t have much time to do them, Also I don’t think the art director had much time for them either. Unlucky for Anthony Hopkins, But lucky for the art department…. Anthony Hopkins got pneumonia from the plane crash into the lake. And that bought us a bit more time. All the scenes at the lodge were the last scenes to be shot.
I didn’t paint the paddles that were used in the movie. I think they new that I would have had a hard time to make them look old and beat up. I still have a hard time making them look old when I do the reproductions.
I don’t know what happened to the two original paddles. I know that I gave the original drawing to a painter friend of mine that was working on the movie. I think he was the one who painted the paddle.
I think that movie was quite well written. Using a prop like that to set up the coming events. And then to follow it with the bear and the sandwich scene.
There are many good life’s lessons to be taken from that movie.