Monthly Archives: February 2010

Burke and Hare: Edinburgh, Day 3

Not much to report from this shoot.  It was cold, rainy and even snowing as they were shooting in an alley near the city center.  A fire alarm in the nearby student dorms went off and delayed things even further.

So no photos really (dark and access was more restricted than normal), but I got to hang out with Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg as they were waiting in the basement of the dorms.  I approached them with two copies of my film, Hank vs Ninjas, Nazis and Chupacabra as a gift of appreciation saying, “Fans often just get photos and walk away and that’s the only way we can ‘give back’ to you guys.  So I wanted to give you something to enjoy.”  Both were exceptionally kind and gracious. 

I tried to respect boundaries by not snapping photos of them as soon as I spoke with them; I was more interested in just talking to them on a very normal, professional level.  We talked about film, the current state of special effects, and where we see them going.  Andy Serkis has plans for a motion capture production company (interested in both games and film) and both were fans of Cameron’s technological advances in Avatar.

That rounds out my coverage of the Burke and Hare shoot in Edinburgh.  Today that did some quick shooting at a museum (if I recall correctly) and then they’re back to London.

Burke and Hare: Edinburgh, Day 2

The cast and crew returned from shooting in Sterling for two days to wrap up shooting in Edinburgh, Friday night and Saturday morning before moving to the next location (possibly back to London). Here are the photos (sorry about the quality, extreme low-light conditions)

If you want to find their shooting location, just follow the trucks. I stumbled across these on my way home.


They were filming on a street that ran beneath the street in the photo. So they had lighting crews set up above the set.

The set of Burke and Hare from above.

Serious lighting. I felt bad for the guy who had to stand in this cherry picker, in the rain, with a very hot, electric lamp.

This tavern is like a VIP club, with a 19th century bouncer that allows Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg inside.

Crew members were running umbrellas to and away from extras as they tried to keep the detailed costumes dry.

Getting ready for the shoot.

In this scene, Serkis and Pegg are in line to get into this exclusive tavern.  The bouncer lets them in as horse drawn carriages and extras pass by.

Wider shot of the scene playing out (camera can’t zoom while recording)

I know where they’re shooting tomorrow, so keep checking the blog for updates.

Joe Johnston’s Captain America: Shelved?

A source at John Landis’ Burke and Hare film shoot informed me that due to The Wolfman’s poor performance, the Captain American film (set to be released 2011 according to imdb) has been pushed back.

Considering a look at reveals the $150 million dollar werewolf flick has grossed under $100 million worldwide, this doesn’t seem too unlikely. The delay in shooting could indicate a change in directors.

Can’t say I’m too disappointed. Johnston directed Jurassic Park III and The Wolfman, both of which weren’t very impressive.


Since io9 and some other sites picked this story up, Marvel has issued an official response to my post, saying they are not delaying the film.

Batman 3 and Inception Clarification

In my post on Batman 3 and Inception, I made qualified statements based on conversations with my source on the set of Burke and Hare.  This evening I was able to clarify what he said:

The sets for Batman 3 will be constructed toward the end of the year.

Inception, not The Dark Knight, was the film that was under budget, prompting Nolan to have the crew build an extra set (no word if said set was used in the film).

Day of the Dead: Lebowski and Caligari References?

I saw Day of the Dead (1985) for the first time a long time ago and tonight was the first time I’ve watched it since.

In the first 30 minutes, I picked up on three references: Continue reading

Batman 3: To Shoot This Year?

In the earlier post about the Burke and Hare film shoot, I mentioned a source’s experience with Christopher Nolan on the Batman films and Inception.

I forgot to mention that he also said sets were either being constructed, or will soon be constructed, for the third Batman, with the possibility of shooting toward the end of the year.  He also said that they were coming under budget at the end of The Dark Knight, so they built a whole extra set (possible usage in the third film).


I spoke with my source to clarify this info.  See this post for more.

Green Screen TVs and Blockbuster Math recently posted a video showcasing just how much of your TV viewing doesn’t exist:

And over at the New Scientist, they explain how contemporary cinema, including many blockbusters, tend have shot lengths that follow a mathematic pattern that’s pleasing to viewers.

Burke and Hare Photos and Clip (plus Inception Info)

Last night I was on the set for a small scene of John Landis’ latest, Burke and Hare.  The scene feature Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg running down an alley, chasing something, until Pegg notices a strange sound.  In the video below, they turn around and director Landis is the one describing the CGI barrel coming toward them, going over their head (“BOUNCE!”), and crashing behind camera.

Serkis, Pegg, and Landis didn’t stray into the crowd to talk much.  I was behind the crew since I was their first, but I just got a nod from the celebs as they passed by.  Didn’t seem interested in mingling.

It was interesting to see so much money/effort go into such a small scene.  They’re shooting in Sterling today and tomorrow, then returning to Edinburgh to shoot Thursday-Saturday morning.  A friend of mine already knows where they’re shooting on Friday.

