THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 2
One Production, Two Movies
A multi-national crew created Forks, Washington primarily in two major
locations: in and
around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, as well as in Vancouver and
British Columbia, Canada. Shooting both movies at one time posed challenges, but
series finale battle, was a battle on its own. "There's heavier peril involved
as the Volturi start to
gather momentum and move from Italy to Forks. That build up is going to generate
a lot of
excitement leading up to the confrontation," says co-producer Bill Bannerman.
Approaching the project as a whole, filmmakers had 20 weeks of prep time,
months to find locations, build sets, create props, find set dressing, and
prepare costumes, wigs,
makeup, and hand painted contact lens for the largest cast of the saga for both
Bannerman and first assistant director Justin Muller had to organize shooting to
multiple actors' commitments to publicity opportunities and other projects. "I
was a marathon with about a three month shooting schedule, so doing this 222
page script for
over half a year - at the beginning did seem a little overwhelming," reveals
Condon was thrilled to have the technical brilliance, as well as the heart
and soul, of
celebrated director of photography Guillermo Navarro with him for both the epic
moments of the cinematic journey. "When I had my first meeting with Guillermo,
at least on my
side, it was instant love. He's just an incredibly compelling personality and a
great artist. His
description of what he wanted to achieve was interesting right from the start,"
"Guillermo's also got a great eye and a great sense of how to use the camera to
get inside what a
character is feeling, which was crucial."
Taking their cues from the descriptions in Meyer's book, production designer
Sherman and costume designer Michael Wilkinson were key collaborators in helping
Condon conceive the look of the film. "Richard is somebody I have worked with
since I started
making movies. He seemed really right for this because of his fascination with
all things Gothic,
and especially vampires," comments Condon.
"The great thing about Bill is that he knows exactly what he wants, but he's
comments production designer Richard Sherman. "If you go to him with a great
idea and he likes
it, he'll go with it. He's not stubborn. He trusts his crew, which is very, very
important. I always
have fun with him."
"What really attracted me to this film primarily was this wonderful, dramatic
transformation and empowerment for Bella, which must be reflected in her
clothes," says costume
designer Michael Wilkinson. "Her journey in these two films is really
breathtaking. She starts as
a young woman in a small town, and end as the most powerful vampire in the
world. In the two
films, Bella has about 60 costume changes."
"Michael has that perfect combination of talents," continues Condon. "He is a
comfort to me, having worked on big design movies - fantasies like 300 and Tron:
Legacy - that
feature huge casts of distinct characters. But also, he's done realistic movies,
and he really knew
how to dress Bella. In these movies, we are taking these kids and bringing them
into adult life.
Kristen starts in a hoodie, but she becomes a young married woman, who then
becomes a strong
vampire. I thought Michael has a real sensitivity to how to visually take these
characters into their
20s. In this second movie, all these characters from across the globe - Amazon,
and everywhere - all gather at one point, and you have to make them make sense
together in a
frame, and Michael was really brilliant at that."
"It was really important for Bill and I that there was a sense of believable
to all of them,
and yet at the same time they had to be very striking, appealing, memorable, and
iconic in the
look of these covens and individuals. For each nationality, we tried to really
give them a very well
defined flavo," Wilkinson comments.
Godfrey adds, "Michael has a great mix between the real and the fantasy -
look at his
work in Watchmen - and given that we're finally getting out of the human world
of Forks and
creating all of these new vampire characters, it needed to be pushed into a
"Like for the battle in Eclipse, we had wilderness venue with two opposing sides
units gathering footage," says Bannerman. "On Eclipse, we had 13 days between
the two units
with the Cullens, newborns, and wolves. Fast forward to Breaking Dawn, we now
have 30 days
between the two units, but we need to cover about 30 pages of dialogue and
with the Cullen Coven, the Cullen allies, the wolves, the Volturi, the Volturi
Guard, and the Volturi
witnesses. The number of people involved on screen actually tripled and the CG
doubled to 16. Everything is ramped up tenfold. You're talking at least a bare
minimum of six to
seven weeks of shooting in Baton Rouge alone, just for the battle."
