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SET VISIT: Drive Angry 3D, starring Nicolas Cage.

07.19.2010by: Andre Manseau

CHECK OUT BRAND NEW DRIVE ANGRY CONCEPT ART WITHIN THIS STORY!

When you hear stories about the movie industry, you often hear about how everyone has their own agenda and would step over their own mother to get what they need. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I arrived in Shreveport, Louisiana to attend my first ever set visit for the upcoming psycho-road movie, Drive Angry. This one is being helmed by Patrick Lussier of My Bloody Valentine fame and was co-written by his partner in crime, Todd Farmer. It stars Nic Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner and Billy Burke,  and is shaping up to be a badass flick.

Going back to my opening statement- I write about a lot of movies and video games for Arrow in the Head, but this was my first set visit and I was not completely sure what to expect. Would people just be going through the motions? Would cast and crew be friendly? Would I survive all of the tex-mex I ate during my long commute back to eastern Canada? Luckily for me, I'm here to tell you that any negative pre-conceived notions I may have had about any hollywood portrayals of divas, macho guys and prima donnas were completely unfounded. I learned quickly that this group of people were truly working together as a team, and each one was passionate and committed to delivering the best version of this product that they possibly could. 

We (myself and other websites covering the set visit) arrived at the set later than originallly scheduled, around 9 pm or so. The crew had been shooting nights for about a week and half and this was their final week of shooting.

The first place we went was actually straight to the hot set, where we were told that they would be filming one of the final scenes of the film. Of course, we were sworn to secrecy about not revealing what we saw, but I can shed a little bit of light on things and let you know a few of my thoughts. This particular scene followed a particularly explosive one and was pretty intense. Here's what we know. A vehicle has exploded and Nic Cage's escapee-from-hell (literally) Milton has been struck down by Billy Burke's cult leader character and there's some serious nastiness going on. The scene is being monitored very closely by the Accountant, Bill Fichtner's agent from hell. Cage is crawling along on his hands and knees, at the very end of his rope while at the mercy of Burke.

We got to see some key people in action and getting to watch Nic Cage (and others who won't be spoiled) ply his craft in different takes was really cool. Getting to watch his subtle nuances and movements change as he did each take was really awesome to watch- the guy's a screen legend.

All was not to go really smoothly on this evening though. Part of the reason we were delayed getting to set was due to the weather in shreveport, where it was just really windy and that was affecting things. Everyone on set was wearing goggles between takes and originally I didn't exactly understand why but it soon became apparent when debris was going flying due to a few big gusts that would pick toss stuff around. It seemed  to be playing havoc with some of the pyro effects we'd been witness to as well. On top of this, we were also present for what had to be a major frustration for everyone. In Shreveport, trains seem to go by every time Patrick would call for the scene to begin. I was hanging out with Todd Farmer at this point (the dude is awesome, which I'll talk more about during his interview). When I looked at him with a sort of 'eep' look when I heard the train whistle blasting obnoxiously, he smiled wide, threw up his hands and said “Welcome to Shreveport.” It would appear that this wasn't the first time this had happened and unfortunately every time it would seem to die down, the train would seemingly wait for the scene to reset and blow again. A truly terrible coincidence.

I was fortunate enough to be ushered over to the stereographer during a take of this scene. In case you're not sure what this is, I'll enlighten you. The stereographer is the guy who basically watches over the 3d filming in real time and makes sure everything is going smoothly. Are you a young individual who wants to get into the movie business and make some serious cash? Take it from me- given the current trend in Hollywood and what I heard from filmmakers cast and crew on this set, this is a career you might want to get into.

As I sauntered over to the monitors, I had the chance to slip on some 3d glasses and check out the 3d effects as they were filming. During a conversation I had with Todd, he was saying that the 3D effects in this film were so cool that when cast and crew would just walk by the camera during downtime, it would look really impressive. He was absolutely right- I got to see this final scene being filmed in 3D and let me tell you, this technology is advancing faster than we realize. I was really impressed and dazzled at the field of depth I witnessed and I can't describe it accurately but I am not one to exaggerate or be overly hyperbolic so you'll have to take my word for it.

