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Shaking Up The Action On Location
Filming began on "Next” in spring at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California, which doubled for the generic Las Vegas casino where Cris gambles in the film. "Morongo was great to us,” says producer Garner. "They gave us a lot more freedom and access there, than if we had shot in Las Vegas.” After two weeks of shooting there, the company moved to Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead for the exterior of the film's Cliffhanger Motel, as well as its outdoor mountain sequences.

Veteran producer Arne L. Schmidt (who had just produced "XXX: State of the Union” with director Tamahori) says the location was chosen because "we needed a cliffside motel with a steep slope behind it because an avalanche of sorts was going to take place there. We found a great place called The Cliffhanger Restaurant that our production designer, Bill Sandell, transformed into a motel,” says Schmidt.

Although The Cliffhanger was exactly what the script called for, the unpredictable weather was not. "The location was at the end of this precipice, at 8,000 feet. So it had its own little microclimate,” explains Schmidt. "Every day would start out sunny in the morning, and then it would get blindingly foggy in the afternoon. No other place around us was foggy. This was a nightmare. It was very disruptive for production, causing us havoc trying to match shots over several days.”

A master of adaptation, Tamahori found a way to salvage the days. "Lee was very quick on his feet,” says Schmidt. "We had one day where Lee and (director of photography) David Tattersall shot close-ups. This way, you couldn't see that much fog. Then for about 2 ½ hours, the fog lifted and Lee managed to fit 12 hours of filming into that small window. I don't know many directors around who could have done that.”

The film's avalanche sequence, in which Cris is running down a long steep slope, with the Feds and boulders, a water tower, a steam locomotive, logs and debris tumbling down behind him, took over a week to complete.

"It's a good thing that Nic was in such good shape,” says Schmidt, "because we started filming on one mountain and continued on several different locations to create one sheer, continuous mountain. Nic not only had to run down these slopes, he also had to walk back up again and again, at 8,500 feet above sea level. It was a week of jumping, ducking and diving. And he did it without even breathing that hard.”

After three weeks of filming in the California mountains, the production proceeded to Long Beach at the Port of Los Angeles for the film's biggest sequence which contains terrorists, SWAT teams, FBI agents, helicopters, gunfire and explosions aboard an enormous cargo ship.

Schmidt assembled a top-notch technical team for this Herculean task. "In order to make a film like this, you must have people who are really capable and experienced,” he observes. "Then it's a question of organizing and breaking down scenes into what we can manage each day and making it look as realistic as possible.”

Renowned supervising stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell (a third generation stunt man) choreographed the scenes with director Tamahori using more than 35 stuntmen, background fighters, special effects people and helicopters for the attack of the cargo ship holding the explosives.

"It took me a few weeks to figure it out and bring suggestions to Lee. I gave him everything in the location that he might want, and some he hadn't even thought of, and I let him choose. After all, it's his playground, and he usually has great ideas; he has a great eye for camera, action, movement,” notes Rondell.

Tamahori and Rondell decided that they wanted to shoot the attack on the boat in a documentary style. With the help of special effects supervisor Clay Pinney (who had worked with Rondell<


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