Predators Interview part 2 - About the Production


Predators Interview part 2 - About the Production

Predators

Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins
Director: Nimrod Antal
Genre: Action-Adventure
Rated: MA
Running Time: 107 minutes

Synopsis: Predators, a bold new chapter in the Predator universe, shot under the creative auspices of Robert Rodriguez, stars Adrien Brody as Royce, a cold-blooded mercenary whose only allegiance is to those who pay him. He reluctantly leads a group of elite warriors who come to realise they've been brought together on an alien planet... as prey. With the notable exception of disgraced physician, they are all coldblooded killers - mercenaries, Yakuza, convicts, death squad members - human "predators" that are now being systemically hunted and eliminated by a new breed of alien Predators.

Release Date: July 8th, 2010

About the Production
After beginning production on October 12, 2009 in the jungles of Hawaii, cast and crew completed filming on Predators in Central Texas. Director Nimrod Antal, along with his long-time collaborator director of photography Gyula Pados, teamed with many of Robert Rodriguez's regular crew at the latter's Austin-based facility Troublemaker Studios, including production designers Steve Joyner and Caylah Eddleblute, costume designer Nina Proctor, stunt coordinator Jeff Dashnaw, visual effects supervisors Jabbar Raisani and Rodney J. Brunet (the latter of Troublemaker Digital), and Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger of KNB EFX Group, Inc. Since the majority of the story takes place in a jungle, an unusually large greens department, led by Greens Designer Richard Bell, also became a critical component of the production.

The team is filled with unabashed fans of the original Predator film. "I think the fantastic thing about Predators is this is a project that's been close to Robert Rodriguez's heart forever," says production designer Steve Joyner. "This is a film made by fans, for fans."

"We all were inspired by the original Predator, adds production designer Caylah Eddleblute. "I've studied every frame of the original. It had great foreground images - always something between the character and the camera. Everything was really structured and had a great architecture to it. When you have that kind of challenge facing you, you want to rise to the occasion."

The filmmakers had only ten weeks of prep to ready a massive production that encompassed an ensemble cast and multiple creature characters in a stunt-filled, action-packed story; challenging locations in two states; and considerable site prep and elaborate sets construction. Making things no less difficult was their intent to do many of the effects practically or in-camera - everything from smoke to creatures to stunts to explosions. The visual effects team would take up the slack in post-production.

Producer Elizabeth Avellán attributes Troublemaker Studios' ability to produce a quality movie for a reasonable price to the talent and attitude of their regular collaborators. "We took most of our regular crew at Troublemaker to Hawaii because they're amazing. We just have a working environment that's comparable to none. Fox has been so impressed with the working process that we have here."

Much of the film's visual style was defined by its jungle locations and sets. "Early on, Gyula Pados, Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddleblute and I sat down and we tried to think of other films that had epic jungle scenes that were really visually stunning and complemented what the story was trying to achieve," reveals Nimrod Antal. "We all agreed that our jungle couldn't be the beautiful and lush; instead, it had to complement the Predator characters and the story. We achieved a lot of that through lighting and composition, but the jungle locations that we found were impressive."

To find the perfect exotic alien jungle location that would complement the sets and locations in Texas, the filmmakers considered locations in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even China, before settling on multiple venues near Hilo, Hawaii. "Geologically, The Big Island is one of the newest islands formed so it has very rough terrain and a unique vegetation," says Steve Joyner. "The locations were very alien, very extreme, and very difficult to work in."

The Hawaiian locations had to visually flow with the Texas locations, as well as the elaborate Jungle and Hunting Camp set that was under construction back in Austin at Troublemaker Studios. Following a brief hiatus to transport cast, crew, and equipment from Hawaii, production resumed in Austin, Texas on one of the biggest sets ever constructed in the history of Texas filmmaking. Additional multiple interior sets constructed on the stages at Troublemaker Studios, as well as at the neighboring Austin Studios, would provide cover for a variety of unusually bad weather including rain, extreme cold, and snow.

The back parking lot at Troublemaker became the home of a massive 150 foot by 100 foot exterior Jungle Hunting Camp set. "In creating our hunting camp, [production designer] Caylah [Eddleblute] and I physically walked through the beats as if we were the Predators," says Steve Joyner. We wondered where would the Predators bring their kill? Where would they clean it? How would they preserve the hides and the bones and the trophies that they take? So, we designed individual areas within the camp for all of that, so if you were a Predator, you'd feel right at home. The hunting camp is terrifying; everything was designed to look dangerous."

"One of the big directives from Antal Nimrod on Day One was 'I want The Hunting Camp to look like a [Hieronymous] Bosch painting - it had to be [a Bosch-like] Hell,'" explains Caylah Eddleblute. Also making key contributions to the set's hellish look was director of photography Gyula Pados. "The way Gyula Pados shot the hunting camp, it's almost beautiful," says Robert Rodriguez. "It's soft-lit, as if it's got this canopy of trees over it, yet mysterious with the smoke from the flames."

Since the story takes place in the jungle, the greens department began their work months before most of the crew. In July, they began gathering plant material in the Texas heat and worked through the dead of winter, caring for everything from small plants to big trees in every extreme. Local Austin landscape designers and nurseries helped the production source the living greens. Three fifty-two foot truckloads of approximately 4,000 tropical and exotic plants were initially shipped in from Florida, including 1,200 five-gallon pots of grasses.

Because it was winter, the greens department also used thousands of pounds of silks, some were mounted on portable bases. "We ended up stapling about 1.5 million leaves to the fake big trees," explains greens designer Richard Bell. "One of the first things we focused on was the main hunting camp. For about a month and a half, I had a crew of ten guys going out and harvesting material all over Texas that would later be used as dressing. Before shooting, we had about a week to dress the actual hunting camp part of the jungle after the construction crew had finished with all their elements. We had all kinds of burnt cedars and burnt oak trees and dead logs."

Weaponry is a big part of the Predator universe, defining both the human and alien hunters. Royce carries a machete that is almost identical to the one wielded by Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch in the first movie - it's even made by the same knife maker, Jack Crane. The weapons team also produced skin-pullers, spears, axes, traps, armor, and a shiv for Stans. Says Steve Joyner: "Predators are about their hunting skill. They test their ability against other species. So, it's not about overpowering a species with better weapons or better technology. They're purists. We're trying to stay true to the legacy of the original film."

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