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Behind The Armor
Like each of Nimrod Antal's previous films, Armored has a visual style of its own, a tribute to the director's meticulous attention to detail. "Visually this movie is just awesome,” says Farah. Antal assembled a crack team to help him build the unique look, including cinematographer Andrzej Sekula, whose resume includes Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.

Armored is a continuation of a partnership the director and the cinematographer began on Vacancy. "The director of photography is probably the person I work most closely with on the set,” says Antal. "I prefer a relationship that is very intimate and very collaborative. I have a pretty strong visual sense, but I also invite and encourage as much input as possible and Andrzej is the ultimate collaborator. His visual style is sparse, very clean and stunning. The lighting, the film stock and everything else he used definitely goes against the grain. His eye is absolutely spectacular.”

Antal likens the experience of working with Sekula to sitting in the passenger seat of racecar driven by an expert. "If the guy is a good driver, you can be driving with him while he is going 200 MPH, and you still feel comfortable. Andrzej thinks that going 200 MPH, doing power slides and turns are nothing remarkable because he does it every day.”

One of Sekula's inspired ideas was to shoot a crucial scene from an unexpected vantage point: the truck's rearview mirror. "It sounds simple,” says Antal. "In reality, it's very powerful. It serves the purpose of story-telling extremely well.”

Another Vacancy alumnus, production designer Jon Gary Steele, also joined the team for Armored and made what Antal says was an invaluable contribution to the overall look of the film. "The sets he built were really special,” says the director. "We found a location in Fontana, California, an old steel factory that was falling apart. It looked perfect on the outside, and we had to create an interior area that would feel completely organic to the exterior locations.”

Because almost half the film is spent inside the factory, Antal and Steele were challenged to keep it visually interesting. "We decided to build an interior for it on a soundstage that would have several levels,” says Steele. "That gave the director a lot of different options for a multi-level chase in a cavernous space.”

"Gary had a great idea about using different tiers to create more tension,” says Antal. "He designed an Escher-esque stairway system that was sensational. It gave the set a depth that we wouldn't have had if we stayed on the floor for the entire time.”

Steele constructed a model of the set for Antal and Sekula to use for the planning of each shot. "We could then talk about how it was going to be used,” says the production designer. "Andrzej decided where we needed to provide places to hang lights. The design process was finished within a few weeks.”

Then the crew had less than seven weeks to build the whole set. "It's all made from new wood painted to look like concrete,” says Steele. "Almost everything is brand new, except for a couple of rented equipment pieces. Everything else, we aged. Our scenic artist, Charlie Bryant, piled dirt on it so it looks like it's been there for many, many years.”

In addition to giving the filmmakers more control over the location, building the set allowed a few more perks for the actors. "I kept forgetting that we were on a soundstage,” says Fishburne. "I've worked in abandoned warehouses that have been converted into soundstages and they often look like what this set looks like. However, we had heat and there wasn't any live vermin running around. There were golf carts, a restroom, running water.”

But those comforts didn't mean the filmmakers had to compromise on verisimilitude. "I was really blown away with the way they were able to recreate that steel mill,” says Dillon. "


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