Behind the Scenes

Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall

Whenever I read the portions of “Storm of Swords” where Jon is tromping around Beyond The Wall, it always feels ridiculous because George R.R. Martin‘s descriptions make it seem like every living thing should be frozen up there. I mean, seriously. Is there really a place where it’s unbearably icy yet human beings manage to move around and build a life? Apparently there is, and apparently it’s Iceland. Go figure. Unfortunately, there’s only about 5 hours of sunlight, so it makes shooting there a little difficult, but according to this Game of Thrones behind the scenes video (via Wired), Iceland is the perfect, “other-worldly” place to stand in for the cruel cold that lies north of The Wall:

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IntroBehindScenes

It seems very rare that a behind-the-scenes documentary will earnestly try to show how the movie is made over trying to sensationalize the process. After all, who exactly is the demographic watching these things? Is it people who are genuinely interested in learning the techniques, or is it casual fans of a particular movie peeking behind the curtain? A good documentary caters to both – but above all should be honest in how the film was made. I’d like to explore some of the most earnest examples that I’ve come across. Either as stand alone films or DVD extras – these are documentaries that show, for better or for worse, the good and the bad aspects of the movie making process. This is stuff that no film goon should miss.

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Video: The Dark Knight Rises: Bane’s football explosion As you may know, The Dark Knight Rises is hitting home disc formats on December 3rd. It’s almost like there’s a major purchasing season in the works, and maybe the team at Legendary read Robert Fure’s rant about special editions and bonus features because they’re showing off the stuff you get if you go Blu-ray and go home with Batman’s last adventure (until it’s rebooted next week). To wit, a tidy little behind-the-scenes look at how the team blew up a football field as Hines Ward ran in for a touchdown. Spoiler alert: they did it by blowing up a football field as Hines Ward ran in for a touchdown. Most fascinating is probably the design-level coordination it took to build small bunkers for actors to dive into while simulating their disappearance from the collapsing field. Of course, it’s great simply to get a glimpse into the mind of Christopher Nolan and visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin. Very cool stuff. [MSN]  

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? During his photo shoot for the cover of this month’s Details, Jake Gyllenhaal was let loose with a camera, using it to capture the boredom and the tedium that accompanies such a high profile shoot, along with plenty of shots of craft services and people bitching about each other. Oh, Hollywood! The short also plays as a nice companion piece to the single song that makes up its soundtrack – Aaron Embry’s “Moon on a Daylit Sky.” Yes, it’s pretty naval-gazey, but aren’t most photo shoots? What will it cost you? Only 4 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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The Hobbit

Many of us weren’t at Comic-Con this year, and many of us felt a range of emotions about it. Oddly enough, there were a lot of people in San Diego sharing that same exact range of emotions. For those who didn’t get to make the trip and sleep on a hotel floor just to wait on a grass lawn for 5 hours in order to see a few scraps of footage, we missed out on at least one amazing thing: work from The Hobbit lovingly displayed by Peter Jackson. But despair no longer! In his latest production blog (and, seriously, isn’t it amazing that he takes the time and energy to share the process so intimately with fans?), Jackson brings us all to San Diego with him and delivers the visual goods. That includes some behind-the-scenes greetings from a few soon-to-be-familiar faces. Check out the video for yourself:

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wolverine with claws extended

If you’re anxiously awaiting Wolverine, or if you just love hearing Australian accents, this video from News 7 has both. The production headed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) is currently filming in Kurnell, and  the local news caught some excellent looks at a WWII Japanese POW camp that looks very, very beeg. The character’s X-Men Origins entry was a giant mess, but after so much off-and-on development as well as hype surrounding the Christopher McQuarrie script that takes its cues from the seminal Frank Miller/Chris Claremont mini-series set in Japan, it’s just good to see filming underway. Plus, the set looks impressive. [JoBlo]

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Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

Focus Features has a new behind-the-scenes look at Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina adaptation that showcases the lavish potential of the movie’s look and the experimental bat pointed toward the left field bleachers of Russia. Wright’s track record is solid for both historical fiction and methods that are out of the ordinary, and it’s excellent to see the two blended here for a Tolstoy novel that’s seen the screen more than a few times already. The only strange thing about this featurette is how joyous and life-affirming it seems in the face of utterly bleak source material. Check it out for yourself, and see how Wright brought Russia onto a stage and filmed it.

