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WITHOUT A PADDLE

About The Production
Director of photography Jonathan Brown says the natural environment provided opportunities for capturing great beauty on screen and presented some challenges.

"Because this is such an outdoor movie, and because tight scheduling called for shooting rain or shine, we filmed scenes in the rain when it was supposed to be sunny, recalls Brown ("Cheaper by the Dozen”). "Actually, it worked out well because we were in the deep forest and it just made it more moody and edgy. Besides, we were hoping to use the different weather conditions to help tell the story by showing that the guys are traveling through a bunch of different environments.”

Brown also remembers that the filmmakers wanted things to look natural and real with a heightened sense of reality. "For example, certain scenes were based on fantasy, like the girls in the tree house, so we backlit the shot to make it appear almost magical and we used a slow-moving camera,” says Brown. "The action sequences, on the other hand, are raw and frenetic, so we went to a handheld camera to add to the tension when the guys were going over the rapids.”

Brown's father, Garrett Brown, the inventor of the revolutionary Steadicam camera mount, visited the set and brought his latest camera device, the Superflycam. An ultra-lightweight stabilized 35mm wire-borne camera, it proved ideal for racing through forests, dropping down from the tree hut and swooping across white water on the rivers. A revolutionary device for shooting action sequences, the Superflycam is the only camera of its kind in the world and has been used on only four movies besides "Without a Paddle.”

For production designer Perry Andelin Blake, using the natural resources of the surroundings to make visual sense of the heroes' journey added a lot to the film as well. It also provided an emotional feel to their trials, tests and pitfalls.

"For some of the river scenes, we wanted the guys to be where the river is wide open so it feels like they're having a good time,” explains Blake. "Other times we chose parts of the river that were narrower to give the feeling that the situation was getting tighter, more constricted and more ominous.”

One set in which Blake could go to extremes was the tree house atop Earth Child. A beautifully handcrafted place, the tree house was made of wooden platforms roped together and finished off with basket-woven flax panels and enormous tie-dyed sails colored to look as if the girls had used natural dyes from berries. Sixties paraphernalia —crystals, dream-catchers, beads and a colorful parasol — all added to the hippie chicks' fantasy world.

In actuality, Blake and his team built two versions of the girls' tree house: one 60 feet up the huge 75-year-old redwood, which was used for the rappelling down sequences, and another that was cunningly engineered into a tree that was itself on the side of a hill. The second tree house could be entered and worked in easily from the ground-level side, offering a beautiful vista from the other side that looked out above the forest.

As for the childhood tree house the main characters used when they were kids, Blake built a more conventional structure in an old oak tree and decorated it with boy stuff such as hubcaps, license plates, Star Trek memorabilia, Kung Fu posters and sports idols.

"That was a lot of fun to do because I just thought about what stuff I liked when I was a 10-year-old,” recalls Blake. "To make sure I was on track, though, I brought in my own son who's about the same age and had him give his stamp of approval.”

Blake's other major set was Del's cabin, the mountain hideout Burt Reynolds' character had been living in for 30 years. "Because the story was that he had built the cabin himself from materials he found in the woods, we gave it a very rustic feel,” says Blake. "That meant we used unmilled timber with its bark still on, and we<

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