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FIREWALL

Setting The Mood
Loncraine strove to set and sustain a noir-ish mood and keep the tension level high on Firewall. "I don't think you can call it classic film noir because no one smokes in it,” he jokes, "but there are definitely some dark moments in the styling.” 

"We really needed a director who could sustain a mood. Richard's sensitivity and creativity were invaluable," says Armyan Bernstein, readily acknowledging that, "these kinds of movies are never easy. You have to register every nuance and keep it all moving. You want the audience to feel the people they care about are in jeopardy. You want them wondering if it's all going to blow up and when it's all going to blow up, like ‘..now?... now?...maybe now,' and to keep them waiting, waiting, expecting. And then, of course, it all blows up.”

One of Loncraine's significant challenges was to instill menace into the story's homey, everyday settings; not mysterious and shadowy corridors but familiar, well-lit places where most of us comfortably spend our daily lives. 

"If you have someone creeping down an alley with a knife and there's a child up ahead in the lamplight, it's not difficult to make that tense,” he illustrates. "But if you have a man at a computer, talking on the phone to someone sitting calmly on the sofa at his house but who could very well put a gun to his child's head at any moment, that's harder. The challenge was to charge these home and office environments with danger. We used their mundane quality against them. If you can't be safe in your own living room, then where?” 

From the opening montage, audiences are presented the disturbing image of a sanctuary breached. We watch, through the eyes and ears of unknown observers, the daily interactions within the Stanfield home via surveillance vantage points hidden in the foliage outside. "We shot it all on DV cameras and video, high 8 and 8mm so it has an unprofessional look – in fact, we did it as badly as we could,” Loncraine explains. "Nobody directed it. I wanted jerky frames, blurriness, crash zooms and audio that sounds like tapped phone lines.” 

Loncraine went on to employ a number of subtle atmospheric details to heighten the tension and, says Basil Iwanyk, "to make the audience feel a little bit as unsettled and uncomfortable as the characters they're watching. He creates a sense of claustrophobia.”

Says Loncraine, "there's a lot that takes place in two and a half rooms. You have this family trapped in their own home and as many as five kidnappers right there with them – no privacy, no freedom at all – on top of which, rain keeps hammering on the windows and the roof.”

The rain, one of the things Seattle is best known for, was manufactured and regulated on the Canadian locations by special effects coordinator Tony Lazarowich (Elf, Scary Movie 3) who estimates using a total 280,000 gallons, including about 140,000 just for the Stanfield house over a six-week period. Among Lazarowich's responsibilities was protecting the house – a Brian Hemingway-designed, one-of-a-kind waterfront home in Lions Bay, B.C. – and avoiding flooding the property from run-off, a considerable effort considering that they laid 20 to 30 rain towers (made by the crew to hold and spray) on the roof and hid additional towers in surrounding trees. 

Downtown scenes around Jack's office required a system of "rain trusses” supported by 80-ton cranes that sprawled a full city block. But, as impressive as sheer volume can be, Lazarowich notes that often what they needed most were a few well-placed droplets. "Richard used the rain for mood in very specific ways” he says, "sometimes lighter and sometimes heavier. Marco [director of photography Marco Pontecorvo] and I would take time to manipulate one or two rain drops so they would hit Harrison's face at just the right angle.”

Injecting his own sense of black h

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