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Culture Warrior

It’s difficult to think that something as definitive of modern-age movie-watching as DVD special features could become a thing of the past, but there are plausible scenarios in which that could happen. DVD and Blu-Ray sales have slowed in the past few years as viewers become more and more accustomed to streaming services as their go-to means of watching movies in the home. However, when viewers streams a film via Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or Hulu, more often than not, they receive the film itself and nothing else. The attraction for audiences who use streaming services is exclusively the film and the film alone, not the film in conjunction with other supplementary materials that immerse the viewer further into the creation of that film. The film – for the first time since the days of VHS – now speaks for itself. After DVDs first became popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, the value of the DVD could be determined (and often manipulated) by how much material the discs provided for outside the running time of the film. The appeal of buying a DVD of a particular film did not lie in owning the film itself, but having access to that film in connection to a web of information related to it. Documentaries, commentaries, and deleted scenes provided a DVD experience that felt definitive – these discs made available the notion that herein was everything to know and understand about a particular film. The Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy, […]

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Legolas Orlando Bloom

What’s striking about the newest production blog for The Hobbit is how many people it features – and even then, it’s probably 1% of the full crew. For anyone wondering what making a movie is really like, this is a nice primer (even if it’s staged). People living in a trailer village, shuffling paper from one office to the next, coordinating with the extensive costuming department. These are the tricks behind the magic. The dwarf noses are fake, but the fire is real. The video features Peter Jackson, many of the actors, and the badass taking over as Legolas while Orlando Bloom films the blog footage. It’s a cool tour through Stone Street Studios and the behind-the-scenes world of Gloin and Friends. Check it out for yourself:

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“In some cases however, the passage of time is a blessing…Time heals all wounds, makes us forget, or, allows us a chance to reflect. Three years is an abundance of time. A lot can happen in 36 months: wars have been fought and lost, relationships have blossomed and then been destroyed, children have been conceived, born, and taken their first steps. In the case of Mother’s Day, 3 years was the amount of time it took me to become disillusioned with the filmmaking process.” That’s director Darren Bousman revving the horror engine on a nightmare. It doesn’t involve a reverse bear trap or a team sent back for your organs, so it’s probably scarier. It’s the story of how a movie that Bousman made that simultaneously met his creative vision and received high praise from testing audiences went from a huge potential opening to a release last weekend that no one heard about. Bousman goes into deep detail, chronicling the journey of a movie that wrapped in 2009 and didn’t see the light of day until 2012. It’s a must-read piece for how candid Bousman is regarding a hell on the other side of development. Let’s call it Post-Production Hell. His segment on what watching a test audience react to his work is especially enlightening. Ultimately, the train of events looks something like this:

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Warners is hoping to start a beautiful friendship with movie fans by offering digital copies of classic scripts – complete with background information and scenes embedded amidst the dialogue and description. Their digital distribution arm has announced the “Inside The Script” program which makes available these beefed-up versions of the original screenplays for classics for iBookstore, Kindle and NOOK. In addition to the script, a veritable book of production history, production notes, storyboard, pictures, posters and behind-the-scenes pictures are all included in the ten-dollar download (or $9.99 if you’re a stickler for exactitude). Right now, the program includes work from Casablanca, North By Northwest, An American in Paris and Ben-Hur with plans to add more shortly. This seems like a treasure trove of movie geek goodness, but it’ll be interesting to see if fans will shell out ten bucks for the privilege. What’s most interesting here is that this is the kind of material normally relegated to coffee table books and historic tomes that could double as anchors. It’s a sign that the studio is interested in engaging on a digital level. Now to see if that intuition will translate to film distribution itself. Either way, this program is a spectacular idea that could give a lot of fans the chance to delve deeper into a part of the movies they love. I’ll take 3 Casablancas please. For more information, check out Inside The Script’s Facebook Page.  

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Joss Whedon‘s excellent action geek-out The Avengers hits US theaters this weekend after a storm of anticipation that’s lasted for four years and five movies. Marvel’s ultimate team is finally together, and the results are incredibly impressive. You can read my review here, but while you sit in your Captain America uniform, unwilling to remove it or bathe for the next week, gear up to new giddy levels of excitement with these behind-the-scenes videos. From a disoriented Robert Downey Jr. to Jeremy Renner in fight choreography practice to a running Scarlett Johansson to Mark Ruffalo blissfully posing with a nude mini-Hulk, there are some really fascinating bits here:

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We packed the truck that would travel to location in Palenque, Mexico a few days before we traveled via airplane. The set crew: Steve Wang, Matt Rose, Shane Mahan, Brian Simpson, Richard Landon and me. Stan Winston would be with us, supervising the set work, understanding that we would only be gone for two weeks. At least that is what our work visas indicated. Palenque, Mexico was not a location easily reached. It required one flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City, another to Villa Hermosa, and finally a long ride in a Volkswagen bus through miles of rough country until we reached our hotel that was, from what we were told, the best in the area. It sat in a large clearing, surrounded by trees; two wings of rooms branched out from a central building that housed a restaurant/bar. Later, we discovered that Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken over the entire upper conference room and had turned it into a gymnasium that was open to anyone on the crew. As we settled into our rooms we were told that there would be screening of the film the next day for the cast and crew. My understanding was that this was for the benefit of the new crew members to get a chance to catch up and understand the shots needed to complete the film. A screen and projectors were set up in Arnold’s gym.