The exteriors of the penultimate battle would be shot in wilderness areas in
for the intense dialogue and intricate stunt work between many actors,
filmmakers needed a more
practical private space, secure from fans and paparazzi. "Where are we going to
shoot all this
efficiently, controlling as many variables - including weather - as we can? We
had no choice but
to choose a pragmatic location, instead of dealing with trying to transport more
than 500 people
and everything up mountainous terrain," reasons Bannerman.
To handle all the requirements, filmmakers selected the Southern University
Center Livestock Arena to be the home of the battle. "We were outside of Baton
Rouge in a giant
space where normally cows are running around, but now there are humans," laughs
"We've created a virtual space of a snow-covered field. It's the culmination of
five films, where
the chess game with Aro comes to a head and the fight breaks out."
"Shooting there turned out to be the most grueling part of the shoot for
involved, especially the actors. But we always kept reminding ourselves, that
bad as it was, it
could've been so much worse if we'd been outside in the real snow for months,"
Condon adds, "We got into the scene very early in the shoot, before Christmas of
and it was odd because the scene wouldn't actually be in theaters until almost
two years later.
We had limited shooting time, and it was such a big scene, that we had stage it
like a play first.
We took an entire day just to block the scene, playing it through beat by beat
by beat with the
actors. That rehearsal turned out to be invaluable, because so much of it was
never been involved with anything that was so logistically complicated."
Complicated stunts played out in the space. "Jeff Imada is the fight
coordinator that we
brought to Louisiana for the battle," states Godfrey. "He's incredibly well
done the Bourne movies. He is also very disciplined and very good with the
actors. His work
elevates the action from the previous films."
Battling vampires have more strength and speed than humans. "A lot of times
what's adequate for flying the actors, what looks natural to the body, the body
what you're trying to achieve," explains Imada. "When it's bigger than life,
many times you go to
pneumatics and bring in ratchets. But if you want a more natural look, covering
a long distance,
then we would use the winches."
Right before the action explodes, Alice arrives on the field to show Aro his
comes backs to really kick butt," says Ashley Greene. "Because she can see the
future, she has
an advantage. We had a really fun time creating the fight sequence; Alice is
ferocious inside the vision, where some of my family members are lost, including
goes a little crazy. I definitely commit. I like to be able to do my own stunts.
If I know there's a
stunt sequence, I'm the gym training and working with stunt trainers to make
sure I'm up to the
task. I have a martial arts background, so whatever they'll let me do, I'll do.
Her on-screen mate Jackson Rathbone also enjoyed the stunts. "I never really
myself to be an action guy, but man I love it," he says. "I have a history in
Taekwondo, and now I
get to learn a little Kung Fu and fighting for camera. It's going to be really
exciting on screen and
I get to work very closely with Jeff Imada and his crew. It's so much fun as the
stunt guys and
women are just the salt of the earth. They're incredible performers so to have
them train me is
just great. A lot of us worked six days a week, rolling back and forth between
main unit and
second unit, so that's a lot of fighting."
Pattinson adds, "It suddenly turned into an action movie at the end. I did a
like the one where I did a jump on a wire, which was pretty fun. I also did lots
of general fighting
and ripping people's heads off."
Inside the gated grounds of the agricultural center, filmmakers created a
"vamp camp" to
support the battle. Godfrey says, "Up to 100 vampire actors - principals,
and stunt people - were going through the works every day, a process that takes
one to three
hours for each individual vampire."
"How do you bring to the table that 100 people and get them all on set in the
that Bill Condon can shoot master wide shots? You can't work with all trailers
at this volume,"
asks Bannerman. "We had to accommodate vampire makeup, hair, wigs, contacts,
props, jewelry, catering, crew support, security, and all the other subsequent
issues. Where do
all our background performers put their phones? For security reasons, they're
not allowed to
bring cell phones onto the set and no one was allowed to take pictures. In
addition to the 32
trailers, we created a tent city of support to cater to all these needs. It
takes up a lot of real
estate, but every day it allowed the whole family to gather and fight the
"We've had up to 30 costumers on set, looking after all of the different
people in the
battle, plus a handful of seamstresses back at the workroom, which is a huge,
filled with racks of costumes. On set, we had two wardrobe trucks, one for
and one for secondary characters, filled to the rafters with costumes," says
"One morning we arrived and it was this massive swamp, you practically had to
get to your trailer," adds MyAnna Buring. "Very quickly, the crew built this
gangway of boards so
we could get to our various trailers and tents."
