When The Shape of Water (2017) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017, the screening was held in the Elgin Theatre. The interior scenes of the theater in the film were shot in the Elgin Theatre, so as the audience was watching the film, they were seeing the same theater on-screen that they were sitting in.
Director Guillermo del Toro said about Sally Hawkins, "Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally, I wrote the movie for Michael [Shannon]... Sally is -- I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal."
Director Guillermo del Toro wrote lengthy backstories for each of the major characters, some of them reportedly running over forty pages long. After casting the roles, he offered them to the actors and said they could choose to utilize or ignore the backstories for their own character. The actors responded differently, with Richard Jenkins saying he ignored the backstory, stating, "The only thing that matters is what happens on screen," while Michael Stuhlbarg said he read the backstory voraciously and found it helpful in his performance.
The creature design is heavily inspired by the film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Michael Shannon's character says they picked it up in the Amazon river in South America, which is the setting of The Creature from the film.
A poem is quoted at the end of the film, "Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love, it humbles my heart, for you are everywhere." The source has proven difficult to identify precisely, presumably because it was adapted by Guillermo del Toro, who said he found it in a bookshop during filming. Some have attributed the poem to the Persian poet Rumi, but it is his predecessor Hakim Sanai who is acknowledged in the end credits. The lines have been found to be similar to a section of Sanai's Walled Garden of Truth as translated by Priya Hemenway.
Richard Jenkins was cast via an E-mail from Guillermo del Toro with the message, "I hope you love this [the script] as much as I do."
One day after completing her demanding underwater scenes for this film, Sally Hawkins flew to London to begin production on Paddington 2 (2017) - only to find out she would have to shoot underwater scenes for that film on the first day.
According to an interview with the National University of Mexico TV channel, Guillermo Del Toro said that if this film had flopped he would have retired from directing altogether. He stated as well that was also the case with Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and The Devil's Backbone (2001), due to the deep personal nature of these projects.
After seeing the trailer, Kevin Smith tweeted, "Seeing something as beautiful as this makes me feel stupid for ever calling myself a 'Director.'"
One of Octavia Spencer's favorite things about the screenplay was the fact that, by letting the main couple be mute, most of the dialogue comes from a black woman and a closeted gay man. In real life, they would both have experienced oppression during the 1960s setting of the film.
Guillermo del Toro's breathing was recorded as part of the Amphibian Man's vocalization.
The Shape of Water is the top grossing Best Picture Winner in five years, grossing over $194 million worldwide on a budget of approximately $19 million.
Director Guillermo del Toro first met Sally Hawkins at the 2014 Golden Globes and pitched the film to her while intoxicated. He says, "I was drunk and it's not a movie that makes you sound less drunk."
Most of the characters were written with the actors in mind. Octavia Spencer said her character was reminiscent of a collaboration between her roles in The Help (2011) and Hidden Figures (2016), and that she "would have played the desk if Guillermo del Toro had asked me to."
According to Danish DP Lausten, 95% of the film was shot in a studio. The limited exteriors required lots of rain, which had to be artificially created and warmed due to the chilly Canadian winter weather.
Doug Jones spent three hours every day getting into the costume. According to him, it was nothing compared to previous costumes he has worn in other films by Guillermo del Toro.
This is one of three movies nominated for the 2018 Best Picture Academy Award that feature Michael Stuhlbarg. The other two are Call Me by Your Name (2017) and The Post (2017).
The colour green is a recurring theme in the film's aesthetic, often in a highly luminous form. The filling of the pies in Giles' fridge, the green Jell-O that is mentioned on two separate occasions, the uniform that the cleaners wear, the candy that Strickland is seen eating as well as his 'Teal' Cadillac. There are also various other background props such as towels, curtains and hand-soaps in the bathroom at the facility.
Doug Jones based the physicality of The Creature on that of a matador, very much leading with the hips. In Dr. Hoffstetler's apartment, a statue of a matador is glimpsed briefly.
It took over nine months to arrive at the look of the creature, and director Guillermo del Toro calls it the most difficult movie he and his team have ever designed.
Sally Hawkins researched Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton and Audrey Hepburn for her part. Director Guillermo del Toro even bought her a Blu-ray collection featuring the performers prior to filming.
Esposito is a very common Italian surname that means "exposed" (Latin expositus, past participle of exponere "to place outside"), commonly denoting a foundling, left outside of an orphanage or a convent.
A novelized adaptation of the film, written by del Toro and Daniel Kraus, was released on February 27, 2018.
Doug Jones also played Abe in Hellboy (2004), another amphibious character which shared similar looks.
Michael Shannon was in a Chicago bar, Old Town Ale House, the moment the film won Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards. The bar's owner waited until after the ceremony was over to post a photo to Twitter of Shannon nonchalantly sitting at the bar alone with a pint of beer while watching the broadcast on the overhead TV set.
Is the first film to win both the Golden Lion (the top prize at the Venice Film Festival) and the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Director Guillermo del Toro originally wanted to shoot the film in black and white, but ultimately decided against it due to budget constraints.
Director Guillermo del Toro began working on the film in 2011. He self-financed a crew that designed both the creature and the lab.
Composer Alexandre Desplat provided the whistling featured in the soundtrack. Guillermo del Toro wanted the score to feature whistling because it contrasted how many scenes of the film feature water.