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There are events that define one’s existence that go beyond being learning or growing experiences. They become scars. Battle scars. They may fade in time, but they don’t go away. They persist. The memories of the events may become blurry, but every now and then, you run your fingertips along the raised, healed wound and remember. It all comes back like a punch in the nose. I had been on movie sets before and believed that I had been trained. The snarky ADs , the disinterested teamsters, the hustling, the waiting, they were all nearly second-nature to me, especially with the close of my on-set involvement with Monster Squad. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was going to face. My first location experience. My first time out of the country. My first time working set on a big budget film. My first time supervising a team. Predator would be all of those things and it would change my life forever.

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After working with both Mark Shostrom and Sonny Burman on Evil Dead II, I had ended up back at Stan Winston’s studio. Stan and his permanent crew of John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, Tom Woodruff, Jr., and Richard Landon were back in the shop from England and Aliens, and had just completed the Robert Zemekis episode of Amazing Stories, “Go to the Head of the Class.” The next assignment was a mechanical boar for the Debra Winger/Theresa Russell vehicle Black Widow. No, you didn’t miss anything. The sequence was cut just as we finished the puppet. Alec Gillis returned to the studio in time for the next Amazing Stories episode “Miss Stardust” for which we created three intergalactic beauty contestants. Ironically, it was during the shooting at Universal Studios, that Stan told us what the next assignment was going to be: A cross between The Goonies and Ghostbusters entitled The Monster Squad. Okay, confession time here. I do like the original Universal films Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolfman; I’m not a huge fan of The Mummy. Yes, my brother and I saw all of the films and collected the Aurora model kits (so good) but my love of monsters truthfully was for giant monsters: King Kong, Godzilla, Ray Harryhausen pictures, dinosaurs – those were the monsters that really ignited my imagination. I was partial to The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but technically, this was a 50s monster and not a 30s monster like its cousins. So when Stan told us […]

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Yes, Martin Scorsese is planning a remake of 1974’s The Gambler with Departed screenwriter William Monahan (and trying hard to get Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role). Yes, the original’s writer James Toback isn’t happy that he wasn’t told about the project. Yes, he wrote a letter to Deadline saying so. But, with all due respect to Toback and the slight that was committed against him, the boring interpersonal drama of who didn’t call whom is nowhere near as fascinating as the rest of the story that he relates – namely, him selling a very personal script, finding the right lead, and the impact the film had. There are at least a half dozen times in his brief recounting that will draw either genuine laughter, or the kind that comes when no other response will do. His situation with getting his check signed at Paramount is outrageous, but it has this spark of what working in that world can sometimes be like. At any rate, it’s a compelling tale of Hollywood success and confusion that deserves to be read.

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I’m not usually interested in writing stories about photos. Most of the time, especially when you’re not dealing with a superhero film, there’s not much room for speculation or any sort of interesting commentary. With these behind the scenes pics for Warrior, not much can be said about them. However, I’ll take any chance I can get to discuss Gavin O’Connor‘s family drama, because it’s just that good. To make an easy comparison, it’s this year’s The Fighter. They are different films, but one big fact they both have in common? They’re genuine crowd-pleasers. Warrior never panders to please. It, mostly, features well-earned drama that wins you over. If you need to feel secure about yourself, make sure to checkout how flabby and out of shape Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton look here. God, I feel bad for these guys.

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Clash of the Titans

An intrepid spy from some exotic corner of the world took a ton snapshots of some giant wooden objects that are supposedly being used for Wrath of the Titans, the sequel, of course, to Clash of the Titans. There’s nothing to lose your mind about (unless you’re one of those people that goes ape-y over prop construction (and there’s nothing wrong with that)) as the photos mostly show an half-built ship, a bunch of barrels, and what appears to be a sunken wreck of something. It’s behind the scenes stuff from Tumba Abierta (entretenimiento fantastico!) which Aint It Cool managed to pick up on. Here are a few samples:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with stuntman legend Vic Armstrong (who brought to life Indiana Jones, Superman and James Bond). We also chat with camera operator/cinematographer Peter Simonite (Skateland, Tree of Life), and we dig deeper into the monster-making world of effects master Shannon Shea. Plus, Matt Razak from Flixist spars off with Mike Smith from Examiner.com for our Movie News Pop Quiz, and we all learn an important lesson. By that, I mean a lesson about re-imaginings, reboots and re-re-re-makes. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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First Image from Friday the 13th

Producer Brad Fuller has let out the first shot of the upcoming Friday the 13th flick. Sort of.

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