Hollywood of Europe
After filming completed
in California, the Triple-X company was off to the "Hollywood
of Europe," the ancient, magnificent capital of the Czech
Republic...Prague. This city of spires, red-tile roofs, cathedrals and castles
has become one of the world's most popular locations, but all too often
doubles for other cities. This time, Prague would most definitely be playing
itself, with Cohen, director of photography Dean Semler, AM, ACS, ASC and the
crew taking full advantage of the city's historic and atmospheric cobblestone
streets, twisting alleyways, soaring cathedrals and superb architecture that
spans the centuries.
designer Gavin Bocquet and director of photography Semler discovered a stunning
array of locations, in the heart of Prague, the countryside and far south in the
province of Moravia. Bocquet had worked in Prague twice before, as the
production designer of Steven Soderbergh's Kafka and an episode of
George Lucas' The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He knew the
city well, but there was so much more to discover. "The projects I'd done
in Prague were very period based, and I always wanted to return to work on a
film that was more contemporary," Bocquet notes.
Dean Semler was also
excited to film Prague in a way that it never had been before: "I think
that much of what we've been seeing are period stories with gaslight and
candlelight, which tend to be softer. We're playing a full-on contemporary
piece here, which allows us to give the city a different look. We're lighting
a lot of historical interiors with full-on flourescence and neon, which give
them a look they've never had before."
Filming in the brutally
cold Prague winter began in a filthy ground floor apartment (made even more so
by the art department)--Xander's "home" in Prague--in the narrow
passages of Liliova Street in Prague's Stare Mesto (Old Town). Then it was on
to the Eastern Czech mountain burg of Celna--quite literally almost the middle
of nowhere--where the filmmakers had discovered a crumbling, de-sanctified
150-year-old church which was converted by Gavin Bocquet into one of the unique
Anarchy 99 nightclub locations. Here, Cohen summoned German electro/metal band
Rammstein--superstars in Europe--to recreate one of their highly visual
concerts, replete with roaring flames, eccentric costumes and outer-limits
makeup, as a backdrop to the film's opening sequence, which sets up the story.
Hundreds of Czech extras, appropriately attired by costume designer Sanja
Milkovic Hays and the hair and makeup department, were actual Rammstein fans
recruited from their most recent performance in Prague, so little acting was
required to cheer on their favorite band.
Another concert scene,
a full-tilt rave featuring the popular British techno-duo Orbital (another nod
by Rob Cohen to authentic European popular culture)—performing a song they
composed especially for the film--was shot in a bizarre Soviet-era electronic
testing station north of Prague, which Bocquet describes as "looking like
something out of a 1950s Russian science fiction movie." Cohen decided to
match the backdrop with the drama that unfolds in the sequence. "It's all
about electricity, both the techno-rave location and what's happening between
Xander and Yelena."
A bewildering number of
historic locations were utilized by the filmmakers for XXX. The
extraordinary exterior and Baroque rotunda of the State Castle of Vranov and
Dyji was utilized as the headquarters of Anarchy 99. Originally built in the
11th century, the castle was reconstructed in 1687 by Austrian architect Johann
Bernhard Fischer, painter Johann Michael Rottmayr and sculptor Lorenzo Mattieli,
but none of them could possibly imagine that through the magic of the XXX
art department, and then Joel H
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