Student Run News Site of Venice High School

Building Sets For ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’

Art Teacher Christopher Wright Sets The Scene For A Beloved Christmas Movie

December 10, 2022

Art Teacher Christopher Wright worked as a sculptor, building sets for the 2000 film, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ He recalls his time and efforts on the project, which he worked on for a year. Wright also shares memories of his time working in the industry and where that led him. 

ZW: Did you enjoy the process? What was it like working on it for a year?

Wright: It was great to have steady employment for a year like that. So that was a really nice, long run of work. Because usually, you have to hustle jobs. It’s a drag. Sometimes you have weeks inbetween jobs. So it’s nice having a long run of work. It was tiring, although the guy who was in charge, the project manager, worked us 10-hour days instead of 12-hour days, so it was manageable.

ZW: What was it like working on one project for a year and did you enjoy it?

Wright: I did very much enjoy the process. It was very fun.

ZW: What developed from that into you becoming a teacher?

Wright: Well, my goal was to be a teacher anyway. And I got into all these different art jobs. But as that goes that that whole line of work started to disappear. They stopped using real sets and started doing more computer-generated sets. So they didn’t need us building an actual mountain anymore. They could do it on the computer.

ZW: What kinds of things did you build for the project? 

Wright: A lot of rocks. Rocks and we made a mountain. We made a cave. We made Whoville. We made some other props, but it was mostly those things, like the, the interior of his cave. And these are massive sets that were so huge. I mean, the cave filled one of the biggest sets there at Universal Studios, and so did the mountain for that matter. The mountain went from the basement to the very ceiling, so it was big sets, a lot of material.

ZW: What was it like being behind the scenes of what’s now a beloved holiday movie?

Wright: It’s kind of cool because people are all like ‘really you worked on it?’, but then it’s like you see the reality of movie magic you see what it really is, it’s all facade. It’s all just a veneer.

ZW: Did that opportunity open doors for you, did it introduce you to anything involved in the industry?

Wright: That whole business relies on word of mouth anyway, who you know, so it was like the people I met who introduced me to further work down the line. In fact, the guy I worked with closely on that job helped me to get this job here at Venice High School, because he knew the art teachers here. So when there was an opening, he introduced me to them, and I was able to scoop up this job very easily that way. 

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