Set Visit: Predators
I was a fan of the original. The sequels? Not so much. Well, the new film, PREDATORS is throwing out the sequels and starting again. I got a chance to check out the set in Austin, TX at Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios. (They did the beginning of the shoot in Hawaii...ahem.) We didn't get to see a lot of shooting. Just one scene where Adrian Brody crawls towards the camera. But we got a look at one of the Predators (which was the highlight of the visit) and incredible access to the cast and crew.
By now, you all know that there are a number of Predators. One that hunts with dogs...well, Predator dogs. One that hunts with mechanical birds. Classic Predator and the brand new Super Predator. After some of our cast interviews, we were taken into a giant hanger where a photo shoot was going on. First we spoke with KNB-EFX founder/effects artist Greg Nicotero, who discussed the design of the creatures. He was incredibly excited about the sheer amount of practical effects and from what we saw of the Predators...well, you could almost lose the CGI. We were told that, while it would be used to cloak the creatures, the reliance was on what they could create with their hands. Carey Jones, not only an effects artist, but an actor as well was getting his picture taken in the suit and wandered over to us. The poor man was sweating, and told us that wearing the suit was a skill in and of itself. I've spoken to him since and he told me there were injuries here and there, and it was difficult to see during the fight scenes. He likened it to working out with elastic bands and said that, in the heat, the suits are boiling, and in the cold, they were cold. But he said he enjoyed it all thoroughly.
We also got to wander around the hunting camp set. You've seen the pictures online, but it was nothing compared to being there. The entire set was based on a Hieronymus Bosch painting and featured spiky trees, skulls, bones and packing crates with Predator writing. As we wandered between sharp objects over uneven ground, it was hard to imagine a fight scene while wearing a mask. Honestly, I'm not sure how no one got skewered. We learned a bit more about the story here, but I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that the group are not the only things being hunted. Greens director Richard Bell (head o' plants) told us that they had to recreate the sets they had in Hawaii. As this happened to be one of the coldest winters on record in Austin, it was certainly a challenge. Every time a tropical tree died, it had to be replaced by the exact same thing. Bell also told us that, after the shoot, they would be donating the plants to the community.
As I said, you'll get to read all the cast interviews this week, but one that particularly stood out was the one with the director, Nimrod Antal. Not only did everyone...and I mean everyone talk about how much they loved him, but he showed more enthusiasm for the film than any director of any film I've ever interviewed. Nicotero told us that, between takes, Antal would run onto the set and grab things like a broken piece of a Predator blade as a souvenir. When he was told that they would make him his own, he said that this was real. Part of the real fight. We also heard that, after particularly good takes, he would yell, 'pancakes.'
I wasn't sold on the idea of a new Predator film. I'll be honest with you. But after what I saw on the set, from the creatures to the care taken with the set to the enthusiasm of the cast and crew...I'm convinced. The film looks damn good. I can't wait.
PREDATORS opens July 9th, 2010.
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