I got a lot of  info from a guy on set.  He says it’s a 7 week shoot and they just got back from London.  They’re using two cameras (blurry picture below) to maximize time.

However, more interesting was his comments on Christopher Nolan (a bit chaotic in his shooting style), since he worked with him on Inception and The Dark Knight.  He showed me a video of the rig they used for a hallway scene in the film, which was larger than a semi-truck’s trailer, that completely rotated.  He went on to explain that they rubberized everything inside and painted it so the actors inside could roll around and fight.  They also locked down a camera inside the hallway and used a camera crane that could go inside the moving rig.  Evidently I’m one of the only guys outside of the film industry to see his little cell phone video of this rig.

Trucks and lighting equipment.

This is probably the angle they'll shoot the scene from, since there's a restaurant in the opposite direction.

Dressing the set to hide the new. They also installed old wooden signs.

Rustic carts and hay for that turn of the century look.

This is how you light a set when you can't get a cherry picker lighting kit in: it's a balloon with lights inside.

Waiting for dark with the balloon light rig.

Sorry about the quality. Not enough light and flash wasn't allowed.

[video courtesy of David Law]

Early Review: The Crazies

:author’s note:

This is a re-make of George A. Romero’s 1973 film, The Crazies.  I have not seen the original yet so my review of this re-make would not be colored with expectations prompted by the original.  However, I will provide a comparison in the near future.

Roger Corman is a man who has made careers’ worth of monster and horror movies on a shoe-string budget. At the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year, Corman highlighted the importance of theme and subtext in binding a project together and maintaining integrity. Newly-released horror flick The Crazies, however, is wading in the kiddie pool of film subtext.

The Crazies takes place in Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a town with less than 2,000 residents, whose portrayal cries out “Quaint Rural Living.” Farming is the main occupation, everyone plays baseball in the springtime, and the only minority you’ll likely encounter is the guy who buries you.  Yep, life sure is great in Iowa–until Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) has to shoot an armed man during a baseball game…and another guy burns his family alive…what the hell is going on?

To go any further would spoil it for you, but I can say that if you liked Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004), a re-make of Romero’s original, you’ll love The Crazies: there are tons of blood, jumps, and action to entertain.

However, if you felt the Dawn re-make was a little flat compared to the original’s scathing critique of American consumerism, you’ll notice the same 2D feel in The Crazies. The movie is so busy rushing from one scare or battle to the next that it never gives itself the chance to develop the characters.  The continuous pattern of “BOO!”, kill bad guy, move on to the next bit, made it feel like I was watching someone play Resident Evil (not to mention a shot of the destroyed town that reminded me of Raccoon City’s devastation).

The pacing, of course, is intended to distract you from a lack of substance. While speaking to a friend about the film, I realized the big problem is we don’t see the characters change in response to SPOILER a military quarantine, the ensuing massacre, and a nuclear bomb wiping out their town. SPOILER OVER Despite these major upheavals in their daily life, they’re still the same people at the end as they were in the beginning.  Any time there was a quiet moment between Sheriff Dutton and his wife, I was awaiting another jump gag to pop into frame and preclude any meaningful dialog or growth.

The only point to all of this seems to be that the government and its military arm are bad; to make this statement, director Breck Eisner perpetuates myths of government control by displaying a military that has the manpower and the intel to quickly mobilize and completely quarantine a town within a 48 hour period.


We’re so busy tripping over our no-bid contracts, internal bureaucracy and corruption that we can’t effectively help refugees after a hurricane or fight a war.  The sudden apparation of the military is reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead’s final act: in Shaun it was meant to be funny, but The Crazies just wants you to swallow your disbelief.

Finally, the plot plays into the myth of the American Individual, proclaiming that no matter what (refer to spoiler section), you can overcome it all and survive.  Because you’re an American, goddamnit.

I was also bothered by a rather large plot hole MINOR SPOILER in which Sheriff Dutton stabs a “Crazy” infected woman in the throat, with a knife that is still lodged in his own hand, yet he does not become infected from the mixing of fluids. MINOR SPOILER OVER

Despite these issues, The Crazies is an okay horror film: kudos for practical effects and some directorial points.  But it just doesn’t have the heart that would make it good or even great.

If you’re looking for a horror film with more meat on the bone, check out Carriers (see my review here*).

*go in expecting a drama horror, not a bunch of gore and jumps; otherwise you’ll be disappointed

Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, and John Landis Filming Dark Comedy

John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) is filming part of his latest film, Burke and Hare, in Edinburgh this week.  Andy Serkis (Gollum) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) star, with imdb describing the film as:

A black comedy about two 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school.

Looks like Landis is returning to his roots.  Below are pictures I snapped of the set as they’re getting ready to shoot this evening.

Trucks and lighting equipment.

Rustic carts and hay for that turn of the century look.

Dressing the set to hide the new. They also installed old wooden signs.

This is how you light a set when you can't get a cherry picker lighting kit in: it's a balloon with lights inside.

This is probably the angle they'll shoot the scene from, since there's a restaurant in the opposite direction.