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DEEP BLUE SEA

Under The Sea
Once filmmakers had their ensemble cast (both actors and sharks), all systems were go for filming at a facility practically tailor-made to meet the challenges (both wet and dry) present in the script -- Fox Studios Baja

Once filmmakers had their ensemble cast (both actors and sharks), all systems were go for filming at a facility practically tailor-made to meet the challenges (both wet and dry) present in the script -- Fox Studios Baja. (The facility, after all, had been built to specification for the filming of the most successful motion picture of all time -- James Cameron's "Titanic.")

Harlin explains, "If you shoot in the real ocean, you're trying to control waves, currents, winds, the sun -- water pictures have a reputation for being horribly difficult shoots. By shooting at Fox Baja, we could maximize the resources available and eliminate a lot of the potential for danger, maximizing safety in the process. They've also got the biggest water tanks in the world."

On August 3, 1998, principal photography began on "Deep Blue Sea."

Another character with more screen time than any of the actors (or the sharks) is the ocean. Visual effects supervisor Okun was Harlin's waterboy.

Okun says, "If you watch water, it has a magic and a mystery. But shooting on the ocean is notorious for its difficulty and its destructiveness -- salt water is corrosive. So filming in a controlled environment is advantageous. With the state of the art of tanks being built around the world, like at Baja, we're able to accomplish so much more. Combined with the abilities of visual effects, and we can take a drop of water and turn it into an ocean."

Fox Studios Baja (three miles south of Rosarito, Mexico) is a completely self-contained production facility that features some of the world's largest stages and filming tanks (that hold a combined volume of more than 20 million gallons) and a filtration plant capable of delivering 9,000 gallons of filtered and chlorinated sea water per minute. In addition, the studio features a full range of other offices and services necessary to accomplish any filming requirements (office space, scenery shops, dressing rooms, wardrobe facilities and post-production areas).

The centerpiece of the Deep Blue Sea sets, the Research Station Aquatica, was constructed in the studio's Tank #1, a poured-concrete pool covering a total area of more than 360,000 square feet. (Tank 1 housed the largest set of "Titanic" -- the 90%-scale model of the H.M.S. Titanic herself.) The majority of the tank is three-and-one-half feet deep, but it also features two sections which, when flooded in combination, provide tank space up to 40 feet in depth; when totally flooded, Tank 1 holds a staggering 17 million gallons of sea water.

Tank 1 also features an overflow wall on the ocean side which, when filmed from the "land" side, provides an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and creates the illusion of an infinite seamless horizon -- nothing but water. This feature proved useful to production designer Sandell and crew, who constructed the Research Station Aquatica as two halves of a circle; by simply reversing some smaller set pieces, the illusion could be created that the research station was being filmed from opposing sides (when, in fact, the camera would stay mounted on the "land" side.)

Other major sets (Dr. McAlester's research lab, crew quarters and various other offices, hallways and service and elevator shafts) were constructed on the studio's four additional (and two of which are floodable) stages and<

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