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VAN HELSING

About The Production
Writer/director/producer Sommers, producer/editor Ducsay and executive producer Sam Mercer continued to seek the best and brightest in equally pivotal roles behind the camera. To create the enormous, populous landscapes conjured in the screenplay, a mighty village-size team of motion picture artisans (final ranks numbered upwards of 1,000 crewmembers) were brought together, including: five-time Academy Award®-nominated director of photography Allen Daviau; previous production designer on both Mummy films, BAFTA-nominated Allan Cameron; Oscar® winner for her costumes in Age of Innocence, Gabriella Pescucci; Grammy-winning and Oscar®- nominated composer (and The Mummy Returns veteran) Alan Silvestri; Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) visual effects supervising gurus, multiple Academy Award®- nominated SCOTT SQUIRES and BEN SNOW; special effects makeup team KEITH VANDERLAAN, multiple Oscar® winner GREG CANNOM, and BRIAN SIPE; stunt coordinator R.A. RONDELL; and longtime collaborator of Sommers and Ducsay, second unit director GREG MICHAEL, along with countless others.

Sommers knew that this massive, action-oriented, period-set project (calling for more than 70 sets) would require well-oiled, symbiotic relationships between every production department. He offers, "I have a hard time classifying this movie. It's got action, adventure and an epic drama, along with tons of special effects. It's very much an ‘all hands on deck' kind of movie.”

The decision to shoot primary location work in Prague came about for a variety of reasons. Ducsay elaborates, "We shot just slightly over half of the film in Prague, using practical locations there, along with soundstage work. We were able to take advantage of situations where we needed extras, and Prague offered us a number of things we wanted: cold, gloomy weather for the exterior shots; an incredible pool of extras with the right regional look; and the existing and amazing structures that date back centuries.” Executive producer Sam Mercer adds, "We were able to take advantage of the culture and history that's so readily available. Much of the architecture and some of the customs from 150 years ago—when our story is set—still exist here. We wanted to take our audiences into this world, and Prague provided it.”

But while some locations could fit into Sommers' fantastical vision of 19th century Europe, a great many of the sets would have to be constructed, some on location in the Czech Republic at Prague's Barrandov and Prague Studios and some on Southern Californian soundstages: Playa Vista Stages in Los Angeles (500,000 square-feet of former Hughes Aircraft Corporation hangars) and Downey Studios in Downey, CA (250,000 square-feet of a former NASA/Boeing facility). Perhaps most spectacular was the re-creation of an entire Transylvanian village, built in Kunratice, just outside of Prague, that harkens back to the medieval period, replete with town square, two graveyards and more than a dozen hyper-Gothic structures, including a steepled church. Ducsay comments, "The largest soundstage sets that we have are at Downey Studios—the interior of Castle Dracula's entrance hall, along with the two towers and its bridge. Dracula's entrance hall was built outdoors as an exterior because the set is so large, but it's actually an interior set. We had to shoot there only at night, because the scenes involving the set don't take place in the daytime.”

Cameras started rolling at Prague's Barrandov Studios in January, 2003, on the constructed set of the clandestine armory, where Van Helsing receives not only his marching orders, but his arsenal and assistant, Carl. The cast and crew continued with additional soundstage work before setting down on their first location in the massive interior of a 15th century fortress roughly 90 kilometers outside of Prague in Tabor; the setting is the hea

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