About The Production (Continued)
On May 5, cast & crew departed Hawaii to begin work in and around the Los Angeles area. Locations included Camarillo State Hospital, Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Fort MacArthur and the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, the US Coast Guard Lighthouse in Palos
Verdes, Van Nuys Airport, the Marine Air Corps Station in Tustin and Point Magu Naval Air Station and the US Naval Construction Battalion Center in Port
Hueneme. The show also spent time on the Disney Ranch in Newhall as well as on Stage #2 at the Disney Studios lot in Burbank. Other sites in Point Dume and Point
Magu, Pomona, Claremont, LaVerne, Somis and Glendale were also used.
In the middle of June, the company moved to Rosarito Beach, Baja, California for two weeks of filming much of the underwater photography in the film. The lot's giant tank was utilized to reenact the
capsizing of the USS Oklahoma and the sinking of the USS Arizona and USS West Virginia. Scenes taking place in the English Channel were completed in the smaller tank located at the south end of the lot.
John Frazier enlisted the expertise of an engineer on his crew, Ross Young, to design the giant gimbal which would hoist the bow of a ship through the many twists and turns required to reproduce the destruction of the U.S. fleet in battleship row Construction on the gimbal lasted eight weeks. Production designer Nigel Phelps and art director Martin Laing designed this ship piece after reviewing numerous historical photos and creating several miniature foam core models until they hit upon exactly what Bay envisioned. Construction coordinator Greg Callas and his crew built the monstrous set piece using 700,000 pounds of steel.
"The Oklahoma rolling over was one of the biggest set elements," explains Phelps. "We needed to see the ship lift up and slam down into the water. Michael also wanted to use the Arizona's gun turrets because it was such a haunting image in the reference pictures we found. We started off with illustrations, then made models and shot different angles with lipstick cameras until we knew what Michael wanted. John Frazier then made computerized versions of the models, which were much more refined.
"When you see the ships sitting in the empty tank and you look underneath these giant things, it's awesome," he says. "You just can't appreciate the engineering aspect of it when you see it sitting in the water because it looks like it's floating, but then again, that's the illusion we needed to create.
"We decided steel was the way to go in building just about everything because of the pounding the ships had to take. Michael could put tires where he wanted and the set would be a lot more durable, but it made everything heavier as well."
"The full scale ship was 150 feet," says Frazier. "It had to rise 25 degrees and then roll 180 degrees with over 150 sailors and stuntmen falling from the deck. It was really a remarkable feat."
Frazier also asked Young to design the airplane gimbal used to simulate the actors in flight. Looking more like a carnival ride, the gimbal set was erected on the coast in San Pedro to simulate the wide, open spaces over the Pacific Ocean. "This is probably the most sophisticated gimbal we've made," he says. "We thought we outdid ourselves with the ship gimbal and then along came this one. Essentially we just took the forward portion of a plane and stuck it onto the unit. The plane could pitch and yawl, go into a dive, look like it was crashing, or just look like it's cruising along."
Phelps credits set designer Jennifer Williams for making his sets look as authentic as they did. "She did
a beautiful job," he says. "She has a sensibility for period and detail. We were lucky to have her.
"We did a lot of research," P
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