Setting has always been a living character in Wes Anderson’s films–from the school in Rushmore to the tree houses of Fantastic Mr. Fox–and his new movie, Moonrise Kingdom, out May 25, lives just as strongly inside its own world. “We were looking for a sort of naked wildlife,” he says.
Moonrise Kingdom is about two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away in the summer of 1965, and Anderson didn’t have the time to send scouts to every wilderness in America. So he did what everyone else does: “We literally used Google Earth,” he says. It took months to settle on a location.
That’s in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, which turned out to be the perfect spot to shoot the film–the coastline, ravines, and unusually adjacent forests and beaches provide every setting he needed. Except, his characters aren’t Narragansett Bay types.
That’s in northern New York, home of the sort of remote comforts Anderson wanted to imbue his fictional setting with. He sent set decorators and a coproducer there to scout it. “Then we actually borrowed and rented their paintings and furniture and things,” he says.
That’s Anderson’s fictional, sparsely inhabited island off the coast of New England–inspired by reality, but just off-kilter enough to take on its own life. “In the editing room, I am always surprised when I see dailies for the first time on any movie. I always think, This is not really what I expected,” he says. And that’s good.
Photo by Gareth McConnell/Eyevine/Redux
A version of this article appears in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company.