FORCES OF NATURE
Once the filmmakers got their actors together, they had to take them on the road
Once the filmmakers got their actors together,
they had to take them on the road. To follow the travels and travails
of Ben and Sarah, the company moved from Savannah, Georgia to
Beaufort, South Carolina. and back to Savannah, before going on
to Dillon, South Carolina. Richmond, Virginia, Washington. D.C.,
Cherokee, North Carolina, and finally to St. John, Virgin Islands
where the production wrapped.
The number and variety of locations offered another set of challenges
to the company, as producer Ian Bryce attests. "I think the
greatest challenge of a road movie is being able to move the entire
company-including actors, crew and equipment-to any number of
locations in a fluid way. Each location has its own logistical
problems, and just when you've solved them, it's time to move
on. Principal photography began on June 23, 1998 in Savannah,
and the Georgian summer presented a force of nature that was inescapable-the
relentless heat coupled with humidity that literally weighed the
air down. For most of the cast and crew, who had come from the
relatively arid climate of Southern California, the heat and humidity
were indeed forces to be reckoned with. "I used to think
100 percent humidity meant rain," says David Strickland ruefully.
"It is, after all, a romantic comedy," Meredith Scott
Lynn jokes. "You've heard the term 'torrid romance'? Well,
there you go...
Despite the heat and humidity that sometimes threatened to wilt
the cast and crew. Hughes says, "Weather can have a surreal
beauty, but its destructive side is more often seen onscreen.
I wanted to draw on the beautiful side of weather for this movie
on a day where there have been thunderstorms, and the clouds are
black and stormy, but there's a band of sunset at the horizon
that lights the whole world orange. Those are the kinds of moments
I wanted in this film."
To help capture those moments, Hughes relied on cinematographer
Elliot Davis. "He has a fantastic eye for light, and he notices
everything," the director says. "He might backlight
some tiny element in a scene, and you won't understand why until
you show up at dailies and it's beautiful."
What could not be captured naturally through the lens was accomplished
digitally by the visual effects wizards at Pacific Data Images
(PDI), headed by co-visual effects supervisors Richard Chuang,
one of the founders of PDI, and Henry LaBounta, an Oscars nominee
for his work on "Twister." Using computer animation,
the team at PDI was able to create skies that were at once glorious
The real weather was of primary concern to the production team,
but in reverse of the norm. Bryce explains, "As the story
progresses, the weather is getting worse and worse as the hurricane
approaches. So, when the weather was nice, we shot indoors, and
when the weather was bad, we filmed outdoors. It was a bit of
a scheduling trick, but we were fortunate because the weather
The cooperative weather notwithstanding, it could not be counted
on to provide the extreme atmospheric changes needed for the film.
For those scenes, a special effects team headed by John Frazier
and Jim Schwalm stood in for Mother Nature, mechanically recreating
conditions ranging from a hailstorm to the final hurricane. Having
collaborated on the blockbuster "Twister," Frazier and
Schwalm were well-versed in weather effects,
"For the hailstorm, we rented three ice chippers. the kind
they use on the shrimp b
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