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PANDORUM

Uncharted Terrority
Filming began on August 11, 2008, in Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam, just outside Berlin. A number of international projects have shot at Babelsberg recently, and the film's German production connections made it a perfect place for Pandorum to call home.

"We had such a good experience making the first Resident Evil film here,” says Bolt. "There are tremendously good crews here, and Berlin is a fantastic city. Who wouldn't want to spend 5 months here?”

Director Alvart adds, "I shot Antibodies here, and I loved the crew and people. On a demanding project like Pandorum, I wanted to rely on people I knew.”

In addition, Berlin provided the physical conditions required for the shoot. "We wanted huge sets showing the Elysium's and the mission's dimension,” Kulzer says; they wanted a deepness to the locations that would create a vertigo effect. The location was important to the story as well, as the filmmakers wanted the audience to feel the vastness of the ship which in the film can hold up to 60,000 passengers. They found suitable places in the sound stages of Babelsberg and within an abandoned power plant in Berlin, Steglitz, where the last two weeks of shooting took place. "It looks like a spaceship already,” says Alvart. "We just had to add our sets.” 

Overall, the production required 54 sets and locations. Production designer Richard Bridgland previously worked with the producers on Resident Evil, and was glad to come onboard for a whole new challenge. Together with Alvart, he created the film's unique look – a sort of post-industrial futurism.

"This is a well-defined genre, and there's a typical look to these movies,” says Bridgland. "But this script had a whole different feeling to it, a gothic element I really enjoyed.”

A film like Pandorum can offer huge creative freedom to a production team, but that freedom can make things even more difficult. Alvart says, "You have to solve a paradox every day: You want to believably portray a future nobody knows, yet you want to connect to the audience and make them relate to the characters and story.”

"It had to be very functional,” adds Bridgland. "Things had to work.” The intention – and ultimate result – was to create a look that differs from everything seen before, one that suited the dark and twisted Pandorum. "The sets themselves have to tell the story, so they gradually get more and more gothic and horrifying.”

Of working on set, Foster says, "We're all affected by environment – emotionally and physically. The sets were designed to provoke a certain experience…and they were very effective in that department.”

Cam Gigandet says, "I expected a lot of green screen, which always makes me skeptical – you can usually see that it's not real. With Pandorum, it was, ‘Oh my God, this could all happen.'” 

"Digital effects always create a distance – even with today's technique,” says Kulzer. "We felt the more sets we could actually build and the more realistic they looked, the better the actors could convey real emotions. And the more they get scared, the more the audience will get scared as well.”

The set, which became the actors' home for three months, together with the fact that some of them had not been to Germany before and could not speak the language, evoked what they ultimately named the "Pandorum effect.” Actor Gigandet says, "The whole situation was quite surreal, and honestly, it brought out insecurity in me.” Foster, who shot each of the 52 production days, says, "The working pace we had, the sets, and the whole atmosphere of the movie certainly supported a feeling of confusion and anxiety.”

Traue adds, "Darkness was a big theme. It was dark when I'd get up, dark when I'd come home, and in between we're shooting in all dark sets. After some weeks, it definitely had influence<

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