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Scene Stealer: Stormy doings on 'Shutter Island'

February 25, 2010 | 11:39 am

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


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