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Chasing Trains
"One of the biggest challenges on the film was how to deal with all of the train work," comments McAllister. "We had lengthy meetings with the Transit Authority, going through the script and talking about what is possible and what isn't possible on their property. We were able to start some of the climbing up on the actual El structures at Wells and Monroe, under very strict parameters. Everything got dissected into, literally, what are the shots that we need, and how can we achieve them?"

Filmmakers built their own train car from the ground up at Cinespace. "Because the train car worked in multiple locations, it was easier to build the train car and make it mobile, so that we could take it with us around Chicago to set pieces that we have on the ground," explains McAllister.

The train ride from the just after the Choosing Ceremony to entering the Dauntless compound is a composite of work filmed at six different locations. "I wanted people to really to be jumping on the trains, to really be running and struggling to get on," says Burger. "I wanted them to be jumping off a real train, so we actually built our own train and laid out hundreds of feet of track. Shai and Theo are really running alongside and jumping on. It was really hard and trains are big and they're dangerous and they're going fast, but the whole idea was to do it real and to have it be messy."

"Neil also wanted to find places where we could do some of our set work in an active environment that's true," says McAllister. "We built a small section of the El structure at Federal Street and Printers Row for when they climb up on to the El platform to wait for the train. We were able to get a section of our track in a Skyscraper canyon and get some of the real city environment around the actors."

"When it came time to jump off across a wall onto the Dauntless rooftop, we first set the distance from the train to the wall at six feet with the train driving at eight miles an hour. We hired about twelve stunt people that could do it. However, on the day Neil asked to go even bigger and more scary. So we moved the train out to seven feet and two people weren't able to make it. Then we went even another foot further. A lot of the performers said they could do eight feet, and some of them are actually world champion Parkour people. So we moved it out to eight feet, and drove the train at twelve miles per hour. Only about eight of the twelve stunt performers made it. Those four people are factionless now," laughs Warren.

"We had all these different pieces of the train footage and the incredible work putting the sequences together begins with visual effects supervisor Jim Berney and his team, and with the editors Richard Francis-Bruce and Nancy Richardson. They make it make sense and look completely real, so you can't even put your finger on what's really there and what isn't," says Burger.

In the film, stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James are clearly jumping on and off the train. "I'm not surprised that she's able to do as much as she has. I'm surprised with how fast she recovers because to run and catch a train at twelve miles an hour is exhausting, and to do that all day long is twice as exhausting," comments Warren. "I guarantee your body is sore the next day. Shai comes back in and she's ready to go. She's tough as nails."

"Shailene is number one on our call sheet and she is in every scene. It's a challenge because you can't give her a break. Shai is wonderful, but the workload is a lot of work for one person. But, she's always happy. She's working with stunts. She's working with trains. Shai is in great shape physically, but when we're doing the train work, she ran back and forth probably 40 times. It's exhausting just watching her."

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