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GHOST SHIP

About The Production (Continued)
"Let's not keep the lady waiting, guys.”

In characteristically sinister Dark Castle style, Ghost Ship is rife with tension from beginning to end.  At its core, the film is a haunted house story set on the open sea, and the production design for the Antonia Graza sets needed to invoke an appropriately unsettling atmosphere. 

"These characters are not simply trapped in a dangerous situation that they have to escape from,” Silver emphasizes.  "They're literally in the middle of nowhere.  There's no help coming and there's no way to escape.  The sets are crucial in creating an extremely menacing, foreboding sense of being trapped not only on the ship, but in the vastness of the ocean.”

Early on, the filmmakers made the decision not to film onboard an actual ship.  "The temptation was always to shoot on the real thing,” Beck says.  "We actually visited a few of them, but every time we thought, ‘How are we ever going to get a dolly through this alley? Or down this hallway?'  When you're shooting you often have to punch through a wall in order to get the shot you need, and on a steel ship that's impossible.  We knew the real thing would be far too limiting.”

Instead, they decided to build a ship of their own.  Finding a production designer who could rise to this unique challenge was key. "Our production designer, Grace Walker, built some truly incredible sets,” says Silver.  "We first see this majestic ocean liner in all its glory, then we see it after it has been sitting derelict in the ocean for forty years, and it's believable in both of its incarnations.  It's an amazing transformation.” 

Walker, whose credits include Queen of the Damned and The Island of Dr. Moreau, says that constructing the various parts of an ocean liner was an enormous undertaking.  "I've never been asked to build a ship before – it was very interesting!  Among the sets we built were a life-size foredeck and bow, an engine room and an elaborate ballroom.” 

The Antonia Graza's bridge was one of the director's favorite set pieces.  "I think it is atmospheric, very bizarre and creepy – it has the air of a graveyard,” says Beck.  "I was thrilled with the entire design work.”

Walker also enjoyed creating the ship's opulent ballroom.  "All the ocean liners of the day had fantastic ballrooms that were extraordinary in their detail – they employed Italian designers to transform their ships into works of art.  We modeled ours on the Andrea Doria, which was one of the great Italian liners of the 1950s.  The design was just magnificent, and we had a good deal of reference books that we were able to draw from.” 

Parts of the sets were actually used out on the open seas, so it was imperative that the design met certain criteria.  "We enlisted the assistance of naval architects,” says Walker, "to help us with the design of the ship's hull, to make sure we got the shape right and that it would be seaworthy.” 

The ship's sizeable foredeck had to be built out on location.  "It was a full scale replica, so it wouldn't have fit into a studio,” Walker explains.  "It also needed to have sky backgrounds surrounding it, so we built it on a hill to achieve the desired effect.”

Another major challenge that Walker and company

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