VFX update

Posted on Nov 18, 1999

It’s been a while since I posted something significant. I’ve moved from Massachussetts to California, and I’m in the process of getting settled. Well, one of the dilemas in bringing Tennessee to the screen will be getting all the visual effects done in time for its Christmas 2000 release. Got this from the Hollywood Reporter:

Visual effects have become a hot spot in the ongoing battle to get Michael Bay’s World War II epic “Tennessee” green-lighted. The sizable effects job — easily 300 shots, insiders say — was originally to have gone to Dream Quest Images, which made sense because Disney, the studio producing “Tennessee,” owns Dream Quest, and two of the company’s top effects supervisors — Richard Hoover and Hoyt Yeatman — have long-established relationships with Bay, with whom they worked on “Armageddon” and “The Rock.”

Because of the high volume of work and fairly tight turnaround, it was decided the work would be split between two shops, and Industrial Light & Magic entered the mix. However, in an effort to lower production costs, it was decided that it would be more efficient to have one shop do the work. “It’s always more expensive to work with multiple facilities, because you’re carrying the overhead for both in your budget,” a source on the production said.

At one point, ILM reportedly had the job locked up. The San Francisco-based firm did spectacular World War II work for “Saving Private Ryan” and has a battalion of Oscars, all of which appealed to Bay, who is intent on making “Tennessee” a “prestige” production.

But an eleventh-hour rally by the artists formerly known as Dream Quest, recently rechristened by Disney as the Secret Lab, has put the dark horse back in the running. “They’re just not giving up,” said an insider at Jerry Bruckheimer Films, which is posting “Gone in 60 Seconds” with Secret Lab and has done five other films with DQI. “They sent over a new reel, which absolutely floored us.” On the other hand, “ILM really wants the job,” one insider said. “Michael is a filmmaker they believe in.”

It remains to be seen how much Disney believes in him. Despite the combined track records of Bay and Bruckheimer, there is considerable nail-biting over “Tennesse’s” big budget and whether it will set sail.

One thing is certain. If “Tennessee” does get made, it will be shot at Fox Baja Studios, with whom the producers are negotiating. “For a film like this, you wouldn’t want to shoot anywhere else,” the production source said of the state-of-the-art facility, which boasts the premier tanks for water work. A Secret Lab spokeswoman said the process is ongoing, and it is too premature to comment. ILM declined to comment on the status of its bid.

Pearl Harbor

Posted on Oct 12, 1999

“Corona’s Coming Attractions” has posted on their site some info on “Pearl Harbor” that you can read here. I’m not putting the site’s credibility down (they have been known to give accurate in the past), but in regards to the latest news (posted October 14, 1999) on the budget, casting, etc…it’s partially inaccurate, so don’t worry.

Anyways, the movie is still scheduled to come out on Christmas 2000. The start of principal photography might be pushed back a month.

Michael talks Pearl Harbor

Posted on Sep 8, 1999

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay will begin filming an epic big-budget drama set around the Pearl Harbor bombing here early next year.

Bay, who directed the 1998 blockbuster ‘Armageddon’ and ‘The Rock,’ and Bruckheimer, who produced the films, head the production team for the $100 million-plus ‘character-driven love story’ tentatively titled ‘Tennessee’ under Disney’s Touchstone moniker (Daily Variety, June 25). Randall Wallace, who won a screenwriting Oscar for ‘Braveheart,’ is the scribe.

The picture, which looks to be the second most-expensive ever produced in Hawaii (after ‘Waterworld’), will spend plenty on spectacular special effects, including a re-creation of the bombing, Bay said. “You will see what happened at Pearl Harbor like you have never seen it in any other movie,” Bay promised. “Our goal is to stage the event with the utmost realism.”

Hackman, Paltrow sought

No stars have been signed, but Bay said he’s after Oscar winners Gene Hackman to play President Franklin Roosevelt and Gwyneth Paltrow for the romantic lead of a Navy nurse.

The story centers on two brothers caught up in the events that drew the United States into World War II. One of the siblings enlists with the U.S. Air Force, and the other flies for the RAF. Both brothers get involved with the same woman. The story begins several months before the Pearl Harbor bombing.

“Tennessee is the film’s temporary title and has been a code name for the production for several months, Bay said. The film may be called “Pearl Harbor, he said. The code name was used to keep the project secret, Bay said. (Writer Wallace is from Tennessee.)

Avoiding copycats

“We didn’t want the same thing to happen with this film that happened to us with ‘Armageddon,’ said Bay. When word got out about “Armageddon, another studio rushed a similar themed film, “Deep Impact, into production.

“I want this to be the movie about Pearl Harbor by which all other such films are measured, he said. ” ‘Tora Tora Tora’ was more of a documentary. And all of these other (Pearl Harbor) films glorified war; there were no characters to latch onto.

This summer, Bay scouted Oahu for locations in a helicopter with his production designer and visual effect supervisor. Since June, Bay and Wallace have interviewed veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the production’s special effects staff started its research.

World tour

Bay expects the film to require 130 shooting days – the same as “Armageddon – including time in England, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Baja, Mexico, at the “tank set used for the film “Titanic. The Baja set is ideal for some of the film’s planned large special effects, specifically the sinking of the USS Oklahoma.

Bay plans to use many live explosions rather than just computer-generated ones, he said. He also plans to “take real ships and twist them up through the air.

Most of the Hawaii filming will be done at Oahu military bases, including Hickham, Wheeler, Schofield and Pearl Harbor. The production team has met with military officials on the mainland and expect approval, as the film depicts “such an American historical event.

The production company has not selected a production base, but Bay said he really liked Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. The Hawaii Film Studio is currently being used by two production companies, one of which produces the television series “Baywatch Hawaii.

Meeting Michael Bay

Posted on Sep 6, 1999

While in Los Angeles, I got the chance to meet Michael at BayFilms. Click here to read about it and see some pictures.