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GHOST RIDER

About The Production
Like the comic book series on which it is based, the film version of Ghost Rider combines humor and darkness with the western and superhero genres, as well as the world of motorcycle stunt riding. "I thought a supernatural western was a really cool idea and something I had never seen before,” says Johnson. "So I tried to take the best I could from the Sergio Leone films, like Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dollars, and combine them with the aesthetics of the old classic Hammer Films horror movies.” P

roducer Gary Foster notes that from the first moment, the filmmakers were committed to creating a striking film that lived up to the comic's memorable imagery. "The film had to have a huge visual impact,” he says. "We wanted to make a film that wasn't dark or edgy, but fun, and part of that is creating this very cool world.”

It fell to production designer Kirk Petruccelli to turn Johnson's vision into a reality. Petruccelli – no stranger to the superhero milieu – has credits that include Blade, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and its sequel, and even the superhero send-up Mystery Men. "Kirk is an amazing production designer,” says Johnson. "He created a whole look, a whole style that was totally unique. Each time we walked onto a new set, everyone in the cast and crew just stopped and stared.”

As he began plotting out the film's overall look, Petruccelli says he turned first to the source material. "I tried to capture the spirit of the comic, which itself is so cinematic. What I pulled from it is how much power Ghost Rider has and the effect he and the other villains have on the environment. It is a very impact-oriented comic. As a result there are very few thin, feminine lines. It's more robust and hard-edged. And when someone is smashing into the ground, a car, or anything else, you have a major impact.”

Seeking a production venue that could credibly stand in for the wide-open vistas of the American high desert, as well as the seedy side streets and glass-and- steel downtown of a contemporary western city, the filmmakers decided to shoot in Melbourne, Australia.

Foster says that it was one of Melbourne's often-overlooked aspects that made it the perfect choice for Ghost Rider. "One of the reasons that we chose Melbourne was the city's alleyways,” says Foster. "They were great – exactly what we needed. As for Melbourne itself – the central business district worked really well for us in creating a large Texas city. There was a huge amount of variety in Melbourne that allowed us to really play with the various locations.”

Adds executive producer E. Bennett Walsh: "All the places we filmed in the city were within a 20-block radius of each other, so it was very compact and very economical. Melbourne just seemed to fit and they were very open to us coming in to film there and made any filming we did on the streets very easy.”

The Australian port city and its environs gave Petruccelli plenty to work with as he created the world inhabited by Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider. Among the notable locations was an ancient cemetery with a spectacular collection of headstones that served as the eerie home of Caretaker. "It was one of those rare, quite incredible locations,” says Petruccelli. "We actually changed the storyline a little to adopt it.”

Petruccelli and his team also used the Melbourne Showgrounds, whose old Victorian grandstand became the stadium for Johnny and Barton Blaze's motorcycle stunt act.

place, Petruccelli created a massive set: "It's a town that's been forgotten and has become the most vicious place on earth – hell on earth to be exact. So the design needed to reflect both decay and destruction.”

The man charged with capturing Petruccelli's realization of Johnson's vision was director of photography Russell Boyd ACS. Boyd says t

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