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Sunday
Aug212011

Mexican Wrestler in Sarang

If there was one single scene in Moon that made us the most anxious in the run-up to shooting it, it was the fight scene. We had a few tricks we were hoping would help us out, especially spending some time working with the edit. Before we actually shot it, we weren't 100% sure it was going to work. As with many things on this project we just ran at it and tried our hardest. There were a couple of things that were stressing us out; making sure we could cut together a good looking, convincing sequence, and tipping the model over. We only had one model and the little houses are actually plastic painted up to make them look like wood. They were actually little model railway houses and people and we weren't sure exactly how delicate they were. We knew that when Sam actually tipped the board up with the model on, it would go violently flying all over the place and we were stressed out that the little houses would be destroyed as we needed them later for some close-up shots of him working on them. It all turned out okay in the end as our art department geniuses Hideki Arichi and Andy Proctor filled them with biscuit foam which is kind of like cavity wall insulation but sets rock hard. Cheers lads, nice job!

Sam had a tendency to really get into the anger side of Sam Bell, which gave us a fantastic performance but also left us with a few holes in the set at the end of shooting. On one take in the rover interior he actually punched out the monitor in the cab and smashed the screen in, it was completely knackered. It was a 17-inch flat screen telly and he just put his fist right through it and smashed it to bits. This was when we were filming the scene where he calls Eve Bell and is understandably upset. Mind you, so were the Art Department when they had to change it out double fast as we got setup for the next take. Another bit of set damage came when he does his tour of the base looking for the secret hatch. There was one shot that made the cut where you see him punch a padded bulkhead. These were actually quite delicate, they were Styrofoam blocks cut to shape and covered in a thin layer of plaster and then covered with fabric. When Sam punches it he hit it so hard it actually made a big divot in the Styrofoam. I think we got away with this as it was only a bit of background set dressing but it was pretty beaten up. Sam’s does a lot of boxing training to keep fit and the speedball in the Rec Room was his idea when we started filming. Originally it was black and white but we painted the white bits orange so it would look more "Lunar Industries". Painting a stuffed leather object that's going to get punched is not the easiest thing to do and we gave up re-painting it orange, as whenever Sam was on the speedball he'd actually punch the paint right off the ball. If you look closely at it in the film you'll see it looks pretty dirty, this is the remnants of the orange paint in all the little cracks in the white leather.

Most of the fight scene was using Sam fighting a double, and we were trying to pick shots where you could only see one Sams' face in any one shot. There was an exception to this, which is the shot where Sam2 has Sam1 in a headlock. We shot this using a double and gave him a chroma-key balaclava with some tracking markers on it so that it would help us replace it in post.

The thing about this is that when we were shooting, it looked like a Mexican wrestling match, which was quite funny to watch. The balaclava itself turned out to be a huge pain in the balls for me as the production office initially refused to hand it over to me. I needed to shoot some tests and prep it for the actor/stunt-man and I got into a bit of a barney over it. It was quite an infuriating position to be put in as I even ordered the thing in the first place. The "problem" was something that I've run across before and is inherent in some people when acquiring kit for a production. It's all to do with perceived value that people can understand. Our budget was super-tight and as this balaclava was made from special chroma-key material it happened to cost £80. It was really important for the shoot and so I got it ordered from the production office and that was that. When I needed it a few days later, I checked in with the Wardrobe department and they didn't have it. They told me it had been taken to the production office and so I headed there. I then proceeded to get in a massive barney trying to get it out of a locked drawer and into my hands where it needed to be for the tests. The problem was that the balaclava came as a solid material piece and I had mentioned earlier that I was going to be fitting it to the stunt man, which involved cutting some eyeholes in it. This should have been pretty obvious as it came as a solid hood with no holes, the idea being that you are supposed to modify it to fit a specific individual. Anyhow, the production team weren't having any of it as they didn't understand the process or really what it was for despite my explanations. They just saw an eighty quid balaclava and me standing in front of them with a pair of scissors in my hand saying that I needed to cut some holes into it.

The problem with things like this is that a balaclava costing eighty quid is an easily quantifiable thing. I doubt anybody I know has ever actually spent eighty quid on a balaclava, so this one must obviously register as valuable and hence keeping away from scissors. If I had said I needed a Hassleblad camera body at fifteen grand nobody would have questioned that, as it's unquantifiable to most people. But an eighty quid balaclava isn't. Goddam you, expensive special effects clothes.

A couple of weeks later we shot Sams' head of himself choking as he's being strangled. This looks pretty weird as a clip and you can see this on the Moon DVD Extras where Simon Stanley Clamp talks about it a bit more.

Here's something you'll not have seen before which is a clip of the fight rehearsals. We only rehearsed a couple of bits of the film as our resources were so tight but the fight was one thing that we had to work out before the main event. This was shot in the Sarang set a couple of weeks or so before filming started, you can see that everything's lit by construction lighting and things are still being built and painted. There's no graphics on the walls and the floor is covered in brown paper to try and keep it clean. If you listen you can hear me starting the camera running and 1st AD Mick Ward calling action. Sam is in the green t-shirt and very hairy and his fight-partner in the blue top is Robin Chalk. Robin was Sams' double throughout the film and you see his back quite a lot in the film. The funny thing about a double is that you don't actually want somebody that looks identical, you want somebody that looks identical from the back/side as you're never going to point the camera right in their face. Sorry about the size of the file and thanks for hanging around whilst it loads. I hope it's worth it. Who knows, you might get some tips on pretend-fighting. I'd still like to see a Directors Cut where we keep the original wrestling mask in. That'd be ace.

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    Gavin Rothery - Directing - Concept - VFX - "Making of Moon" Blog - Mexican Wrestler in Sarang

Reader Comments (1)

I liked that Balaclava anecdote... And your work is awesome. I spent some time on your site appreciating it.

Raphael

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterraphael

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