Crews had to pump out all the water and build raised boardwalks to
things so the vampires could work their way through the various stations without
elaborate costumes through the mud. "An aerial view of the compound looks like a
vampires," laughs Bannerman. "But this ancillary support system keeps everybody
close to the
set and out of the elements."
Valorie Curry adds, "Tent city reminds me of that scene near the end of E.T.
government comes and they're going through those plastic tunnels with him and
everything is this
biohazard insulated environment. It's like being on a spaceship. There are days
when I'm sitting
in my trailer and we get a sudden downpour, and I feel like I'm in my own little
are the days that you get here before dawn, and you leave after dark."
"Our base camp, sometimes feels like a sausage factory because you go to
move to the next thing, you see the lens technician, you move to the next thing,
and so on,"
comments Rami Malek.
"Tent city is massive, like a military base camp except with all very pale
around," laughs Noel Fisher. "I've never been on anything, anywhere even close
to as big."
"The arena parking lot looked like a traveling circus, because it was
trailers and tents and
trucks surrounded by walls. Plus walkways heading towards this giant arena,
where it really felt
like a circus because everyone's walking around in all these crazy costumes,
looking not human,"
laughs Casey LaBow.
"Road signs said things like The Emerald City, Volturi Way, Cullen Avenue,
Brick Road, and The Ninth Ward. We were there for so long, people started
LaBow adds. "You would walk down the little alleyways in between all the
trailers, and there was
collections of people all over the place. Three or four people playing music,
walking around with his banjalaili, and Jamie Campbell Bower rocking out to some
music with a bunch of ladies in his trailer. Like a college campus, a dorm room
thing where you
would walk down hallways and people's doors were open and something different
was going on
in each room."
Condon adds, "I remember trying to find Lee Pace at one point and I got lost
Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser's trailers. Everyone was there for so long,
it became like a
home away from home. We had this huge holding area tent for all the extras, and
that was a
factory of getting them into wardrobe and red contact lenses and it was an
intense, big operation
"Vamp Camp is great because the friends you make at camp, are friends you
comments Toni Trucks. "We're in such heightened circumstances, and away from our
and family here in Baton Rouge, so the bonding is quick."
Buring agrees, "Vamp Camp has been an incredible experience, a bit like how I
imagine summer camp to be. It's been quite crazy, a lot of fun, with lots of
pranks. I keep waiting
for l parents to pick us all up and take us home."
"We're all really friends and it's a unique experience for us. We're together
24 hours a
day, more or less," adds Curry. "We don't have any of our own transportation; we
anywhere, unless we're driven around by the grown-ups."
The experience carried over to off set time. "We've literally taken over the
Downtown Baton Rouge, you can't walk through the main lobby without running into
the show. If you're ever lonely, just get out of the elevator," says Fisher. "We
all hang out and
help tape each other's auditions. It's become a little family of about 90
"When you're working in New York or Los Angeles, you go home after work. This
being on tour with a show, this becomes your world," says Lisa Howard. "I've
made some really
good, new friends... if you're really bored, you can always go down to the hotel
bar and someone
will be there."
"This big cast has a lot of new actors, and we've had a great opportunity to
feed off of
each other's energy, essentially living together and taking over Baton Rouge,
enjoying the city,
working, and playing together. It was a good social experiment with different
people in different seasons of their career, altogether."
Bill Tangradi adds, "But we have gotten a chance to really explore how to
other, taking many weekend trips to New Orleans. There's a huge generosity of
everybody and we're all aware of the caliber of this project. It's actually
refreshing to see a bunch
of actors be humble about the fact that they're working on something that's of
"After work, there's been some serious vampire karaoke going on... it's got to
because my voice is getting a little sore," laughs Christian Camargo. "This is
such an immersive
experience, we're stuck with each other. But it is a great eccentric bunch of
people. Each coven
has their own distinct personality, even off camera."
Buring agrees, "The karaoke's really good. Billy discovered this fun place by
One night Mia convinced me to sing Sweet Dreams with her, claiming it was an
Somehow we started choreographing dance moves together, we had the crowd going,
became an amazing event. Casey, Rami, Billy, and Patrick showed up, so the
Wednesday we did exactly the same thing and it became a bit of a tradition."
