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KILLER ELITE

Production Information
SETTING AN ACTION THRILLER IN THE 1980s

Being set in the '80s affected the overall look of the film as well as that of the individual characters, and also necessitated some careful location scouting. As director Gary McKendry says of the overall recreation of the period, "The single most important thing in this film was keeping it authentic. I had a vision at the start of this film with lots of hand-held camera flying around, very loose, but I can't do that because I move the camera here, I see a satellite dish, I move there, I see a parking meter, I move there I see a cell phone tower, it's not 1980 anymore. So we had to move the camera in a much more intimate way, it's still hand held, it's still little short zoom work, it still has a certain spontaneity where actor leads and the camera is trying to keep up, but not quite to the extent I had initially wanted. But Simon Duggan at the helm made this work, he lit it not slick, not beautiful, he kept it real, and that was the key for me, was keeping it real, keeping some truth in it.”

COSTUME

The costumes and the look of each character also had to fit the period in an authentic way, which in this case did not mean the style of the 1980s that immediately comes to mind. McKendry says, "People say 1980, but to these guys [the ex-soldiers]… it's 1972, maybe 1970. They don't know about what's ‘in' or punk, or new wave, they don't know about New Romantics. They live in the world of bands like Slade and Sweet.”

HAIR & MAKE-UP

Key hair and make-up was created by Oscar®-winner Paul Pattison who thrived on keeping the look of the film real. "The great thing about this project is that it is set in the early 1980s but we were designing something that wasn't theatrical, it wasn't going to be over the top '80s, it's not going to be [pop group] Wham. And luckily enough I was there in the 1980s so I knew exactly what was going on then. We were able to take twenty-seven different cast members and individually look at each character. It doesn't matter if they play for two days or fifty days on the shoot, we treated each person as a particular look. We kept that look quite understated but at the same time something that is a little bit interesting and a little bit left of centre but not over the top, and I think we've achieved that.”

Working with each actor individually allowed for great attention-to-detail to get the look exactly right which, as a result, made it more of a collaborative process than on most films, as Paul explains.

For Clive Owen this resulted in him appearing in the film, as he has never been seen before. His character Spike sports a very 1980s moustache that Clive grew for authenticity. Clive explains: "Well it's weird cause I kind of grew up in the 1980s so I feel close to it. I think Gary [McKendry] and I are of the same sort of generation so there's a whole world which is quite familiar to me and there's lots of memories and lots of details that you remember. So it's very weird going into some of the sets because they've done a very excellent set design on this and it feels very period, it's not an 1980s fashion show with clothes and everything, it's very much broken down and to look as real as possible. I looked at pictures of the 1980s and everyone had moustaches, if you go back and look at soccer teams and any pictures from that period, moustaches were big then, so I felt I should go there.”

 LOCATIONS

The majority of the film was shot in Victoria, Australia, with filming also taking place in Jordan and Wales. Victorian locations doubled for London, Oman, or Paris, and director Gary McKendry used distinct color palettes for each part of the world to help tell the story, although they are not all what you might expect. Gary says: "The story moves around in a lot of worlds. That was one of the things I really liked about it. None of these worlds were familiar, we moved from Oman, to Australia to London to Paris so one of the things we were really conscious of was giving each world its own color palette. Australia was a wet leaf, London was a purple bruise and the desert was a dry white bone. I think it just helps people understand they've moved to a different world really quickly and that was a brief to the production designers and to the DP as we were doing it. We lit it differently, we costumed it differently, we designed the sets differently.”

A green Australia, however, is a different look to what is normally portrayed in films. McKendry continues: "We weren't going for the red, burnt Australian world that we usually see in movies, we were going for a sense of life. We wanted a sense that this was Danny's life, this is where you come to, this is the future, the past is death so all this was about is life so we needed lots of life, lots of water, we needed flowers, we needed things that you wouldn't normally think of around him, the lead actor of an action film. We certainly got that in the Yarra Valley and that's where we shot Anne's house and that's where we built Danny's house. The locations in Australia were fantastic, quite unbelievable.”

Australian producer Michael Boughen agrees. "There's such a diversity of locations in Victoria and we really did spend a lot of time searching out what we wanted. There are little street corners in Melbourne that look like Paris; there are streets that look like London. There's a lot of buildings here, the bluestone buildings, the cobbled streets. We can find remarkable things here in Victoria and in Melbourne in particular to reproduce those cities, if you shoot carefully. And of course, the film's set in the '80s, so in many ways, finding '80s London is even trickier, because it has developed so much. 1980s Paris is a little easier and the desert, well the desert's the desert.

London was particularly easy according to Executive Producer Matthew Street because "Melbourne's streets, being based on a Victorian system, really look like the UK.” Gary McKendry also points out that the London weather was there for the production too: "It was the wettest Melbourne winter in I think, ten years, which made shooting London a lot easier, a lot more friggin' miserable, but it made it easier. The skies look like London, the ground was shiny and wet, and so it helped.”

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