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DIVERGENT

Around Chicago Streets
Production shot extensively on city streets in and around "The Loop" in Chicago taking advantage of the iconic vistas and world-class architecture, that would be slightly altered in postproduction with additions like wind turbines on the sides of skyscrapers. "The visual effects in Divergent are subtle. We're taking the real city of Chicago a little bit into the future, but not so far out that your brain can't really wrap around it, but enough to where it makes it a little eerie," says senior visual effects supervisor Jim Berney. "Right away you're drawn into this world where you're not sure exactly what happened. Some buildings have some damage to them, so we know some event happened, but we don't know what it is. There are subtleties, something is just a little weird, but you can't put your finger on it."

In many cases, the art department and construction would only have a few hours overnight to transform the surface of the downtown blocks to future streets used primarily as pedestrian walkways. Multiple truckloads of gravel, dirt and moss would be brought in, and then removed in quick manner before and after filming.

Ashley Judd was impressed, "They've done a wonderful job of using existing recognizable Chicago cityscape but putting twists on it, adding coatings in films and tints to storefront windows or covering things with gravel. Just one little piece of grass shooting through, shabby-ing things up."

Location manager James R. McAllister comments, "Filming in the city can be difficult just by the nature of Chicago being such a large city and you're dealing with traffic and a lot of elements. But on this film we were able to shoot some locations that never been shot before, because of it being a Chicago author and an interesting project. We worked in areas that are very congested, but it's gone really smoothly because of enough planning."

"We're shutting down streets in Chicago. We're controlling traffic on some of the busiest places in downtown and the most wonderfully built buildings in the Midwest. We're giving people larger-than-life scope. Making the best parts of the book become extraordinary moments in the movie," adds Kelly.

"Neil selected many places that you would still see 150 years from now, and used them in an interesting way," says McAllister. "We shot the exterior of the high school at Pioneer Court near the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Point du Sable, which is where Chicago really started and it has always been a center point of the city. You've got to believe that 150 years from now it will still be a center of the city, so it seemed like a logical place for the high school. Outside of New York or maybe San Francisco, this is probably the busiest spot in the country, in terms of number of people on a weekend. We shot on a Sunday and I would gather there were between half a million to three-quarters of a million people that passed through. When we revealed the faction insignias above the doors of the high school, you could see all the cell phones coming out and taking pictures."

Other downtown filming locations included Lake and Milwaukee, West Marble Place, and the LaSalle Bridge. "We were also on Wacker Drive for some of establishing shots. We used many parts of Clark Street a lot, because it was very much about looking for canyons of cityscapes," says McAllister.

"We had to deal with many present-day elements like removing traffic signals, because there really is no traffic in this future version of the world. Also a lot of what I call street furniture: trashcans, bike racks, city street signs - the clutter had to be removed to give it a cleaner look," says McAllister. "When the Dauntless climbed the El structure, we removed about a dozen traffic signals, which meant we had to close the road to do it. A city crew of about twelve people at night ready to go with trucks to pull all of that down, and then put it right back up so that we could open the road again after filming."

The landing of the iconic zipline scene was shot at Clark and Monroe near Franklin. "I'm a very big fan of this zipline sequence through the city,' states Warren. "Ziplining is normally not a big deal, we see it all the time in forests, but you don't see it through the streets and the buildings of downtown Chicago. That's beautiful. We actually had someone about 80 feet up in the air flying through the buildings. There's an awful lot of effort that goes towards shooting this sequence to make it work."

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