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Category: Scene Stealer

Scene Stealer: 'Green Zone' piles on the cameras

March 18, 2010 | 12:00 am

Greenz
Paul Greengrass' films are known for kinetic action and lightning-quick editing, and his latest, the Iraq war thriller "Green Zone," is no exception. Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd shot the action sequences in long, continuous takes with multiple cameras that had staggered start times, so one camera would be filming while another was reloading. "This allowed the actors to inhabit their environments more fully," explained editor and co-producer Christopher Rouse, who had to then break the raw footage down into categories (coverage of a single character, for instance) before cutting the scenes together. Up to 20 minutes of action needed to be boiled down to a few minutes on-screen, with individual shots ranging from a few seconds to as little as six frames. "Like the actors, I try to inhabit the scene so that I'm making intuitive choices rather than purely cognitive ones," Rouse said.

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Related:

Scene Stealer: Stormy doings on 'Shutter Island'
Scene Stealer: Working with 'Frozen's' wolves
Scene Stealer: 'Wolfman' and the secrets of torture tech


Scene Stealer: Stormy doings on 'Shutter Island'

February 25, 2010 | 11:39 am

Shutter-scene1
Scene Stealer is a recurring Calendar feature looking at the tricks and techniques used by Hollywood's behind-the-scenes armies of makeup people, visual-effects folks, costumers, cinematographers and stunt coordinators. This week's installment takes a look behind the very stormy scenes of Martin Scorsese's box-office hit "Shutter Island." The film's federal marshals, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, had to contend with a hurricane while conducting their investigation at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, but the crew had its own hurricane problems.

Inclement weather is nothing new in the movies, but the raging hurricane needed for "Shutter Island" proved to be a challenge for special effects coordinator R. Bruce Steinheimer. "Shutter" cinematographer Robert Richardson "is known for his wide crane shots," Steinheimer said. But the wide crane shots in and around the film's location in Medfield, Mass., meant that Steinheimer couldn't rely on the usual rain bars -- there weren't any big enough. He had to bring in a 140-foot-wide light truss, like the kind used in rock concerts, and rig it with water hoses to douse the actors with more than half a million gallons of water. Nine-foot-high wind machines had to be trucked in from California. "These were the biggest in the States," Steinheimer said. One set got so drenched that crew members sank up to their calves in mud and the place began to smell. As Steinheimer puts it: "I imagine this was what World War I trench warfare was like."

--Patrick Kevin Day

"Shutter Island'" photo from Paramount Pictures

Related:

Scene Stealer: Working with 'Frozen's' wolves

Scene Stealer: 'Wolfman' and the secrets of torture tech


Scene Stealer: Working with 'Frozen's' wolves

February 11, 2010 | 12:29 pm

Frozen-wolf1 Scene Stealer is a recurring Calendar feature looking at the tricks and techniques used by Hollywood's behind-the-scenes armies of make-up people, visual-effects folks, costumers, cinematographers and stunt coordinators. This week's installment focuses on "Frozen,"  which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and opened in L.A. theaters last week. The lo-fi horror movie, which has been compared to "Paranormal Activity," features three friends  who become trapped on a ski lift after the mountain shuts down. 

The cast and crew of director Adam Green's thriller had to contend with the real-world forces of nature, but perhaps the most unpredictable were the wolves that actor Kevin Zegers had to confront for a pivotal scene early in the film.

“We put Kevin inside an electric fence with the wolves,” Green explained. “As long as the trainers were outside the fence with the food, the wolves would ignore the actor and go for the food.”

Unfortunately, the wolves had a habit of standing in the way of the actors when Green was trying to get a shot. “Finally, just as I got the shot, Shadow, the really scary all-black wolf, turned and went after Kevin,” Green said. “He slowly walked up and sniffed Kevin and started growling. I threw up in my mouth and swallowed it.”

Zegers, who had considered himself a natural with animals after his lead role in “Air Bud,” had enough. “He was buried to his waist in snow and he turned and said, ‘Get me out of here.’” The crew pulled him out immediately. Air Bud, it seems, is no match for a hungry wolf.

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo credit: Anchor Bay Films


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