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About the Stunts

"Hard Rain" required exceptionally demanding and spectacular stunt work, involving extensive work with jet skis and speedboats, as well as exploding propane gas tanks and furious surges of floodwater. One sequence involves a jet-ski gun battle in half-submerged high school hallways -- "sort of a dream come true," admits Slater. The sequence culminates in a jet-ski hitting a submerged obstacle, catapulting a stunt double 30 feet into a trophy case.

To set up the stunt, two underwater cables were attached to the jet ski, so that it would jolt to a stop and flip on its side at just the right angle.

Another cable took stunt performer Ethan Jensen and hurled him toward the trophy case, which was made of special tempered glass and filled with rubber trophies. "He just launched off and did almost a Superman-type fly into the trophy case," explains stunt coordinator Jeff Habberstad. "It required a lot of accuracy."

In another key scene, two speedboats crash through the stained-glass windows of a church. Habberstad describes the design, "The stained glass windows were tempered glass with a balsa wood frame and the windows were set with explosive squibs so that they broke into literally thousands of little pieces as the boats came through." The stunt sequence required the boats to approach side by side at 25 miles-per-hour, then hit a submerged ramp, fly up into the air, and crash through the windows. "Basically," says Habberstad, "when the boats came flying through the air, the effects guys hit their charges and the glass shatters. The boats broke through the glass and the balsa wood as if it wasn't even there."

Reproducing the devastating effects of a major flood was the challenge for supervising art director Dave Klassen and model supervisor Jim Toler. In news footage, notes Klassen, "The flood water looks very calm, because you can't hear it from a helicopter. But when you're down near it, the current is unbelievably powerful. And when you see a building ripped off its foundation, you have to somehow duplicate that."

Large-scale models had to be built to achieve a realistic effect, since the effects of water do not look convincing on a miniature scale. News footage of floods were used as the basis for designing model buildings that would be wrenched off their foundations, float intact in the current for a few seconds, then disintegrate under the pounding force of floodwater.

The most demanding model sequence involved the dam that protects low-lying Huntingburg from the river. According to Toler, "As destroying an actual dam was out of the question, a large-scale model was constructed of lumber and covered with resin, with working flood gates. A large-scale model was necessary in order to shoot the rain proportional to the dam." As Toler continues, "If we were to use a model that was too small, the water would not appear proportional to the size of dam; and scaling down the size of a water droplet was simply not an option." The large scale model also enabled the filmmaking team to shoot several takes of the dam breaking from various angles.

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