Yellowjackets Season 2 Filled Wilderness With Snow All B.C

Production designer Margot Ready talks about how the show created a terrifying winter in Vancouver this summer.

Things are getting bleaker in “Yellowjackets” Season 2 — and not just because Jackie is dead. The arrival of winter marks a significant change in the story for the teens stranded in the wilderness, and in what season 2 production designer Margot Ready and her team have been given. Perhaps fittingly for a show about how humans come to terms (or not) with their animal instincts, one of the most complex challenges the production team had to tackle was one of the most natural elements imaginable: snow.

“I actually remember ironically reading an article about Season 2 before I was on the show (that said) they were shooting in Vancouver this summer and there was going to be a lot of snow. And I was like, Oh my God, how are they going to do this? Thanks to you guys, you know? Not knowing that I would be the one to do it,” Ready said.

More: ‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Cast Teases at SXSW: ‘You Should Be Worried’

The Vancouver summer wasn’t the only limiting factor. The 90s timeline cabin was used sparingly in Season 1, but quickly became a central location in Season 2. Originally a small cabin on site, production moved to a set with removable walls for better environmental control. However, the set needed to have enough snowy forest around it to hint at the greater wilderness and in line with Season 1 fieldwork. “You’re always effectively on the holodeck.” There’s a sort of photo backdrop around the stage,” Ready said. “It’s quite a challenge to build a forest that people have seen, (and then) make the trees look real on stage. So we try to match our forest, and then there’s the snowpack.”

Ready and his production team rose to the challenge by bringing as much nature to the stage as possible. “I’ve learned over the years that if you mix real stuff with fake stuff, your brain kind of buys it. We’re always looking for artificiality and patterns, and as much as we try to be real, when someone makes a foam tree or gets an artificial green, there’s an artificiality to it that you can tell. So we brought in (and designed) 30 percent real trees to hang from the ceiling. If you could have a real tree with real bark in every frame, your brain would accept the foam trees (around it) and not go to the Uncanny Valley because you see some realism there.”

Yellow jackets

“Yellow Jackets”


Layering was also crucial to how Ready and his team conquered the teenage survivors. There are many different types of fake snow and creating a naturalistic looking winter landscape was all about the right combination. “It took a lot of testing with different products: Krendal paper snow, which is very common but tends to look powdery. There is real fish ice, but it melts. There is dolomite, a ground stone product, but it has no luster and is more like sand. Finally, there is a more expensive gel product that can look like melting snow,” Ready said. “We had to layer and play with it and really study nature to get the right look.”

Still, Ready said, “We used so much Krendal snow that the entire province of British Columbia was gone. We had to order more from Alberta.”

Real trees and as much organic material as possible helped sell fakes. But one of the best artificial elements on set? The icicles. “Our sculptors created these amazing long icicles on top of the cabin porch by melting plastic and adding gel, then layering frost powder on top. Everything became an intuitive, two- or three-layer process, and I’m very grateful to the producers and the network for their commitment to getting it right,” said Ready.

Ready said the goal was at least not to look like a holiday movie. So the production team’s layering approach included adding debris to the snow, so the eye caught a dead bush, windblown twigs, or a moss-covered (foam) rock that broke the white line. But that included removing real snow at least once.

“The most painful day for us on the show was when a freak snowstorm hit Vancouver,” Ready said. “We shot two units on Monday, and over the weekend (before filming) we had to remove real snow from our current timeline location while adding fake snow to the previous timeline location.”

Teens Lottie, Shauna and Taissa stand in the snow outside the cabin in Yellowjackets Season 2.

“Yellow Jackets”


With that exception, Ready enjoyed incorporating the wilderness into the present-day story, especially in Lottie’s “wellness center,” where Natalie (Juliette Lewis) finds herself in the Season 2 premiere. “It always feels like (Lottie) is really tuning into something in the wild, and it’s like, ‘Is this really something malevolent, or is this just lonely and unstable and wild?’ What is he really attuned to, and where does that put him on the scale of good and bad? I think that’s what the show is playing with,” Ready said. “So Lottie and her companion were still, whether consciously or unconsciously, continuing the wilderness aesthetic.

For the bulk of Lottie’s building, Ready repurposed an old summer camp site and again played with different aesthetics—summer camp, a minimalist spa layout, and a touch of the antler queen—to make the space feel just that side of unsettling. One of Ready’s favorite features was the wellness sign advertising hilariously empty slogans. “We scattered ironic signs like ‘Breathe’, ‘Meditate’, ‘Just be.’ So there’s a scene where Natalie’s running and discovering that she’s trapped and where she is and she gets these tags here and there. That was the kind of fun we wanted to play.”

It also made intuitive sense for Lottie’s base to be an outdoor space, as well as an opportunity to create more dynamic interactions. “I really felt like we needed more open outdoor spaces for walking, talking and being central,” Ready said. “So we actually built the main stage that we see Lottie on, with the amphitheater around it, and pretended to be an old camp stove, and then a little vegetable garden and chicken coop, just to walk and talk and make an outdoor space. “

Ready’s production work also quietly points to the power Lottie wields. As Lottie moves through the camp, she keeps it firmly centered, the focus of everyone’s attention. “It’s like Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ All animals are created equal, but some are a little more equal than others,” Ready said. “He’s in this seemingly non-hierarchical cult, but he’s still the leader.”

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