MISSION TO MARS
About The Production
Principal photography began on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and was
completed 1 5 days ahead of schedule.
Interior sets, including Mars Mission Control, the Mars Recovery ship, the Mars habitat and all of the deep space sequences in which the actors were suspended on harnesses against green screen backgrounds, were
constructed on sound stages at the Bridge Studios near downtown Vancouver. Measuring an enormous 86 feet by 476 feet by 56
feet high, the John Thomas Effects stage at The Bridge is one of the largest sound stages in North America and is the historic former home of the Dominion Bridge Works,
where parts of the Golden Gate Bridge were built.
The vast exterior Mars set was built at the Fraser Sand Dunes, in the suburb of Richmond, just south of Vancouver.
Second unit director Eric Schwab, who has worked extensively with director De
Palma since "Casualties of War," and his crew also filmed parts of the
Martian terrain on locations in Jordan, at the world heritage site of the Ancient City of Petra, and
Diseh in the Wederum region, as well as on the Island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
A miniature model of the Mars Recovery Ship was built at visual effects house Dream Quest Images, model shop in Los Angeles and miniature models of the REMO
(Resupply Module) and ERV (Earth Return Vehicle) were built at Industrial Light and Magic's model stage.
A number of members of the creative team included De Palma alumni. Cinematographer Stephen Burum previously worked with the acclaimed director on "Snake Eyes," "Mission: Impossible," "Carlito's Way," "Raising Cain," "Casualties of War " "The Untouchables" and "Body Double." Academy
Award- winning editor Paul Hirsch ("Star Wars") edited nine other De Palma pictures: "Mission: Impossible," "Raising Cain," "Blow
Out," "The Fury," "Carrie," "Obsession," "Phantom of the Paradise," "Sisters" and "Hi Mom!" Special effects coordinator Garry Elmendorf worked on "Snake Eyes."
The actual physical geography of the locations he shoots is of particular importance to De Palma, and filming "Mission To Mars" presented special challenges, not the least of which was shooting in outer space—a physical space which does not exist. The director explains, "It was especially exciting because we had to create everything that the actors were in."
To do this, he used computer animation software and animated story boards, called animatics, to help pre-visualize the major action sequences. And then,
editor Paul Hirsch signed on an unusual five weeks before filming to begin work with the director to pre-visualize the film. The edited animatics proved an invaluable tool as the actors and creative keys were able to see what the action scenes would ultimately look like.
De Palma explains, "We had to imagine the space and create it, first through visualizing and story boarding, and then creating animatics, and then, ultimately, creating the virtual spaces themselves. On this film, we had none of the normal things one relies on, like a bright sunny day or an interesting piece of architecture that happens to be there. We had to create all that and the computer technology is so sophisticated that now, you actually can create anything you can imagine which gives filmmakers whole new visual frontiers."
"Brian (De Palma) is an incredibly skillful, thoughtful, original filmmaker and compositionally, he is very strong," says producer Tom Jacobson. "The
choice of shots he made seemed to make the movie feel like a classic while he was shooting it."
A newcomer to the De Palma team, produc
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