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The Tree Of Life
To create the three worlds of "The Fountain” would require a group of expert craftsmen. Fortunately for Aronofsky, he assembled a team of artisans years ago at his own Protozoa Pictures. Many of those artists have worked on all of his films.

"Filmmaking is a family affair for us,” says Eric Watson. It is a sentiment echoed by the writer/director who assembled the cast and crew on the first day of principal photography to declare, "Everyone here is a filmmaker.”

"When we did ‘π,' there were eight people so it was really easy to create that family atmosphere,” muses Watson. "Darren's mother was there, bringing bagels to the set every morning. Now, suddenly, there are 300 people around but you still have to work to make it an intimate process. If you don't connect with your crew and your actors, then how are they going to understand what you're trying to accomplish?”

Aronofsky clearly provides his entire staff of filmmakers with the tools to create a familiar language—an almost "inside” way of communicating.

"I've never been on a set like this,” says Weisz. "Darren has worked with the same cinematographer and the same production designer on almost all his movies. When you're on-set with them, you feel completely supported. And you also feel like you're walking into some hotbed of creativity with all these bright minds around you.”

The director would also take the time to nurture his actors. "He's definitely an actor's director,” adds Weisz. "Darren rehearses for weeks before he starts filming and he pushes us on-set. There were days when Hugh and I would be sitting there crying, thinking we've just given the best performance we could give, and Darren would say, ‘Okay, let's do it again, right away.' So we'd do the scene again, over and over. Darren pushes you to the point where you're no longer conscious of what you're doing so you end up with a truly authentic performance. For an actor, that's just heaven. It's exactly what you want from your director.”

"I trust him,” attests Jackman. "He's a general by nature. But he also has this generosity of spirit. He wants everyone to collaborate. He encourages the entire crew to make the film their own. Darren makes it clear that we are all telling this story together.” "Every department is charged with furthering the thematic intention of the story,” adds Handel. "It doesn't matter if you are working in costume, lighting, props—it all goes toward telling the best story we can tell.”

Making ‘The Fountain' wasn't unlike making three short films, each equally grand in scope. "The first part is very mythical, with the conquistadors in Spain, and this beautiful and mysterious queen. Then the middle story—the one that takes place in present day—is the kind of material the actors could really sink their teeth into, it contains the most emotionally complex scenes to play. And the third part, with Tom sailing through this gorgeous spacescape toward a glittering nebula, is a metaphysical, almost psychedelic journey,” details the director. "It was really fun for us because every few weeks we'd get to sink our teeth into a new millennium with new challenges.”

Describing the environment during filmmaking, Burstyn says, "It was like walking through an eclectic crafts village. There were people making Mayan jewelry and other people building a spaceship. The sets being created were for all three phases of the film, past, present and future. It was just so original. I loved it.”

The story would require great efforts by Aronofsky's collaborators to create links in all three periods of the film. Working with director of photography Matthew Libatique, production designer James Chinlund, editor Jay Rabinowitz, special effects supervisors Jeremy Dawson and Dan Schrecker, special makeup effects supervisor Adrien Morot, costume design

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