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FORCES OF NATURE

Production Information
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…like 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 and threatening.

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 cooperated."

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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