‘Fate: The Winx Saga’ Season 2 Set Visit | #entertainment | #news


Courtesy of Netflix/Khadija Horton

Editor’s note: This story contains spoilers for Fate: The Winx Saga season 2 including major storylines and the season finale.


It’s Halloween weekend in Ireland, and locals and tourists alike are savoring the fact that nightclubs and pubs are open again after a COVID lockdown. But that’s not why I’m here. After exploring the lavish green country for the first time, I quickly geared up to step foot on my first television set in more than a year. Because over in County Wicklow—a 40-minute drive from Dublin—is the set of Netflix’s Fate: The Winx Saga.

The Killruddery House doubles as the iconic fictional Alfea College, where only the best fairies and specialists from the Otherworld hone their skills. After signing several NDAs and hitching a ride to the big estate, I discover the cast and crew in the midst of their final week of filming the highly anticipated season 2.

girl getting hair touched up

Courtesy of Netflix

The beautiful Irish landscape features a pool of water where some very unlucky extras will later trip between scenes. Not far away stands Abigail Cowen, who plays Bloom, filming an emotional scene that involves TV magic you wouldn’t suspect…unless you were watching it firsthand, of course. (And yes, I’ll reveal all—be patient!) Soon enough, we are in the Alfea greenhouse, and the cast and crew are more than ready to dish about everything they’ve been working on.

Below you’ll find the best and buzziest intel from each individual department I spoke to as I explored Killruddery House. Little did any of us know it would take nearly a year for the rest of the world to learn what they were up to, but without further ado, here’s what the Fate: The Winx Saga set was really like IRL.


writing and creating

When on a set visit, the best person to corner first about the whole ~story~ in progress is the boss. And Fate creator Brian Young knows a thing or two about bringing a beloved story to life. After all, he spent seven seasons on The Vampire Diaries.

“I’ve worked on the fandom show before. It’s really exciting having a passionate fan base on a show like this. They’ve got a lot of opinions and a lot is stuff we were already planning on doing, which is always exciting to see,” he tells Cosmopolitan.

But even with a built-in fan base and a previous animated TV series that spanned eight seasons, this show is something totally different, even if it does share commonalities.

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“At a point you have to say, no these are the stories we *all* want to tell. Luckily, the source material is extensive, so there’s lots of stuff to always pull from,” he says. “I always go into things believing that having a rough idea of where you want to go is great, but then let the story organically form as you realize what characters are working and what characters are not working.”

From a writer and creator’s perspective, Brian notes, “This year has been so much easier,” thanks to the series already being cast.

“I love the girls so much. In season 2, you can hear their voices and see them as you’re writing. Knowing when you give them stuff, they’re going to be able to knock it out of the park—sometimes in ways you didn’t expect—has been a super big joy.”

girl making fire ball

Courtesy of Netflix

girl with laser beam eyes

Courtesy of Netflix

And yes, Brian knows there are critics who make their dislike known, especially since the show is a YA series: a genre that’s frequently a lightning rod for commentary. But ever an optimist, he quickly points out it adds more of a challenge, and that’s not a bad thing.

“I think a lot of people go into YA shows assuming a sort of level of facileness of a world. But we’ve got not just our emotional stories, not just our love stories, not just our family stories but also fighting, magic, monsters,” he says. “In season 2, we were able to go into it with clear eyes in terms of how big the show is and make sure that we’re prepared to hit all of those beats and moments. Plus, it’s bigger this season.”


visual effects

When Brian says the show is “bigger” this season, he is not underselling it. And large-scale productions take time to film properly. Season 2 had almost a full year gap between filming—which wrapped in November 2021, when I was invited to set—and the premiere date today. Knowing that probably would have surprised me as I walked grounds, watching the last TV sequences play out in person, but it was hardly a shock to those working behind the scenes.

The benefit of a season 2 show is it gives you the ability to sort of expand the things that made season 1 great. We had more second-unit days, we had more VFX, more everything to be completely honest,” Brian tells me. “We were able to really make the VFX sing to make the show feel like it’s the best version of itself that it can be.”

