In the mid-1990s, movie audiences were being served a preppy, bubblegum world of teenagerdom, much thanks to the release of teen-flick favorite Clueless. This was a landscape filled with parties, expensive clothes, and love-sick high-schoolers chasing after one another.
Then, in 1996, something different came along. The Craft was released in May of that year and instantly bewitched audiences with its alternative depiction of what it’s like to be a teenage girl. Mini skirts, iced coffees, and woes involving daddy’s credit card were suddenly replaced with goth clothes, crucifixes, and spell books. Finally the fringes of the high school experience were getting their time in the spotlight.
More than just giving outsiders a platform to be seen though, The Craft put young women center stage and offered teenage audiences a shared experience of what it means to discover your inner power. The Craft was revolutionary in its depiction of female friendship and portrayed a dynamic of empowerment between these young women that would go on to inspire future generations of viewers. Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Sarah (Robin Tunney), Rochelle (Rachel True), and Bonnie (Neve Campbell) showed us all that it was okay to be different, and these differences are what make us special and powerful in our own right.
In celebration of this iconic film, we will be taking a behind-the-scenes look at some of the rather bizarre things that happened during the course of this film’s making.
With that in mind, here are 20 Wild Details Behind The Making Of The Craft.
20 A real witch was hired to help make the film
The Craft brilliantly portrays teenage girls connecting with the occult in a sensitive and meaningful way, and part of what makes this film so impactful is the fact that all the witchcraft featured in the movie is based on truth.
According to VICE, the production team hired a real Wicca consultant called Pat Devin, who is also awesomely known as High Priestess of Covenant of the Goddess, in order to ensure that the spells and incantations were realistic.
She even supposedly consulted with her Covens in order to ensure the chants in the film were all legit.
The fact that modern witchcraft was so accurately portrayed in the film gave viewers a sense that what they were watching was real, and gave teen girls an accurate look at what experimenting with witchcraft could be like.
19 Real snakes and bugs were used
All things considered, The Craft was not a big-budget movie. Because of the financial restrictions the film had, and because it was being made at a time when special effects were more expensive and hard to come by than they are now, many of the effects involving creepy crawlies were actually achieved using real creatures.
According to the film’s director Andrew Fleming in HuffPost, 10,000 snakes were used on set. There were huge buckets of serpents lying about, but luckily Robin Tunney, who had to deal with most of them, wasn’t afraid of snakes.
It’s a good thing too, as this is definitely not a film for a squeamish actress.
18 Creepy things happened during the ritual scenes
We often hear scary stories about weird things that happen behind the scenes on horror movie sets, but The Craft seemed to have its own collection of bizarre occurrences too.
According to an oral history of the film told by HuffPost, some pretty freaky stuff went down during the filming of several of the ritual scenes.
During the “Calling of the Corners” scene, when the girls have assembled on the beach to recite their incantation, the ocean waves kept putting out the fire they had made.
According to the director, Andrew Fleming, “it was just this odd thing where, when the girls started the incantations, the waves kind of came up. And at one point, a wave came and wiped the whole set out.”
This happened despite the park ranger having said the tide would not come in. Very weird indeed.
17 None of the girls were actually teenagers
Strangely enough, although the film is meant to be about teenage girls and is intended to be an empowering story for young female audiences, the four main actresses weren’t actually teens at the time they were shooting the movie.
When the movie came out in 1996, the main female protagonists were well and truly past their high school years. In fact, Rachel True, who played the character Rochelle, was 30 years old.
This certainly wasn't the first time older actors have been cast to play high school teens, but luckily, in this case, the young women chosen for the parts were convincing enough to play roles below their actual age.
16 Fairuza Balk is actually Wiccan in real life
One of the best things about The Craft is the fact that the witchcraft portrayed in the film is so accurate. Not only did the production team have real-life Wicca consultant Pat Devin working on the technical aspects of witchcraft in the movie, but actress Fairuza Balk, who played Nancy, was also a practicing Wiccan too, according to Richard Abanes’ book Religions of the Stars: What Hollywood Believes and How It Affects You.
Balk was so immersed in the word of witchcraft and the occult that she also ended up buying the pagan shop she had visited during her time researching her role as Nancy.
This store, called Panpipes Magickal Marketplace, is apparently the oldest store of its kind in the USA.
15 The film was slammed with an R rating
One of the weirdest and most frustrating things to happen with The Craft is the fact that despite it sticking to the guidelines required to receive a PG-13 film rating, the movie was still given an R rating.
It’s such a shame that a movie intended to empower and inspire teen girls was smacked down with a rating that would prevent younger audiences from being able to go watch it at the cinema.
When speaking to HuffPost, director Andrew Fleming said that even though they respected all the guidelines, the MPAA told him the film would be rated R, no matter what. Fleming suspects that this is due to the fact that the film involved girls and witchcraft, which he thinks the MPAA (wrongly) viewed as a dangerous influence for young viewers.
14 The story behind Manon
Although many of the occult details in the film are real, including some of the chants and incantations, one of the witchcraft-related figures in the film is made up.
Manon, the god the girls invoke, is a fictionalized deity.
When speaking to HuffPost, Andrew Fleming said: “The whole idea was to make up stuff because the god that they refer to in the movie is something that we made up -- because it might have been offensive to people if we had used people’s real gods. We created our own.”
One of the missions The Craft had was to stay as true to real life witchcraft as possible and not to offend anyone who followed this particular belief, so by making up the god, they were ensuring that no one would be upset or annoyed.
13 The crew were followed by a mysterious white owl while filming
As we’ve seen, there were some pretty bizarre things that happened while the filming of The Craft was happening. There clearly was an other-worldly vibe going on, and it almost seemed like the spirit world was being awoken while the movie was being shot.
Another one of the weird things to take place behind the scenes was that a white owl supposedly followed the cast and crew while they were working.
In an interview featured on Talent Develop, the producer, director and stars of the movie chatted about their experiences working on The Craft. Rachel True revealed: “There was definitely weird energy around, and we were followed around by a white owl to several different locations.”
Who knows what exactly this owl was doing, but it just adds to the mystery and magic of this cult-classic film.
12 How Rachel levitates
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board” has undoubtedly featured in countless sleepovers since The Craft came out, and it’s certainly understandable. Who wouldn’t want to try levitating through "magic"? Rachel True revealed the secret behind this famous scene when speaking to HuffPost.
A green screen was involved and she had to lie down in a hydraulic lift.
She opened up about the experience, saying: “I had some sort of metal thing that I laid in and they put my clothes around that, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, this thing is making my hips look three times wider than they are.’”
True might have been self-conscious about it while filming, but to viewers it looked like pure, beautiful magic.
11 Casting took nine months
The young actresses who played the main parts in The Craft performed their roles to perfection. The movie was trying to depict things that hadn’t ever really been shown in film or television before, so it definitely required actors who were up to a challenge and who were ready to stand out from the crowd.
Again, speaking to HuffPost, director Andrew Fleming revealed that it took nine months to find the perfect girls to play the parts.
Rachel True was the first to be cast, thanks to her “funny quality” and her beauty.
The rest of the girls were cast over the following months, and the end product is one of the best young female-led casts of the decade.
10 The girls were each given a witchy swag bag
We don’t really get to hear too often about swag bags that actors are given when they join a film set, but in the interview with the cast and crew on Talent Develop, we get a rare opportunity to hear about some of the gifts that were presented to the four main leads when they began filming The Craft.
Neve Campbell revealed in the interview: “When we started the films we each received in our trailers this bag that had candles and incense and witchcraft books.” Campbell says that she started using the bags’ contents and felt “witchy”, and when she listened to Pat Devin, the witchcraft consultant, she felt inspired.
We’re sure the girls loved their special mementos from The Craft, and we do wonder if they ever go back and consult their witchcraft books when they need that extra boost of power.
9 Robin Tunney had to wear a wig
Robin Tunney had already been acting for a number of years before joining the cast of The Craft, with notable roles in several TV series including Class of 96, Cutters, and Law & Order.
Her real breakout success came in 1995 though, a year before The Craft, when she starred as Debra in the hit teen-flick Empire Records.
Tunney played a character with a shaved head, so when she auditioned for the role of Sarah in The Craft, she still had her buzzed haircut.
Although the film’s costume designer Deborah Everton told HuffPost she really liked Tunney’s look, she was told that the studio wanted the actress to wear a wig for this new film. Tunney would have rocked a shaved head as Sarah, but clearly the execs had a different vision for her character.
8 The director wanted the girls to look like they were in The Cure
The fashion in The Craft is phenomenal. Not only was it the catalyst for some truly peak 90s looks for teenagers at the time the film came out, but it has continued to be a source of inspiration for fashionistas since then.
PVC black coats, white polo shirts, and rosaries were all a part of the carefully curated ensembles. Every alt-girl wanted to be a part of this wickedly dressed posse.
Speaking to HuffPost, the director revealed that he wanted the four main actresses to have a very gothic style: “That was my premise: What if those witchcraft girls in high school dressed like they were in The Cure? I just had this idea that they should have a punk element.”
Well witchcraft meets The Cure is certainly what we got. We’ve continued to look to these avant-garde fashionistas ever since.
7 Invocation of the Spirit is based on an actual occult book
In the film, Fairuza Balk’s character Nancy goes into a shop and reads from a book called Invocation of the Spirit. However, according to IMDB, the text she is reciting actually comes from a book written by Arthur Edward Waite called The Book of Ceremonial Magic.
Arthur Edward Waite was a well-known occultist who is also famed for being the co-creator of the widely-used Rider-Waite Tarot card deck. Although his book on Ceremonial Magic discusses the process of invoking spirits, this is not the sole focus of the book, despite the fact that the movie makes it seem that way. Clearly this is another realistic detail the production team slipped into the movie, basing the calling of gods and spirits on an actual text written by an expert.
6 The infamous snake scene at the end was tough to make
The Craft deftly uses a mixture of real effects as well as specially crafted ones in order to make some of the most extravagant scenes come to life.
No one can forget the infamous scene where Nancy undergoes a monstrous transformation, with bugs crawling out of her mouth, and her hair and fingers turning into serpents.
This shot was achieved thanks to a lengthy process, as explained to Complex. According to Fleming, this was the most complicated scene to shoot, with Nancy being “shot on the floor, and then snakes were shot individually, and then a very talented artist at Sony Imageworks put it all together.”
It took a lot of work for this shot to be pulled off effectively, but if you’re like us, then you probably remember this scene in awful, gory detail.
5 Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and more were almost cast
Part of the lasting magic of The Craft is down to the dynamite, powerhouse performances by Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True. These girls did an incredible job playing the occult-curious high-schoolers, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing their respective parts.
Well, according to Entertainment Weekly, there could have been a very different looking cast, had a few alternate decisions been made. According to Pam Dixon, the film’s casting director, Alicia Silverstone, Scarlett Johansson, and Angelina Jolie, were all tested for parts in the film.
Although we have a lot of love for all three of these sensational actresses, it just wouldn’t have been the same had we not had our fab witchy four that we got in the final film.
4 The Craft's effect on Charmed
Naturally, the success this film garnered inspired other films and TV shows to come up with similar narratives, thus the popularity of programs such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed.
Although no one could stop others from making their own witchcraft-inspired shows, one of them took their love of The Craft perhaps a step too far. If you’ve ever watched Charmed and you’re a fan of The Craft, you might have noticed something a little strange and a little bit too familiar.
The TV show used the same cover of The Smiths’ song “How Soon Is Now” by Love Spit Love, which had been recorded for The Craft.
Paying homage or copying? We’ll let you decide.
3 The studio wasn't sold on the idea of the movie at first
The Craft was a huge success with audiences when it came out and it has continued to bewitch viewers ever since. However, the studio executives weren’t entirely convinced about the film’s premise when it was first pitched to them back in the 1990s.
The Craft was being made at a time before young adult movies were really a thing, and the fact that it was about teenage girls was also quite unorthodox. However, according to HuffPost, it was one shot in particular that finally convinced the studio that this was a movie worth taking note of.
The shot of the four girls walking towards the camera, full of attitude and sass, finally woke the studio execs up.
Girl power was definitely something they could sell.
2 The girls' characters were based on real people
We’ve seen how many of the witchcraft-related details of the film were accurately portrayed thanks to a Wiccan consultant and an honest desire to be respectful towards those who believe in the occult. Well, another aspect of The Craft that adds some truth to it is the fact that all four of the main characters are not only based on girls the film’s screenplay writer Peter Filardi knew from childhood, but they’re also based on the four natural elements.
Speaking to HuffPost, Filardi said of the actresses: [They] were mixes and matches of girls I knew, but even more so, they were inspired and empowered by goddess archetypes and earth elements.” He added, “Sarah is earth. Bonnie, with the power of foresight, is wind. Rochelle, the diver, is water. Nancy, of course, is fire.”
1 The movie is a metaphor for female empowerment
There’s a reason so many young girls have been inspired by The Craft. Not only does it feature a strong narrative of female friendship, but it also depicts young women becoming empowered and being empowered by one another.
This film has continued to be hugely influential for teens across the globe, and shows how movies depicting the lived experiences of young women are necessary and important. The film’s producer, Doug Wick, told HuffPost how he saw the message of The Craft: “I was very aware that [witchcraft is an] age-old metaphor for talking about female empowerment.” At the core of the film is a story about teen girls finding themselves and discovering their inner power. Here’s to more films as strong and inspiring at this one.
Do you have any other trivia to share about The Craft? Let us know in the comments!