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Set Visit: City of Ember


One of the greatest perks of this job is having the opportunity to visit cool sets in awesome cities. Last weekend, was one of the chosen few invited to attend the set of Fox Walden’s forthcoming fantasy flick, CITY OF EMBER.

Based on a novel by Jeanne DuPrau, directed by Gil Kenan and produced by Tom Hanks’ production company Playtone, the film stars newcomers Harry Treadaway and Saoirse Ronan alongside Tim Robbins, Bill Murray, Toby Jones, Liz Smith, Martin Landau, Mary Kay Place and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

CITY OF EMBER is the story of 2 teenagers, Doon and Lina played by Treadaway and Ronan, who live in the underground city of Ember, lit up with lamps and floodlights and powered by an old electrical system. As the electricity starts to fail, food and supplies become scarce, leaving the kids no other choice but to explore alternatives. Murray plays the fat, gorging mayor of Ember, Robbins takes on the role of Doon’s inventive father, Smith as Lina’s granny and Landau as a gauge monitor attendant.

The remarkably surreal set of Ember is built in the Harland building and currently in production in the historical Titanic Quarter of Belfast. The building, in which the set has been built, is 100 feet tall and once used to paint constructed parts of the RMS Titanic built just outside in the surrounding shipyard. Director Gil Kenan and production designer Martin Laing conducted a detailed tour and description of the enormous set built with 3 story apartment buildings.

In addition to the tours, we observed two small scenes shot in consecutive days in the generator room. We also interviewed costume designer Ruth Myers, Martin Landau, Harry Treadaway and Saoirse Ronan who were shooting on set. However, director Gil Kenan joined us for drinks over an interview at the ritzy hotel Merchant where we also dined the same evening.

As a bonus, the good folks at Fox Walden arranged for us an educational tour of the Wolff paint hall in which the titanic was designed, and where we met with an Irish historian from the Titanic offices. What made this set visit even more memorable was our special bus tour throughout the historic city, and drive through the country to enjoy one of nature’s most breathtaking wonders, Giant’s Causeway.

Overall, the CITY OF EMBER set visit was truly outstanding and unique in every aspect. Still to come are the talent interviews with Landau, Treadaway and Ronan, cocktail interview with director Kenan, an in-depth set description and tour with Laing, the scenes and our extra special-curricular activities. Stay tuned for more.





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