Octavia Spencer said she "would have walked the Earth" to work with director Guillermo del Toro. She was so taken with the set and the many props that she asked him how many she was allowed to keep.
The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the year. At the 90th Academy Awards, the film received a leading 13 nominations, and won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Production Design. It also won for Best Director and Best Original Score at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, on top of five other nominations. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received 12 nominations, including Best Film. Of those, it won two BAFTAs, for Production Design and Original Score, and Del Toro the David Lean Award for Direction.
Several of the wallpapers used by set decorator Shane Vieau are commercially available patterns. For example, in the the hall between Elisa's and Giles's apartments, the patterned strip of wallpaper running down both walls is the "Chicago Frieze" pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury (albeit aged and otherwise color-treated by the film's production designers), which was designed in the style of the famed turn-of-the-twentieth-century American architect Louis Sullivan. Likewise, the semicircular repeating pattern covering several of the walls in Elisa's apartment is also a Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper, this one titled "Eastlake." Its name and its fish scale-like appearance are both nods to the pervasive aquatic theme of this movie).
The background scenery for the dance segment between Elisa and the Amphibian Man is copied from a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie, Follow the Fleet. It is the final dance of the movie, choreographed to the song, Let's Face the Music and Dance.
French composer Alexandre Desplat's score was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at the famed Abbey Road studios.
Despite visual similarities, director Guillermo del Toro denied that this film has any connections to Hellboy (2004).
In one scene, Michael Shannon's character asks, "What am I doing interviewing the help?" while referencing Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer's characters. Octavia Spencer famously won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Help (2011).
The playwright Paul Zindel's family has filed a lawsuit for alleged plagiarism of his TV play, Let Me Hear You Whisper (1969). Del Toro denies these allegations claiming never to have seen the play.
Director Guillermo del Toro worked on this film for several years and developed it even before he began production on Pacific Rim (2013). Eventually, he chose to direct this film instead of Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018).
This project marked the first time director Guillermo del Toro had a female co-writer work on his script.
In one scene, Michael Shannon's character tells Octavia Spencer's character that God might look like her or himself. Octavia Spencer played God in the film The Shack (2017).
The vinyl records Elisa shows the creature are "The Great Benny Goodman" and "Glenn Miller Plays Selections from The Glenn Miller Story and Other Hits." Both were released in 1956.
The song featured in the first trailer is Serge Gainsbourg's "La Javanaise," sung by Madeleine Peyroux.
The only film of the year to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress Oscars.
The first film since Braveheart (1995) to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards without a nomination for The Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
This was the first English-language film to win the main award, The Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival, since Somewhere (2010).
The number plates of all the cars in the showroom are 1962, the year the movie is set.
This movie marks the second time Sally Hawkins is in a film where the bathroom is turned into an indoor pool by flooding of some kind, the first being Paddington (2014).
First Best Picture winner since The Artist (2011) to not receive an award for its screenplay. (The film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.)
With the release of Maudie (2016) the same year, this marked the first time Sally Hawkins was the lead in two theatrical releases within the same year. In both films, she portrayed a woman with a disability. In Maudie (2016), her character suffers from a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and in The Shape of Water (2017), her character is mute.
A series of photos depicting artist James Jean's progress on the poster artwork can be found on his Instagram page. On two such photographs, reference photos of the creature can be seen in the corner, presumably unreleased stills from the actual movie.
The film is set during a real-life war and features magical elements, a similar setting to director Guillermo del Toro's earlier film Pan's Labyrinth (2006).
This was the third collaboration between director Guillermo del Toro and composer Alexandre Desplat, but their first film with del Toro as director. The composer previously provided the music for the del Toro-produced animated movie Rise of the Guardians (2012), and he scored some of the del Toro-penned and produced animated series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia (2016).
When Giles drives his truck up to the underground security gate, the security guard on duty has his radio tuned to John F. Kennedy's 1962 speech to the nation, announcing the discovery that the Soviet Union is building nuclear missile sites in Cuba. This is actually an error in dates. According to Elisa's calendar, the events of the film take place between September 18 and October 9, 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis began October 16, 1962, when Kennedy was shown photos taken by a U-2 spy plane showing the missile sites in Cuba. Kennedy gave his address to the nation on October 22, 1962. See 'Goofs.'
This was the third collaboration between cinematographer Dan Laustsen and Guillermo del Toro. They previously worked on Mimic (1997) and Crimson Peak (2015).
The film was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered on August 31, 2017, and was awarded the Golden Lion for best film in the competition. It also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
Both Sally Hawkins and Michael Stuhlbarg also appeared in Blue Jasmine (2013), but they did not share any scenes.
Nick Searcy, who plays General Hoyt, was in another film Oscar-nominated for Best Picture the same year, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).
In the bathroom scene, when Richard Strickland wash his hands only before he pee, argues like Torrente, el brazo tonto de la ley (1998), the protagonist of the saga of director Santiago Segura a Guillermo del Toro's friend, as a tribute.
The outside of the card that Elisa shows to Amphibian Man says "Glad to Have You As a Friend." If you look really closely on the inside, it reads, "I love you"
The pie shop guy says "I'm from Ottawa." The film was primarily shot in Ontario (albeit not in Ottawa).
During the movie, cars keep passing by Three Billboards! - One of the other movies, competing for Best Picture, is Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri.