AFTER EARTH -- Here on Earth
For the look of the film, Will Smith says that the filmmakers came up with an original solution for what an Earth, ruined and abandoned by humans, might look like. "Night had an idea: it's a thousand years in future, so there are no remnants left of man's design. It's completely back to nature," he says. "It's the Earth the way the Earth would be without man's hand. I think that gives the film a very eerie, beautiful texture of sparseness and danger."
With that in mind, the filmmakers sought locations with lush overgrowth. Production for the parts of the film set on a rejuvenated Earth would take place in two major locations: Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California and the Central American country of Costa Rica, where the filmmakers shot near the Arenal Volcano and the part of the Sarapiqui River that runs through the La Selva Biological Research Station. Other major locations included the desert near Moab, Utah, which would stand in for the humans' new home planet, Nova Prime, and soundstages in Philadelphia, where interior sets were built. In addition, the film's second unit shot glaciers in Iceland and filmed the Eiger in Switzerland.
"In some ways, it was like shooting four mini-movies -- it gives four different flavors," says Shyamalan. "The wonderful thing is, I think you feel it in the movie, because the movie keeps opening up for you, keeps it fresh."
Of course, finding locations on Earth in the 21st Century that seem untouched by human beings, but could also accommodate a film crew of more than 200, is not so easy. Production designer Tom Sanders hiked and drove for a period of several weeks, seeking out the specific areas that would work.
The result is that the locations are as much a part of the film as any other element. That was important for Will Smith. "When we shot Ali in Mozambique, I learned the value of actually going to a place and being submerged into the environment," says the producer. "There's a certain energy and attitude that gets set into your gut when you are in the actual environment, and I wanted Jaden to experience that."
One example -- one scene, shot in Costa Rica, required Jaden Smith to climb down out of a tree. "Well, Jaden is coming down the tree and he looks over and there's a monkey, a real monkey, sitting in the tree, watching him -- it startled Jaden a little, and they caught his reaction on camera," says Will Smith.
Filming near the Arenal Volcano was another way to get a sincere reaction out of Jaden Smith. "They put me next to a volcano and said, 'Don't worry, it stopped being active fourteen months ago. I was like, that didn't really take away the worry," he remembers. "It was fun, but it was hard to run up it, considering the fact that I thought it was going to erupt any second."
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