The VFX came in handy in unexpected ways too. Remember that emotional scene with TV magic I mentioned earlier? The one featuring Abigail? It went down when she acted her heart out during Bloom’s big goodbye with Farah Dowling (played by Eve Best) in episode 6, but if you had to dry your eyes while seeing it play out on Netflix, you certainly missed the behind-the-scenes twist.

The secret? As I stood there on-set, Abigail emoted alongside a body double, Farah’s lines only coming through over a massive speaker. Eve Best was not actually present, and a few weeks later, she filmed her own parts in London in front of a green screen. Why? COVID-related logistical hurdles, apparently.

bts of winx in the forest

Courtesy of Netflix

It was hardly the first time the VFX team had their work cut out for them with Fate: The Winx Saga season 2. “In COVID times, it is difficult to rally as many extras as you would normally be able to. So with some VFX help and some clever filming, we’re able to fill out our world,” says Visual Effects Supervisor David Houghton.

David was not part of the season 1 crew, so he relied on the scripts to shape the VFX in season 2. “There are monsters, there are locations and environments, there’s all the magical stuff as well. There are a lot of elements to take in and different types of visual effects to be broken down and worked out.”

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And—as revealed in the season 2 trailer—there’s an effects-related fan favorite returning in a big way: wings. While the big wing transformation sequence takes place in the middle of a battle in Alfea, the whole moment was actually filmed on green screen backdrops.

btw winx saga

Courtesy of Netflix

“Their wings aren’t just wings. Their kind of wings are made of various elemental forces, like water or light. They have to fly and then, at the end of it, they use their magical powers to blast the villain, who also has a magical effect all over his body,” David adds. “There were all those different elements in a scene that we had to shoot in 2 or 3 days on a set and then have green screen elements on top of that.”

With such a VFX-heavy show, the cost adds up…and David is okay revealing the bill: “Every visual effect shot costs around £310,000, depending on the complexity of it,” he tells Cosmo. Before you start googling the conversion, allow me to help: That’s about $360,000 per visual effect shot for us Americans.


costumes

Wings aren’t the only new look the Winx girls of Alfea will be sporting this season, and the costume department happily opened their closet for Cosmopolitan. While Fate: The Winx Saga focused on color coordination based on elements and the original Winx Club during season 1, costume designer Rebecca Hale took a different approach this time around.

“I didn’t really pay attention to the signature colors, because I wanted to look at the colors that I thought suited them,” she says.

In fact, instead of being color-coordinated, most of the cast’s outfits actually come from specific designers, vibes, and muses. Behold, a Fate: The Winx Saga sartorial cheat sheet:

  • Bloom: Chloé Jeans, Zadig&Voltaire, Penelope Chilvers, Belstaff
  • Stella: Bella Freud, Alessandra Rich, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Saks Potts, Needle & Thread
  • Aisha: Wolf & Badger, Acne Studios, Zara, ME+EM, Adidas, Nike
  • Terra: Carhartt
  • Musa: Twenty, The Ragged Priest
  • Flora: Free People
  • Beatrix: Alessandra Rich, Alexa Chung
  • Specialists: Belstaff

    Terra and Bloom’s outfits feature mostly made (or re-created) vintage-wear. True vintage often wasn’t an option because television costuming requires duplicates of each look. “I’ve been shopping much more online this year because I’ve had to be able to get five or six of something,” Rebecca confirms.

    bts of the winx saga

    Courtesy of Netflix

    Things were even more complicated due to COVID (of course), which made it harder to see things in person. About 50 percent of Rebecca’s original picks were not used after initial fittings. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how trends factor into show costuming.

    “By the time this show comes out, things might be out of fashion, so you have to sort of really think about that,” Rebecca says. “You’re not setting the fashion like Gossip Girl or Euphoria. This is different.”

    And yes, stuff goes missing from time to time. Whose fault is it? Even Rebecca isn’t sure. “The other weekend, we lost a couple things when we were doing a photo shoot, but it’s probably because I was in charge.” Don’t worry. We won’t tell Netflix.


    characters and filming

    It wouldn’t be a set visit without a talk with the Winx gals themselves. As you can imagine, it’s hard to speak about a show that isn’t even out yet with people who have only seen only a glimpse at filming. But even so, it’s obvious the stakes are higher than ever.

