Set Visit: The Covenant

I’m 26 and lost my virginity Monday, November 14th, 2005. I might as well admit that, not un-like most first times, I came (or is it arrived?) early. It also happened to be Montreal ’s first snowfall of the year which was just beautiful; mother-nature blew a big white load over the city…just for me! Of course I’m talking about my first ever set-visit (yeah, I wasn’t fooling anyone…) to THE COVENANT, a teen-thriller with a super-hero twist.

Plus, it was a Renny Harlin movie-set, so it was quite orgasmic (sigh)!! Sony’s Screen Gems unleashes the film all over the place on September 8th, 2006, but myself and a lucky few got to run around the secretive film set and interview the films director (Rennnnnny!!!!) and cast of fresh-faced actors.


There I was, wide-eyed and full of yummy excitement walking through the doors of a gutted warehouse in Lachine . Upon entering it’s just cool, cool, cool (both in temperature and… well… coolness). The crew had been on the set since 8:00am. About 12 feet from me is a faux-Barn, complete with hay and dirt, which I later learned was where they would be shooting the big climax scene of the film. Off in the distance a Blue screen the size of a 3 story building with a Cliff façade erected in front of it. Cameras, cranes, pulley systems (a new system, created by Cirque du Soleil, being used for the first time for film production), and the sounds of a hard at work production team is heard.

In minutes I was whisked away and led towards the action, and as you should know by now, where there’s action, there’s Renny. Sporting a fresh a haircut, unlike his IMDB photo, he shakes my hand and asks what media source I’m from (nice guy, I think). I respond and it’s on from there. He tells us about the scene they are currently shooting, the 3rd of a 3-part shot that will ultimately be glued together with CGI to make one fluid take. Hello folks, it's movie magic!!! More on that scene in a bit.

How I shook the hand of the director of Die Hard 2 without yelling Yipeekayay-motherf*cker!

You have to understand, I loved CLIFFHANGER and DIE HARD 2 when I was younger. I saw THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT twice in the span of its first week of release. Of course this was before I knew who directors were, before I became more demanding of what the film medium had to offer, before I became a *dun dun dun*...film snob. Having said that, the first 2 films I mentioned remain guilty pleasures and you can add on to that list the more recent DEEP BLUE SEA and MINDHUNTERS. The man who sold me my Toyota Echo says it best, “Iiiiiiiiiit's fun”! That’s what those movies are for me, simply, fun.

As for THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, it goes one step further (not a giant leap, but a solid kangaroo hop) and offers rounded characters and a more intriguing plot. Fast forward to today, I love watching movies, I respect the work that goes into one even if I have my gripes about most finished products, and here I am shaking the hand of a man who has entertained me more often then most. And you can see where that energy in his films comes from just by watching him work.

He’s excited, he’s having fun, and he’s meticulously studying the takes to make sure he’s got what he wants. Clearly it’s a perfect fit for this new film in which he directs a completely unknown cast of hot young flesh (re: They’re all in their 20’s but are playing teens… maybe because they talk about wee-wees and pee-pees? Hmmmmmm… Stay-tuned).


cov·e·nant (k v -n nt) n.

1. A binding agreement; a compact.

2. Law.
a. A formal sealed agreement or contract.
b. A suit to recover damages for violation of such a contract.

3. In the Bible, God's promise to the human race.

Like I said, the cast is completely fresh-faced, and like Renny puts it, “they’re hungry”. These guys (and a few girls) will work for little pay, do overtime (which involves repeat visits to the snack tables while shots are set-up), and pretty much means they have to work as hard as they can to make sure they get another job. I have to say, I could have very well been in the presence of tomorrows Brad, Heath, Tom, or perhaps Jason Priestley or Luke Perry (see how I had to include the last names there… hmmmm)… only time will tell which side of the fence these boys end up on.

They definitely have the look of stars though. The film is based on a comic book of the same name, which as you will read below, is quite intriguing. It’s best described by one of my fellow reporters as The Craft for boys. The descriptions we heard from the cast and crew ranged from The Matrix meets Lost Boys to Harry Potter-meets-Dead Poets Society. Wanna know more, read the following synopsis.

