COZI ZUEHLSDORFF as Hazel Haskett in Alcon Entertainment’s family adventure “DOLPHIN TALE 2,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photos by Wilson Webb.

“Dolphin Tale 2”

September 12, 2014

In “Dolphin Tale 2,” a sequel to the 2011 film “Dolphin Tale,” the crew of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium returns to attend to its star resident, Winter, a rescued dolphin outfitted with a life-saving prosthetic tail.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith, the movie stars Harry Connick Jr. as aquarium founder Dr. Clay Haskett, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, as his daughter, Hazel, Nathan Gamble as Sawyer Nelson, and Ashley Judd as Lorraine Nelson.

After designing the original movie, Costume Designer Hope Hanafin also came back to the Clearwater Aquarium where the story picks up several years later. Winter’s surrogate mother, Panama, has died and Winter is now without the only poolmate she’s ever known. USDA regulations protect the social nature of dolphins by requiring that they cannot be housed alone. If a suitable companion can’t be found, the beloved Winter may be lost to another aquarium.

Hanafin not only had to provide continuity to the story, but also update it to reflect the changing tastes of the now-teenage stars. For Zuehlsdorff’s Hazel, Hanafin was sensitive to the movie’s family-friendly topic and its ocean-centric theme.

“Conceptually, I wanted to show how oceans link us all,” said Hanafin. Many of the colors reflect ocean blues and for Hazel, the warm, bright tones of the sunset. She also custom-designed much of the teen star’s clothing, not just to capture the right nuance of character.

“So much of teen clothing is sexualized and we did not want to go down that path,” Hanafin said. “That influenced a lot of choices I made.” The clothes also were cut a little longer to cover the nude-tone wetsuits the crew wore to shoot the many water scenes filmed during the cooler months.

Unlike much of the cast, Hazel doesn’t wear the aquarium’s uniforms, instead she appears in a colorful wardrobe full of prints.

“Hazel’s clothes have an ethnic feel to them,” Hanafin said. “I wanted them to look like she didn’t shop in a mall; that she found things in street fairs or exotic shops. I wanted them to look as if she had embellished or made them herself.” To give the clothes an age-appropriate personality, Hanafin enlisted the aid of real teenagers to doodle on tennis shoes “like how a slightly bored 15-year-old would draw while listening to music.”

Two costumes illustrate Hanafin’s unique approach. For a party scene, Hazel wears a sun dress in sunset shades. “It’s a party dress, but also a sadder moment, so I didn’t want it to be fluffy or sparkly or sequiny or too over-the-top,” she said.

Hanafin bought a vivid red cotton sari from a Los Angeles specialty shop and cut it into two sun dresses (in a movie with water and dolphin rescues, multiples are de rigueur).

In a second scene, Hazel wears a red T-shirt with a feathery skirt that Hanafin designed.

“I had an image on my board with this brightly colored bird,” she said. “The skirt is kind of ruffly, with layers of raw-edge tiers, so when she was jumping up and down on the roof it would flutter–and it would look like she had a sense of freedom, that she was moving on and happy where she was.

“The scene was shot across a big causeway and it had to be bright so that she could be seen,” Hanafin said. The materials themselves have a rich backstory.

“The fabrics in the skirt are bits and pieces I have from my work in Kenya and South Africa,” she said. Some date from the 1994 movie, “The Air Up There,” which was shot in Africa.

Hanafin, who is married to Dr. Robert Zuber, a human rights and environmental organizer, travels globally with him.

“When we travel, I bring home fabric. And I collect it–I can’t resist ethnic fabric. Some people collect shoes. I collect ethnic fabric.”

“Dolphin Tale 2” opens today in theaters.

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