The Making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

The Making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

February 14, 2020 4 By William Hollis


SETH GRAHAME-SMITH: People say,
“Oh, vampires are trendy,”
but they’ve been trendy for me
since I was about three years old.
DOMINIC COOPER: It’s not like anything
I’ve ever heard about, read or seen.
BENJAMIN WALKER: It’s all geared
to be extremely authentic.
It’s so much fun.
It’s guerrilla filmmaking at its best. MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD: You readitand you go,“Wow.“This really feels like a world that existed.“This feels like something
that really happened.”JIMLEMLEY:I’ve never seen
this kind of a story
told through the eyes of somebody
that’s so iconic. It doesn’t diminish any of the historical
reality that we’ve been taught. It’s more about the emotional
relationship between characters. You need people to get absorbed
in this world. You need them to forget
that this isn’t real history. (BOTH GRUNTING) Cut.WINSTEAD: I think
it’s one of those things where
you can’t quite grasp it until you see some little piece
of footage from it, and then you kind of go, “Oh, that’s what this is.” Send in troops. Well, what we’ve done is taken
two exciting adventure stories and thrown them together
to make a fantastical history thriller.GRAHAME-SMITH: You know,
amashup is one way to describe it.I sort of see it as an amplification though. Um, I see it as taking the real ideals,the real themes, and the real events
of a real hero’s life,
and like they say in Spinal Tap,
just turning them up to 11… (YELLS)…giving them an absurd canvas
to play themselves out on.
(LAUGHS) LEMLEY:Tim Burton and Timur
and I had done
an animated movie together called 9.We wanted to work together again,and one day we woke up
and in our e-mail was
a proposal, a book proposalcalled Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,for a novel that was to be writtenbythe guywhohad written
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was just like, I call it that
chocolate and peanut butter moment of the subconscious inspiration.I was going around the countryand speaking
in a lot of different book stores.
It was the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.And it was also when the Twilight books
were at their hottest.
So in every book store that I would go to
around the country,
no matter where it was,
there was always the same two tables.There was the vampire books tableand there was
the Abraham Lincoln biography table.
CALEBDESCHANEL: There’s something
really compelling about
taking those two ideas
and sort of putting them together because they do, each of them,
have their own life to them. (ALL GRUNTING) We read it and immediately reacted because the idea was so simple
and so powerful that you really feel it.TIM BURTON: It just sounded to me
like the kind of a movie that I wanted to see.
I knew it even before reading the book,
that it was a great idea. There’s a room upstairs. It isn’t much, but if you were willing to work down in my store
I suppose it could be had on credit.GRAHAME-SMITH: And the next thing
I know I’m in a room
talking to these three producers.There’s Tim Burton, there’s Timur
and there’s Jim.
And they’re saying,
“We love this proposal.
“We think it’s going to be a great book.
And we think it’d make a great movie.
“If you were to write the script
for the movie, “what would your approach be?”And I said, “I would play it
straight down the middle.
“I would not apologize for being ridiculous.“I would just say,
‘I put forth this proposition
“‘that this crazy thing
that we’re selling you
“‘really happened and we’re not gonna
flinch off of that.
It certainly fits into all the elements
of the story of the history of Abe Lincolnand his rise to becoming a public figureand then becoming, ultimately,
the President.
I don’t think anyone’s expecting
a history lesson. It just happens that there’s a lot of
really good history within this cool movie.BURTON: Again, the interesting thing
about it is that
it’s not as farfetched as it sounds.I mean, the events, the idea of him
becoming a vampire hunter,
and all the deaths that he had
in his family and people close to him,
it makes a lot of sense
and it’s actually more believable
than the premise makes it,
so that’s what was interesting,
because we never wanted to make…
It’s not making fun of anything.
It’s to treat it seriously
and treat it like a human story,
and like this is the real story. I’m not the Congress, Abe. I’m your wife!WALKER: So much of his actual life
is in the movie.
The movie’s kind of the greatest hits
of the events of his life.
Though we’re obviously taking liberty
with adding vampires.
We’re not in other aspects. We must fight, fight for the very soul… These are young people
with real problems, and real emotions, and real loves, and aspirations.Speed and Abe and Will and Mary,they’re just young,
somewhat attractive people,
sort of trying to find their place
in the world
and trying to figure it all out.And in that way, I think,
it’s relatable to anyone watching it today
because we can identify
with the things that they’re going through.
It doesn’t matter that they’re
going through them 150, 200 years ago.
They’re human problems.
They’re the same problems. I don’t suppose you know
of any rooms for rent, Mr. Speed? What sort of room
might you be looking for, Mr. Lincoln? Well, a cheap one… as I have spent all of my money
on law books and have none to spare at the moment. Good day. MAN 1: One more time. MAN 2: One more from the top. Here we go.GRAHAME-SMITH: In terms of timeline,
this happened really fast.
I went right from delivering the book,
the manuscript,
right into meeting with Timur
on a weekly basis
and starting to craft the movie.I mean, we had an outline and I think
even a first draft of the screenplay
by the time the book even published.MAN: And bite! Everything that we know about him
is in the movie. But the context is different.We will open the secret page of his life.ANTHONY MACKIE: Basically,
Abraham Lincoln
kept journals all through his youthbecause his mother told him
the written word is very powerful.
And one of the journals was about what
was going on in the darker side of his life.GRAHAME-SMITH: The journal
