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Training the Dauntless
The first week of filming was spent in the sparring and training set that was about 380,000 square feet. "One of the amazing things about coming to Cinespace was walking around on the first day scouting and seeing there were three approximately 600-foot by 600-foot industrial warehouses, one of which was being converted into stages around us. We used one of them, the South Plant, to film the training fight scenes, when it was completely empty. It's very interesting to be in a place that has nothing in it at all. With that scale, people really do disappear at the other side of the building. Neil and I were very keen to use it as the fighting arena and take advantage of the perspective of such a large space," says Nicholson.

"The boxing arena and the lighting system that director of photography Alwin Kuchler and set decorator Anne Kuljian came up with to surround and highlight the rings within that space was really great and a huge challenge," Nicholson adds. "It was great to have the squares of light disappearing off into the distance of that scale."

The space made an impression on the actors on Day One of principal photography. "We walked into this giant warehouse and it was the coolest look. It's so minimal and raw and kind of dirty and gritty and dark. The Dauntless world became totally alive for me in that moment," says Amy Newbold who pays Molly. "These people are living in this completely utilitarian world. Everything was so detailed. We filmed there for a week on those mats that were set up on platforms. It was a giant, dirty, super cold warehouse so we were dying, but it was also nice to have the extra help of the discomfort factor. Everything's been so consistent. There's such a clear vision for this Dauntless world, that's shown up in every set."

Kuchler and the art department used LED and plasma lights as both working lights and set dressing in the Dauntless sets, which also served as a unifying element. "The most surprising thing for me on this film is how many warehouse and underground locations we have used," says set decorator Anne Kuljian. "The challenging part is to make these environments all seem interesting and different, but also to bring them all together, and the LED lights really helped with that."

"Alwin is a real artist. The movie looks beautiful because of him. He brings real artistry and intimacy to the look of the film," says Burger. "We didn't want it to be grim. We didn't want it to be bleak. We actually wanted it initially to have a sense of optimism and hope and luminosity, to have it almost be glowing. Alwin came up with amazing ways to do that. He questioned the nature of lighting in the future, and how do they use lighting. The LED lights that decorate most of Dauntless are almost like ribbons of light, like luminous paper. Alwin came up with incredibly beautiful ways to use that to light the corridors and the dorm and the dining hall, just to have these strips of LED lights around. It also goes to the story point the city doesn't have as many people as Chicago does now, and they are all conserving power."

"The LEDs have been a great collaboration between the lighting department and the art department, specifically set dressing as we have made quite a few lights specifically for the tattoo parlor, the pit, and the dining hall. We're actually making light fixtures that will be part of the set," says Kuljian. "

The inspiration for the LED neon came largely through Alwin and his collaboration with Anne, our set decorator," Nicholson adds. " We could order it in any width and in very long lengths. It puts out enough light that it'll register on camera and it doesn't look too traditional. Most lighting in the future would be LED anyway, and we're either using LEDs by concealing them or using in a way that was going to be unusual. Traditionally, LED lights don't give out enough light, but with the products that Anne found in the UK, we were able to use them as part of the lighting on people's faces. The LED lights became another element of identifying the Dauntless faction, as you will only see them in Dauntless."

Before setting foot on the sparring and training set, the Dauntless initiate actors arrived in Chicago about three weeks before shooting began for "boot camp." Producers hired renowned stunt coordinator Garrett Warren to oversee the stunt action in the film. Warren brought in his long-time collaborator, fight coordinator JJ Perry to help choreograph the fight sequences and train the actors.

"The two reasons why I took this movie are, number one, Neil Burger. I can't tell you how good of a director he is. He's truly a genius," says Warren. "The other reason is my 14-year-old daughter, who told me 'Dad, I am Tris. I don't fit in anywhere. I'm Divergent.' When I heard that, I knew that was something that I had to take an interest in. I thought I could put a spin on the action and make it a little bit bigger and a little bit badder, than just a tween movie."

"JJ Perry is my fight choreographer and he's a fantastic fight guy," states Warren. "Taekwondo champion, when we did the boot camp, he brought that Fort Bragg flavor. Even though this is not a military movie, we still wanted them to have that soldier mentality. We had 300 people that we had to teach to move like they know what they're doing, JJ cordoned them off into platoons and had them all doing drills. It was great. One of things that I liked the most was the fact that we had Theo James head up the training process in boot camp. That way, no one would ever see him as his or her equal. Four would always be their leader."

"I wanted all the Dauntless actors-main cast and background-to go through a boot camp," says Burger. "There's a fearlessness to Dauntless and a wildness to it and a freedom to it. I wanted to make sure that they had the military side down. Garrett and JJ created this whole regime where they learned to fight, to shoot, to walk, to hold themselves, and to run like Dauntless."

