I’m in the process of wrapping up my next Cinefex magazine article, covering one of the first big blockbusters of 2018. I have just the director left to interview – that should happen next week, assuming the studio lets him out of the dark room he’s been confined to for the past few weeks, finalising the film. The rest of the article is done, so once I’ve managed to pin him down it should only take a few days of rewriting and editing to incorporate the new material.
While I’ve been waiting, I’ve kept myself busy on the Cinefex blog. Last week, I posted a lengthy Q&A with independent filmmaker and visual effects pro Hasraf Dulull about his debut feature, the sci-fi pseudo-documentary The Beyond. Hasraf took me behind the scenes on the making of the movie, and also shared his experiences as a first-time director grappling with the Hollywood studio system:
It really started when I was working on the feature film development of Project Kronos [a short film by Dulull that went viral on the Internet] in my spare time. That was great, as I learned so much from working with the executives and producers, but as with a lot of film development it took several years. I didn’t have the patience for that. Also, I was getting a lot of ‘first-time director’ stigma in Hollywood — studios were not keen on taking risks with someone who had only done short films. I took back the rights to The Beyond and planned that as my debut feature film. I redeveloped it to make it feel more like Project Kronos — a cerebral science fiction film that blends the realism of documentary with the fantastical ‘big ideas’ of science fiction films today. I’d describe it as a passion project with a commercial angle.
Earlier today I posted a blog article on The Commuter, the latest pulse-pounder directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starring Liam Neeson. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Stephane Paris spoke to me about the 860 visual effects shots that he and his team delivered for the film, including a sequence involving a spectacular train crash:
The team built a one-and-a-quarter-mile asset of the environment approaching Beacon and the wide station yard, dressed with buildings, tracks, trains and general industrial content. The CG environment included a large curved section of track to match with the action … The impact of the train crash required realistic simulations of bending and crumpling metal, dynamic interactions between the derailing train and the destruction of the environment, and the generation of a large number of secondary dust and fire/smoke simulations from the resulting carnage.