In 1692, in the Ipswich Colony of Massachusetts , five families with untold power formed a covenant of silence.  One family, lusting for more, was banished - their bloodline disappearing without a trace.  Until now.

Directed by Renny Harlin and written by J.S. Cardone, THE COVENANT tells the story of the Sons of Ipswich, four young students at the elite Spenser Academy who are bound by their sacred ancestry. As descendants of the original families who settled in Ipswich Colony in the 1600’s, the boys have all been born with special powers. When the body of a dead student is discovered after a party, secrets begin to unravel which threaten to break the covenant of silence that has protected their families for hundreds of years.


Here’s most of the cool info I absorbed that day, and now, I pass it onto you. Look, I even put numbers next to each one so you can discuss over MSN with friends (ie: “Hey Mat, check out point #2, he says “faux”… LOL! What a ham!”). See… easy-peasy, japan-easy (Shawshank anyone?)!!

  1. "The Covenant" is the third film that Renny Harlin has shot in Montreal . "Driven" with Sylvester Stallone was his first, "Mindhunters" second.
  2. The faux-Cliff (approx. 20 feet high) will appear much higher once effects are added (but you knew that already didn’t you. Keep score and you might win something).
  3. "The Covenant" has been shooting since the beginning of October and will continue shooting until December 8th. Shooting has taken place in and around Montreal , in Sherbrooke at Bishop’s University. Some scenes were also shot in Saint-Lazare, and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
  4. Renny used the “voice of god” (A mic connected to big speakers) to direct the actors and the scene.
  5. The director meticulously re-watched his favorite takes in slow motion to make sure the scene was dressed the way he liked. Too much smoke or not enough.
  6. The side of the faux-cliff was hosed down to make the rocks look more realistic.
  7. Detailed storyboards for the “barn action sequence” were stapled up against some press-wood for the production designer’s crew to refer to. A lot of cool super-hero style action was depicted.
  8. A grunge/rock song was played during the shooting of the first scene of the day to inspire the right kind of cool in the actors’ expressions. The song was by THE FAINT.
  9. Renny’s description of the second shot was quite funny. He used 2 water balls and one of the monitors to shows us how it would work. His hand acted as the camera.
  10. 317 Special effect shots are in the movie.
  11. A mustang was parked on the set. We later discovered that this car would be involved in that same barn action sequence in which it will collide with a Semi truck.
  12. They have dedicated 2 weeks of shooting to Blue Screen. Shooting all this back to back will trim time and money from the production.
  13. The only shots of the film that were pre-visualized were the more complicated action scenes. 2 to be exact.
  14. Mario Rachiele (Visual Effects Supervisor) showed us examples he used to come to a decision with Renny about the look of the power-ora for the boys. It looks like a kind of foggy/glassy/organic/geometric/CG effect.
  15. Mario described another effect, which would involve one of the girls floating up high, suspended during the big “Barn action sequence”. She will be photographed underwater and added in post.
  16. For the set-up of the second shot, stunt-men thoroughly tested the wiring and worked until the timing was right with the camera movement and of course that everything was safe for the actors. The actors themselves watched as they would do take after take in order to get the feel for it.
  17. Renny’s direction for the actors involves lines like “Make it super extra good”.
  18. Cast and crew kept talking about a film called “Volcano High” as inspiration for the wire work.

Big thanks to Sony / Columbia / Screen Gems for the great day, and JoBlo.com for hooking it all up. I loved it. I met a super-duper cool director, some wanna-may-be stars that, God willing, I can someday get day to day info on their personal lives in the pages of US and other seedy publications that strive on the invasion of celebs privacy. But, most of all I look forward to seeing what this film looks like and cross my fingers I’ll enjoy it at a theater near me (‘cause saying a theater near you would just sound creepy). Here’s hoping this generation gets there own version of THE LOST BOYS. Toodles.

Interviews with cast/director coming soon...

Source: JoBlo.com



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