Their off-screen hobby somehow made its way onto the set. "On the last day of
main unit of the battle, we had an impromptu dance battle, which was originally
Lee Pace's idea
which then trickled down to Mia and MyAnna, and eventually trickled down to me
to translate the
dance into counts," explains Trucks.
"The choreography actually started the first week that we were all standing
on the field.
Lee started joking that Carmen may not have special vampire powers, but she does
power of dance. Carmen's going to destroy the Volturi with her choreography,"
Maestro. "We just started playing with that idea. A few weeks into shooting that
scene, we were
all pretty bored and tired, so I just decided to put that together with MyAnna
"We started choreographing it in the hair trailer and called in Toni, because
she's a great
dancer. She kept the count and taught the choreography to everyone else. It was
the most fun
thing because we had been standing for almost three weeks, almost without
moving. I'd just had
it, I cannot stand one more second," laughs Maestro. "I need to move, I need to
Carmen truly has the power of dance."
Buring adds, "We've been standing with our various covens in this huge arena,
surrounded by green screen in snow and dust. The Denali coven is a lot of fun,
so one day Lee
said, 'Wouldn't it be funny standing here facing off with the Volturi, if we did
a dance off?' Genius.
We got the Cullen gang got together and learned the dance over lunchtime. After
sweating away in that arena, it just broke the ice for everyone."
"A few of the boys were trepidatious about getting involved because we don't
moves," says Malik. "But, little by little, you've got to join in, and everybody
did, even Kellan and
Peter. During our few rehearsals, we were trying to keep the Volturi out of the
tent so they
couldn't see. The best part of that flash mob was everyone could use a little
release. To bring
this out of nowhere, was a highlight for everybody in there working. Most of the
crew didn't know
about it. Bill gets off his director's chair, and starts joining in, jumping up
"We chose this song by Eurhythmics that we had been karaoke-ing every
adds Maestro. "It was a pure moment of joy and very liberating for all of us
just to move."
"The Volturi were supposed to make their own dance and we saw them doing some
cape-ography that never came to fruition," laughs Trucks. "The impromptu dance
battle was the
best day ever and I wish that we had done it sooner, because it was one of those
moments for the cast and crew. Bill Condon was so surprised. The D.P. and the
sound guy were
totally in on it, so we have it on film."
"People had a lot of time on their hands, but it still amazes me that they
were able to
keep it secret," says Condon. "We were doing huge shots of the Volturi side
against the Cullen
side and we had the biggest, highest crane, and widest lens set up. I saw
Mackenzie run out
there and it made no sense for Mackenzie to be there right then, so I was
wondering what was
going on. Then there was this beat and the most amazing thing I've ever seen
entire Cullen side started to do this dance that was unbelievably well
rehearsed, funny and
brilliant. The Volturi side caught on and it was this incredible dance-off that
they had done as a
surprise. It was touching and beautiful, and it also lifted everybody's spirits
in an amazing way."
Erik Odom adds, "It was the last day of main unit on the battlefield, and
been pretty serious up until that point. Carlisle cued it up perfectly calling
out to Aro, 'We're
gonna settle this through dance.' By the time we got Bill Condon in the middle
of our dance
circle, and he was throwing down with us."
"The music came on and it was a surprisingly good," admits Howard. "Everybody
sidelines was cheering and the look on Bill's face was worth all the work."
Laughs Bill Tangradi, "the dance ended up a little bit like the 'Thriller'
video, with people
coming together. We had Renesmee up on our shoulders dancing around. It was a
ending to a lot of tedious work, a great moment."
"This experience has brought out the theater geek in all of us," laughs
"It was just one of those things where you figure we're at summer camp and this
is the end of the
Stephenie Meyer loved the distraction, "There was still the hint of cow in
the breeze, and
one of benefits of being indoors was eliminated because the arena was not
That fluorescent green is oddly brutal and gives you headaches. For an indoor
set, it was really
challenging. So when we had all these happy-go-lucky vampires, who just want to
have a party, it made it so much easier."
A similarly secure, although smaller, base camp compound was created in
filming at the Cullen house, but the only vampire dancing that broke out was at
Next Production Note Section
Home | Theaters | Video | TV
Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
© 2018 37®, All Rights Reserved.