    “Everything is just kind of amped up. Through our costumes, our hair, our makeup, our characters feel more sure about themselves and are really coming into their own,” Abigail says. “New secrets are revealed, and it’s going to be really, really awesome. I’ve seen little clips, and it’s very cinematic. We’re really excited.”

    couple seated at dinner table

    Courtesy of Netflix

    couple standing in wooded area

    Courtesy of Netflix

    Precious Mustapha, who plays Aisha, says one of the bigger changes in season 2 is how much the characters interact with each other. “I feel like this season, in particular, everyone has their own story. We’re not always together, and I think that’s gonna be really exciting to watch because I’ve not seen some of the things others have done.”

    Musa (played by Elisha Applebaum) goes through an especially significant change. She loses her powers after getting attacked by Sebastian’s scrapers and becomes more of a “specialist,” which Elisha says required intense fight scenes.

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    “Some of the stunt-y scenes I’ve had to do have been a bit more challenging because they’re not things I’ve done before,” she says. “It’s definitely straining on the body. I’ve gone home and had an Epsom salt bath every single time I’ve done one, and then it’s off to the next.”

    One thing that may surprise fans is how common it is for multiple important scenes to shoot at the same exact time. The specialist fighting scene from episode 7 was shot at the same time as Farah’s goodbye scene from episode 6, and plenty of other moments were shot out of order.

    bts filing winx saga

    Courtesy of Netflix

    “We’ll sometimes have two different crews at the same time, so in one day you could film a scene from episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 just doting between two different crews. And that’s a testament to how brilliant the crew is on this,” Hannah van der Westhuysen, who plays Stella, says. “They’re just so on it. Thank god for them, because we’d just be all over the place. I think all of us have massive timelines up on our walls just to remember where everything is and what’s happening.”

    Another new change to season 2 is the show opening itself up to more representation with the highly anticipated addition of Flora, played by Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love star Paulina Chávez. After many fans called out the show for not having her originally in the series, the reveal came as a pleasant surprise. (Brian notes, “We were always planning on bringing her in season 2.”)

    winx saga

    COURTESY OF NETFLIX

    winx saga

    COURTESY OF NETFLIX

    “I remember when they actually announced it and there was a comment just like, ‘Guys, she’s Mexican. We won,’” Paulina recalls to me on-set, fighting back tears. “This is a big win for the Latino community. I’m in Ireland, what the hell?! Who would’ve thought this girl from El Paso would be here? It’s pretty cool.”

    Another win is Terra’s coming out storyline, which actress Eliot Salt describes as “such a joy, to get to play a queer character and also get to do it in ways that are so joyful.”

    “Like, obviously, there’s a lot of angst as well. But ultimately, she is accepted and it is something that is celebrated. It makes her character stronger and more confident and more herself,” she continues. “It just means the world to me, because I would’ve loved having that growing up, and now I did it.”


    the future

    Looking forward to the future of Fate: The Winx Saga beyond season 2 may ultimately involve fewer Irish landscapes as the finale’s new setting outside of Solaria takes precedence: The Realm of Darkness. But what that looks like and where they go from here depends largely on, well, you. The fans!

    “If people keep watching the show, we’ll keep making the show,” Brian says. “Over the course of the season, we started to expand the mythology and the world. By the end of season 2, we kind of blow the world wide open and find an entirely new location for us to play and visit.”

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    Unlike network shows, which typically return every year, Fate: The Winx Saga has more time between seasons. But with a show centered around a school, just how long can they keep going? If you’re a fan of the original Winx Club, you know the story can stretch beyond the walls of Alfea…but will Fate follow the same path?

    winx saga

    Jonathan Hession/NETFLIX © 2020

    “Alfea will always be our home,” Brian reassures me. “As we start to broaden the world out, it’s always going to be important that this remains our touchstone.”

    “There is a sort of limit where these characters will eventually age out. So finding a limit to this part of the story is important to me. If the show were to continue on, [we have to ask ourselves] how can we evolve this story in a new way while still feeling like there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to this story we started telling in season 1?”

    With season 2 now out in the world and this chapter of the Fate saga coming to an end, who knows what the future holds? Guess we’ll all just have to keep watching—whether from Ireland IRL or our couches at home—to find out.





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