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SWORDFISH

About The Stunts
The film's intricate, elaborate and dangerous stunt sequences presented unique challenges to the crew, and demanded the collaboration of the visual effects, stunts and special effects departments. "There's a kind of synergy when all this talent comes together to do something that hasn't been done before," says visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis. "Or, to give a familiar visual a new twist or take it to a new level. It makes it very exciting."

Jeff Mann, who collaborated with director Dominic Sena on "Gone in 60 Seconds" and many of his music videos and commercials, was instrumental in creating the film's finale — an incredible stunt involving a Sikorski helicopter and a bus full of hostages. "At the climax of the film, Gabriel has loaded the hostages on the bus and they are surrounded by SWAT teams," Mann explains. "There doesn't seem to be any way out. I envisioned a spectacular escape that Gabriel and his operatives would have planned months before. This massive sky crane appears like some huge insect and swoops down, plucking them off the ground and depositing them on the roof of a skyscraper."

At the time Mann pitched the idea to Sena, they didn't know if it was actually feasible to do the scene physically. "When we started to do the research," says Mann, "we were taking a 7,000-pound liberty."

Mann met with representatives from Erickson Sky Crane, a firm that specializes primarily in putting out fires, transporting lumber and positioning large air conditioning units on very tall buildings. To execute such tasks, the company designed a custom rig that counter-balances and stabilizes heavy equipment so it doesn't twist dangerously while being hoisted through the air.

After numerous discussions, the filmmakers decided that it was feasible to fly a bus through downtown L.A. using the special crane, but there were too many liabilities and insurance issues to set the bus down on an actual rooftop. After initially considering a graphic solution, it was decided it would be simpler to build a rooftop set.

Mann created an exact replica of a downtown rooftop and built it in the mountains above Chatsworth. One of the considerations in choosing the location was that they needed a clear vista looking west and south.

In order to pull off the unprecedented flying bus stunt, explains Boyd Shermis, "We did a pre-visualization of the bus's flight path by creating a very detailed version of the area, in a virtual sense, so we could literally put ourselves on top of any number of buildings along that pathway and know exactly what we were going to see and how we could place the cameras."

Shermis placed a virtual camera on just about every rooftop along the bus's flight path and was able to give director Sena a range of options in terms of their positions and lenses. "There were legions of cameramen," says Sena. "It was sort of like Napoleon's army. We had 14 or 16 cameras shooting at a time."

The day finally arrived and the filmmakers' dream became reality. The massive sky crane sat in a downtown parking lot as the crew looked on expectantly. As the rotor blades began to rotate, an ungodly noise filled the air and spectators covered their ears. The huge machine slowly rose and dust and debris filled the air. It hovered above the bus as the cables were attached. As it swept by base camp, a violent wind buffeted the onlookers and they turned away covering their faces trying to stay upright as the wind reached almost hurricane force.

"This thing would knock you to the ground and just hold you there," Sena notes with a laugh. "The rotors seemed to be about 80 feet across, and the rotor wash was devastating if you were under it. I made the mistake of doing that once as it was hovering to take off on North Hope, and it

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