Warren adds, "I had worked with Neil before on Limitless, and he asked me to come up with another inventive and ingenious fight style. We used a couple of ways to make this different. First, stance. Everyone usually has a regular fighting stance with hands up. I used to be a professional fighter and one of the things that I used to do was drop my front hand and keep my back hand up. That isn't something special but we adjusted it to more of a futuristic look where we have the two hands, in a folded capacity, in front. I stole that from George Foreman. He was always able to block and cover himself so we derived that Dauntless fighting style from his. Secondly, instead of a regular punch, Dauntless use the hammer fist, because it generates a little more velocity, a little more force, a little more torque, and it also saves the boney prominences on your hand."

"Neil really is that old school Hollywood director, who wants the actors to do as much as humanly possible," comments Warren. "We really did take a painstaking amount of prep, especially Shailene. We had her training for about a month and a half before the movie started filming on how to do this interesting fighting style. It wasn't easy. Not just for her, but for everyone else."

Before Shailene Woodley was even officially hired, fight coordinator JJ Perry was asked to evaluate her skills and took her to a Los Angeles gym and the LA S.W.A.T. gun range. "We needed to know how far she needed to progress, because we didn't have a lot of time. Shai had never been in a fight before. The way she turned herself over to the training was impressive. All the sit-ups and pull-ups are on screen as you watch her transformation from Beatrice to Tris," says Perry.

"As much as we choreograph the fights, we also want it to be very organic," says Warren. "When we film the fight, we might adapt it on the set with Neil. Because we've drilled that choreography into them and made it second nature, they can adapt in the moment."

"The fight training was tough but invaluable," says Ben Lloyd-Hughes. "Boot camp was an exciting couple of weeks. We were in some pain, but we survived. It was a good team bonding. I used to play rugby and it's always good to have a coach pushing you further. These guys can make you achieve more physically than you would do on your own."

"I came to Chicago thinking I was in shape," laughs Zoe Kravitz. "The fight training was hard and it definitely shocked me. I wasn't really mentally or physically prepared. I saw all these punching bags when we first walked in. We ran a mile and did fifty pushups, even before we started learning our choreographed fight-swipe, block, hit. We had to do a lot of Muay Thai, using your elbows and knees. We had to learn it from the ground up. We got to throw knives. JJ Perry is the coolest guy, ex- military-this guy is the real deal, so I knew I had to listen to him. The training was intense everyday, definitely a wakeup call. JJ made us do it with our eyes closed, so by the time we ended up filming it, we did it so fast. I had a fight with Amy, who plays Molly, who is a much bigger girl than I am. I'm very short and had to figure out how I would get a punch in."

Kravitz also had to prepare to hang over the chasm in the Dauntless pit when Christina is dangled by Eric. "We made her do pull-ups and chin-ups to try and get in shape to hang there for several minutes," says Warren. "She was tough, and she did a great job. At one point, Zoe was holding on to the side of the metal bridge, and Neil was adamant, 'I want to see you hang by yourself.' And she did. Big props to my girl Zoe. She was definitely hanging and all that struggle is real."

Amy Newbold, who plays Molly, laughs, "I found that I really like fighting. I didn't have a lot of experience but I really dig it. It comes really naturally to me. It was fun to learn something that was different from if I went to a normal martial arts gym. All the workouts were really hard, but I had a great time. I had fights with both Shailene and Zoe - they are so fun and so feisty. It was nice to really take ownership of those fights and make them ours. I loved it. I am so much bigger than both of them. I'm six foot one, so I was hyper aware of that the whole time you're fighting. I don't want to break anybody. But, we never come anywhere close to really hurting each other. A couple of times, in the heat of the moment when you get worked up, a punch gets thrown. I got hit in the nose once. It's awesome with so much adrenaline going, but it's very different than real fighting. I have never actually been in a real fight."

Perry had worked with Theo James on Underworld: Awakening and knew the actor had the physical skills to play Four. "I came onto this project already knowing Theo has the mentality of a professional stunt man."

Warren agrees, "Theo's great. Theo did all the fights with no stunt double. Theo truly embodies the whole Four character. He's a gentleman. He is very quiet spoken and strong natured. He is born to be a leader. One of the fights that you see him do is at the very beginning of the training sequences, and he's fighting this fellow Dauntless teacher. We wanted to establish the fighting style then and there. Theo came to me and wanted to do it all himself. He came in every day, and he would stay even after the actors would leave and work on it by himself, even if no one else was there. Working on the hitting bag and so forth, and he also went out and got his own personal trainer to do Muay Thai with after hours. I give Theo an awful lot of credit. He's a real strong character and a real strong guy. He's one of us. He's not just in to do a little bit. He wants to learn and live that lifestyle of a stunt performer."

"I wanted Four to be stronger and faster than everyone else," shares James. "Four is some kind of ninja legend, so I wanted to be in a place where I physically seemed older and mature. Four needs to seem superior because he's an officer, above these kids who are coming in. Although they are similar in age, he's teaching them, so he has to have that sense of authority. I incorporated some of my own boxing background, and that style of movement into the way that he moves, so it felt as natural and real as possible. JJ and Garrett are excellent. Consummate professionals."

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