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BATMAN BEGINS

About The Production
Batman Begins commenced principal photography in March 2004. Over the course of 129 shooting days, the production filmed on location in Iceland, Chicago and London, on soundstages at Britain's famous Shepperton Studios, and at Cardington, a former airship hangar converted into a mammoth soundstage for the film, before wrapping in September. 

The film's lengthy shooting schedule was due in part to director Christopher Nolan's decision not to use a second unit director, a standard filmmaking arrangement in which a portion of a production's action and establishing shots are overseen by another crewmember while the director focuses on principal photography. Nolan's thorough, meticulous approach ensured a consistency of his vision for the film, in which realism underscores every aspect of the ambitious production, from design to stunts to special effects. 

"Chris' drive for realism made the production more challenging in some respects, and easier in others,” says producer Larry Franco. "The difficult part was the actual shooting process, which is always grueling, but even more so when you're trying to film things practically and not rely heavily on CGI. But at the end of the day, it was easier because we weren't forced to manufacture something out of nothing in post-production.” 

To this end, the filmmakers used a combination of practical locations, sets built on soundstages, miniatures and minimal CGI effects to create the world of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

"We used a lot of miniatures on this film, as opposed to CGI,” says production designer Nathan Crowley, referring to the miniature-scale versions of sets created to flesh out the story's numerous environments and facilitate the creation of dynamic visuals. "We started with existing architecture, whether it was a location, a set or a miniature, and then enhanced it with visual effects, because you can't beat real life – nothing looks as good.” 

"The peak of visual effects is to produce shots that look real, and the best way you can do that is to shoot as much of it for real as possible,” adds visual effects supervisor Dan Glass.

Production commenced atop the Vatnajokull Glacier in the South East of Iceland. (The biggest glacier in Europe, the Vatnajokull glacier comprises one tenth of the country's entire land mass.) "We were very fortunate to find this location, where we could look one way and see ocean, and then when we turned 180 degrees, it looked like we were standing at 20,000 feet,” Franco says.

Iceland's rugged, rocky terrain was perfectly suited to scenes set against the story's harsh Himalayan environs, including Bruce Wayne's grueling swordfight with his mentor Ducard on a frozen lake and their violent slide down an icy mountainside; a small village that Crowley's art department constructed on the mountain; and the mammoth entrance to a monastery that serves as a training facility for the mysterious League of Shadows.  "I really enjoyed filming in Iceland,” Liam Neeson says. "It was strange to be in a section of the world where there wasn't a tree in sight or a sign of a bird anywhere. It was like a gorgeous Becket wasteland.”

Because there is only one two-lane highway that runs through the country, the construction crew had to build a road in order to access the frozen lake and the areas used for staging the village and monastery façade. (A miniature set was utilized for portraying the full breadth of the monastery; only the entrance was constructed at full-scale to film Bruce Wayne's arrival at the compound.)

"In the portion of the film that we shot in Iceland, you'll see a raging storm,” producer Charles Roven says. "It's not a pretend storm. It's not a CGI storm. We filmed in 75-mile-an-hour winds. There were crew people who were literally blown off their feet. But with Chris, you never stop shooting.”

"Iceland

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