From here, we were whisked away to a dark garage where we had the opportunity to check out the vehicles used in the film. As you may already know, this is a flick filled with a lot of badass vehicles. The marquee vehicle is the Dodge Charger, and it would appear that these vehicles are much harder to secure than one might think as a ton of them got destroyed during the filming of the Dukes of Hazzard flick a few years ago. It was really cool listening to the Erik Vonhoff chat about this stuff, as he really was an expert and told us more about getting the vehicles ready, crashing them, rebuilding them, modifying them for 3D cameras (think bigger windows and matte paint which wouldn't reflect and ruin the effects).

I'm not really allowed to talk specifically about the other cars, and to be honest I am certain of this fact because I was not even told who drove t hem, only that they were simply “non-descript” cars, which essentially means that lips were sealed. I can tell you that there are a couple more awesome vehicles that I must be vague about, but know that there is a custom built roadster that is one of a kind, and a really neat, Americana-inspired looking 1950s vehicle. With that said, getting to sit in the charger and see and hear it fired up was really an extraordinary thing. I'm not much of a car guy, but that was undoubtedly awesome. 

The next thing we got to do was hang out with FX director, Gary Cunnicliffe. Gary is a manic and animated dude from the UK who was an absolute blast to chat with. On the way over, I was talking with Todd who put Gary over huge. Tunnicliffe has been an intergral part of Pat Lussier's team, and the two won't work without one another. Todd also was saying he's a blast to have around, and the scary thing about him is that if you needed to hide a body, Gary could pull that off because his effects are so realistic.

I'm really bummed that I can't go more into detail about the big setpiece that we got to check out when we got there. I can tell you that its a weapon, it's super badass, quite fantastical and packs a serious, serious punch. Gary went on to tell us about how he created the weapon from scratch, the various design changes it went through, and even showed us the different mock-ups of the weapon (light prop for ease of use versus more realistically built). There was a point in time when he held the thing up and deployed it right in another reporter's face and I'm just glad it wasn't me because although the thing isn't real, I can tell you that I wouldn't even want someone to pretend to blast me with it. This was an awesome, energetic and exciting part of the set visit and Tunnicliffe is really a hilarious guy whose manic energy and friendly personality make him impossible to dislike.  Seeing his attention to detail and the way he described certain little touches to the weapon (think specialized ammo) had me swooning in geek heaven. Also, it was completely impossible to tell the different versions of the weapon  apart and that's quite a testament to Gary's ability due to the fact that the 'real' version weighed a good 15 pounds, requiring two hands to lift and the other version was feather light.

A highlight of this  evening was when Gary was talking about some high-tech weaponry used in the film, which really interested a fellow reporter. When the guy kept asking questions about the power of the weapon and couldn't seem to stop, Gary playfully (and hilariously) tore him to shreds with things like “Well, we know what to get you for Christmas!” At this point, we had our thirst for these automatic weapon satiated when we got to watch a video of Todd firing one of the automatic shotguns. I won't spoil it, but as Gary put it, “These sure aren't for hunting, are they?” I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity to check out the set of Drive Angry for an evening and would like to sincerely thank Summit pictures for inviting me to come along. It gave me some insight into a movie that sounds like it has a serious set of hangers and on top of that I got to watch some awesome people working together to produce a great product.

I thought that Patrick Lussier's previous effort, My Bloody Valentine was the best 3D i've seen and some of the most fun I've had at the movies- it would appear that this crew has reassembled to make an even better movie which has the potential to be even more entertaining than the last. I can tell you this- this one is being released on my birthday, February 11th of 2011 and it'll make for a great birthday present.  Stay tuned for in-depth interviews with the cast and crew during the coming weeks leading up to release!

STAY TUNED FOR SOME DRIVE ANGRY CAST & CREW INTERVIEWS!

Extra Tidbit: If you're into Comic-Con (and who isn't?), pay close attention to what's going on in the upcoming few days. If you're fortunate enough to be attending the event, check out the Drive Angry panel on Friday, July 23, 2010 10:30am 11:00am in Hall H where they'll be showing off WORLD PREMIERE footage from the flick! Cage, Amber Heard and Lussier will be in attendance while this whole thing goes down.

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