The film company also landed at O'Hare Airport, where Baird launched his prisoner transport plane, a sequence which reaches its climax when the plane crashes into a swamp
The film company also landed at O'Hare Airport, where Baird launched
his prisoner transport plane, a sequence which reaches its climax
when the plane crashes into a swamp. The spectacle demanded the
talents of Ahmad and his crew, along with mechanicaleffects
supervisor MIKE MEINARDUS, visualeffects designer PETER
DONEN and stunt coordinator GARY DAVIS.
Production designer Ahmad relates, "The greatest challenge
was just fitting this elaborate jigsaw puzzle together. We leased
a plane from a Las Vegas casino owner. "We also bought two
actual 727200 fuselages and built another, smaller, set.
Finally, there was the miniature plane that Peter Donen shot."
Once the company located its aircraft pieces, the creative team
"looked at videotapes and stills of actual plane crashes,
to see exactly how a real airplane would break apart," Ahrnad
details. "We had to apply some kind of logic to the way the
plane was going to break apart and fit that into our storyline."
Peter Donen began filming the model plane crash outside of Los
Angeles. Working with a 75man crew, Donen laid 1200 feet
of concrete with a cable running down the middle of a center track.
"We powered our 1000pound model up to 60 miles per
hour, using seven cameras to capture the action as it slammed
into the miniature replica of our Bay City, Illinois location,"
At the same time, director Baird was piecing the elaborate sequence
together on location. A fuselage was set into the Ohio River on
a metal rig with hollow tubes under it, which pumped either air
or water into the tubes to raise and lower the plane. "We
had to see the plane sinking as Gerard is trying to get the prisoners
out," Baird says.
Once location filming concluded in Southern Illinois, the filmmakers
moved indoors to a warehouse on Chicago's Southwest Side, where
Ahmad and Meinardus configured the elaborate mechanics needed
to duplicate the crash landing and sinking of the jet from the
perspective of the plane's interior.
Baird and cinematographer Bartkowiak used special camera mounts
inside the plane to capture the frenzy as the fuselage tumbles
upside down. Snipes, looking with trepidation over the "postAliens
contraption," as he dubbed it, braved the water inside the
plane exclaiming, "It's an insurance risk. I'm a city boy;
I grew up in New York. I can't swim!"
Snipes also encountered another wet set on location in western
Tennessee, where the company spent a week at the eerily beautiful
bayous of Reelfoot Lake to film the story's first confrontation
between Gerard and his fugitive following the plane crash.
Reelfoot Lake, nestled in the northwest corner of Tennessee near
the Kentucky border, was also the location for two other memorable
Hollywood productions, "Raintree County," starring Elizabeth
Taylor and Montgomery Clift, and the 1967 Oscarwinner, "In
the Heat of the Night," starring Sidney Poitier and Best
Actor Rod Steiger. A fishing and hunting mecca, Reelfoot Lake
covers over 25,000 acres, with more than 60% being water and wetlands,
and is the world's largest fish hatchery.
"Chasing fugitives is not for sissies," jokes costar
Pantoliano. The actor knew he was in for a muggy, buggy ride during
his brief sojourn south when he "received a case of bug repellent
from the studio with my contract."
Pantoliano, who ha
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