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ANACONDAS

The Look Of Anacondas
Everybody was in agreement that for the movie to be as effective as possible, the visual element was crucial. Director Dwight Little worked closely with production designer Bryce Perrin and director of photography Stephen F. Windon to sift through ideas for how the movie should look.

Says Little, "Certainly I wanted it to be moody and atmospheric. I was inspired by certain articles and photographs in National Geographic that depict the life of some of the indigenous people in the Brazilian rain forest, people who are almost untouched by the western world. There's a kind of mist in the jungle, a softness of the light and a smokiness from all the fires they burn. I felt very passionate about those photographs – they were my inspiration and that's the look I wanted to create.”

The next source of inspiration was Fiji itself. As Harrah explains, "We really liked the idea that we would be in Fiji when it was cooler and that we'd have some rain – we wanted that darker, more mysterious look. We start out very bright and sunny and then go into a much darker, gloomier look as the film progresses and the characters become more and more scared. It gets darker and darker as we get into the cave and then the sinkhole – shooting in the dark and in the rain made it feel even more frightening.”

The biggest challenge for the design team was building Bill's boat, The Bloody Mary – a marvel of seafaring dilapidation. Production designer Bryce Perrin had never designed a boat before but rose to the challenge. "This one had to look like it was very old and falling apart, but still be safe enough to film on and to withstand going into the water,” says Perrin. "We had to put trusses inside the boat so we could cradle it in different places.”

Little calls the boat an engineering feat. "The rivers are very shallow in Fiji so the boat had to be designed around that. It was remarkable that we were able to get such a sizeable boat into all our locations – we would never have achieved that with a real boat.”

Perrin says that the Bloody Mary was inspired by the African Queen, from the famous Humphrey Bogart/Katharine Hepburn film. "There's a little bit of the romance of an old jungle cruise boat, and yet it's also a very practical salvage vessel because Bill runs contraband up and down the river. The boat is all patched together out of old tires, plastic and iron and whatever else he has salvaged.”

Filming on water is never easy, and Little thankfully knew that, having previously made the killer whale sequel Free Willy 2. The preparation is akin to getting ready for a sea battle, explains Little. "Basically you have to bring everything out on the river on huge barges and pontoons, from the lights and cameras to all the support gear. You end up looking like a small armada! You lead with the picture boat with the Bloody Mary behind, tailing up to thirty other boats, each carrying a different department. It's a very complex operation. We filmed on the Navua River in Fiji and the Fijian river captains and boat people were a tremendous asset.”

One of the most harrowing scenes involves The Bloody Mary going over a waterfall, spilling its occupants into the rapids. Bravely, the entire cast agreed to work in the rapids to add an authenticity that would not have been possible using stunt players. Says Johnny Messner, who plays the boat's owner Bill: "It was a very intense day. It was exhausting trying to fight those currents but it was fun at the same time. We all lined up and linked arms – you really had to rely on the person next to you or you were going to go under. There were cameras in the water and we were rushing right at them. But it's great footage.”

Says director Little, "We created quite a lot of whitewater and the actors had to swim through a pretty heavy current to get to the shore. But they all got right into it. It never looks the same with stunt people

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