Dolph was on the stage playing the drums, we needed to make it
feel like he was playing in front of thousands of people"
was Dolph's approach for the preparation and what he wanted the
film to look like?
brainstormed a lot, we looked at a lot of movies together, we
spent a lot of time watching other films and saying where we
wanted to go. From a lighting perspective, we looked at some
Tony Scott's movies like MAN OF FIRE and we looked at
some Michael Bay films like THE ISLAND and TRANSFORMERS.
So that was the lightning approach because we wanted to have
a very commercial feel. Then from a camera and lensing perspective,
we looked at the BOURNE SUPREMACY. And THE BOURNE SUPREMACY,
which is the second film out of the BOURNE films, was
a major influence for us because it feels very realistic, it
has a very interesting kind of documentary approach to the photography.
That was a film that we studied quite a bit, and also western
films, particularly Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone films like
UNFORGIVEN, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and HIGH
PLAINS DRIFTER, the character. We looked at a lot of those
and we ended up coming up with a term which we used on the set
called a "Bourne western". We felt that's what we were
making: the film was like a western but almost in that BOURNE
style so we called it a "Bourne western" and that
was our short term reference to what we were doing and we understood
visually what that meant: a film that was lit like a commercial
film that was lensed like a Bourne film, and the camera had to
look at from a western point of view, like a Clint Eastwood film.
a quite complexed high concept film logistically with the concert
and the action, and without a huge budget, how did you approach
didn't have a lot of time to make the film, I think we only had
5 weeks so it was about 30-36 days shooting. What we decided
with Dolph that I'd seen at concerts that lightning wise, all
our lights could be incorporated into the set. Because it was
at a concert we spoke with Carlos [Da Silva] who was our production
designer, and him and I see if we could incorporate our light
into his designs. So movie lights become practical lights and
that allowed us to shoot with 360 degrees sets so we could shoot
very quickly, and shoot a lot of screen time, with three or four
cameras at one same time. Rather than lighting each close-ups
separately, I could light four or five close-ups at one time,
just by allowing our movie lights actually being visible in the
frame so we had our lights always in the frame, and they looked
like concert lights, so concert lights you could see at a concert
on stage, or fluorescent lights you might see in a hallway, or
death lights that you might see in the Kremlin. That was the
approach we went with to allow that to happen in that short period
you discuss music videos?
didn't really look at music videos because we wanted to sort
of steer away from that, even "American Idol"
we wanted to keep away from that, because we wanted the film
to have a documentary feel so we actually looked at some footage
from the 60s, like there's a concert by The Doors in England,
particularly interesting to us because the camera really felt
like it was there, and it was amazing to see The Doors playing
for so many people, and that was the feel we wanted. So when
Dolph was on the stage playing the drums, we needed to make it
look or feel like that he was playing in front of thousands and
thousands of people and I think that's the result we've got.
And even with Melissa, who was playing the Venus character in
the film, we didn't wan it t to have that music video or "American
idol" feel to it where you got with sweepy crane shots
and all that. The camera had to be hand-held, it had to be gritty,
it had to be part of the location itself. That's we went with
so we looked at Doors footage, even some Led Zeppelin stuff,
and recently stuff like Metalicca concerts, Guns 'N Roses concerts
from the late eighties: they were huge influences on the way
we shot the concert footage. Because we wanted that feel, that
when they're watching the film we wanted them to go "holy
shit, that's actually Dolph Lundgren, in front of thousands of
people, playing in front of them!" That was the feel that
we wanted, we didn't want it to look like a music video. Because
music videos tend to have that feeling like it's staged and that
wasn't the feel that we wanted, maybe for a different film but
not for this one.
don't want it to look fake especially since the film is a thriller
with a lot of tension going on...
right, that's exactly the look we were going for, I mean again
the reason the BOURNE SUPREMACY was a major influence
on us was because the film was so realistic, like it felt like
a realistic situation, and that was totally the feel that we
wanted. So we wanted it to have that feel like it is a real situation,
the hostage takeover was real. We didn't obey the basic principles
of cinematography in the film: we crossed the line all the time,
the script supervisor was on my back about it. But in a realistic
situation that happens, things aren't perfect. In a standard
film, in every shot the make-up is perfect, the hair is perfect,
the eye lines are correct and the background is great and all
that. We didn't want it to be bad, but we wanted it to be real,
so we would shoot rehearsals quite a lot of the times as well.
So Dolph and myself would stand aside and be "ok well let's
shoot the rehearsal and just let the camera department know about
it, and they'd do a silent turn over. But the actors never knew
we actually rolled. So when we shoot the rehearsals it's very
realistic because suddenly the cast don't feel the pressure of
the director and camera operators, the focus puller. So that's
the approach we looked for, to get that realistic feel of what
happens at that hostage situation, as if it was actual real footage
from a scenario like that.
did you work with storyboards though?
Well we did, we storyboarded quite a lot of the film. But we
didn't obey the storyboards because, one of the things about
documentary-style filmmaking you have to let things happen naturally,
and storyboards gave it a general indication of what we wanted.
But it wasn't the be all and end all because if we were shooting
the rehearsal, often the rehearsal was not like the storyboard
is set. But storyboard is a great reference for the crew to understand
what we are trying to do.
you're on the set you want to get to make the most out what you
have and improve it
Yes, the storyboard is a depiction of how you envision the film
at first. With a film like this, which is unconventional photographically,
you can't live by the storyboards. For any other film like HEAT
or THE DARK KNIGHT, I'm sure those guys probably would
have stick very closely to their storyboards because they had
made theirs practically needed to tell the story. And the way
we were telling the story was from a realistic point of view
so, storyboarding was only used as indication for what we wanted,
but it wasn't exactly what we were shooting. You never know exactly
what you're shooting with a film like this until you have the
cast on the set, and you're on the set itself and the cast are
in their environment, they're dressed in their wardrobe, they
have their make-up on, they look the way the way are. Things
are very different to what you may have to see from when you
did the storyboards.