was just another device, basically,
to set up the story,and then also it was a great device
for getting inside of Lincoln’s head
at any given moment.And know exactly what he was thinking. Or it could be if this is here,
maybe it’s a jump over.BURTON: The important aspect
to this story for us was
the idea that it’s possibly real.Always the idea of a journal
kind of gives it a certain reality,
a certain kind of secret history
that we were trying to present.GRAHAME-SMITH: The one thing,
thematically, we kept talking about
was this idea that
until every man is free we’re all slaves.
How would that belief
then lead him through
the hunting and the political aspects
of his life?
So we thought a lot about equality.We thought a lot about freedom,
about liberty.
Because these are all the themes
that were going on,
by the way, in the 1850s and ’60s.It was very easy to sort of
tap into what was going on.
The character of Will Johnson was inspired
by all of us sitting around and going,
“We have to give
the African-American community,
“in that period, a voice.“And not just a woe-is-me voice,“but an actual badass,
determined-to-make-a-difference voice.”MACKIE: l feel like William Johnson
is a monumental figure.
Not only in African-American history,
but in American history.
As a young actor, you don’t get a lot of
opportunities to play characters like Will.So when I read it,
I was pretty excited about it.
Until every man is free,
we are all slaves! (APPLAUSE) It was very late in the process,
maybe like a week or two before we were actually getting ready
to go out and pitch, and we realized
that the script had no villain.There was no Adam.So, literally, the week before
we are going out to pitch to studios,
I’m scrambling and going through
and inventing this character of Adam
and weaving him into the story.And sort of consolidating
all these vampire characters
into this one nasty dude.(GRUNTING) (GROANING) He’s many thousands of years old
and he’s seen it all.He’s very, very smart.
He’s a very good talker.
And I think a wonderful thing is when he
gets a chance to talk to Abraham Lincoln,
he can talk to him man to man.He’s someone
who doesn’t need to use force.
However when it doesn’t go his way,he can turn into an absolute
vicious head-biting monster. It’s ready. (INDISTINCT CHATTERING) There’s a new concept in this movie
that vampires can’t kill other vampires, which is why you need assassins,
for example, like Abraham Lincoln.Someone who’s a human who then has to
take it upon himself to kill vampires.
And action, please!COOPER: The characters
I thought were really
well drawn out and the writing was clever.There were chunks of dialogue
that were fun to say and fun to listen to.
Through the centuries I have searched,
searched for others to help me. The mixture of everything
made it seem like a very fun project to be part of. (BOTH GROANING) The most important thing for us
to get right was casting.If we couldn’t find somebody
to play Abraham Lincoln,
it would be, obviously,
very hard to make the movie.
We looked at, literally,
thousands of people.
Oh, no. We got to make a movie, guys,
all these shenanigans… He can’t be mucking about. TIMURBEKMAMBETOV: When l saw him,
it was clear that we found him.
He’s the only actor
I can imagine in the movie.He’s honest, he’s brave, he’s real.BURTON: We were always
very careful about just making sure
that Lincoln’s humanity
and the person was there.
And that’s what Ben was very aware ofand was very good at trying to be
right there as the heart of the movie. …and that government… of the people, by the people,
for the people… shall not perish from the earth. The challenge is making all of these
different sides of Abraham Lincolnreal and fully realized.And that’s usually gratifying as an actor
and we hope for the audience as well.
It’s inspiring.
It’s like working with Abe Lincoln ’cause he’s just this kind of honest,
unfussy presence in the middle of it.This kind of calm in the middle of it all.
That really works.
One of the things I love about the film
is just the chemistry between Mary Winstead and Ben Walker. I love the fact that you really do feel
that these people feel for each other.And it provides a really nice contrastto sort of the dark and bloody things
that are going on in Lincoln’s night life.
WINSTEAD: It’s very sweet.
It’s almost, you know,
our scenes in the beginningare almost akin to a
romantic comedy or something.
And as we get older
and we both go through a lot,
and I’m sort of standing by him
as he’s growing politically,
and running for President,and all the while he’s got this
secret life that he’s hiding from me.
And it creates this real, growing tension
between the two of us,
because there’s this unspoken thing
where he’s got this secret life
and I know that he has a secret life.And I might not know what it is
but I know something’s going on. And it’s this kind of quiet communication
between the two of usthat’s a little bit sad sometimes.GRAHAME-SMITH: There were
multiple studios interested in doing it.
And Fox went all out, just from the get go.They were excited about this movie
and they got it. They knew exactly
what they were getting into. Ahhh! We came to the studio to pitch the movie, and they had put up banners
and made posters,and had actual real physical buglers
playing army reveille songs.
They had made silver bullets.There was a bloody ax
and bloody boots by Tom Rothman’s door.
And, of course, after we had
gone through the whole process, they were the natural home for us. LINCOLN: …then let it stand for something. If it is a war for the freedom of man… why not give all men
a reason to fight it? I think Abraham Lincoln stands for the best of what we can suppose
to be as human beings.RUFUS SEWELL: All of those qualities that
we know Abraham Lincoln to have
make him an exceptional vampire hunter. It’s almost like he’s the original
superhero but he’s human.GRAHAME-SMITH: Like Timur said,
he’s the Batman of the 1800s.
His hunting coat is his cape.His ax is his utility belt.His hat is his mask.By day, mild-mannered store clerk,
clumsy around girls,
not necessarily menacing,
a little goofy even.
By night, he’s a brutal killer.You lied to me! He’s a dispenser of justice.He’s so iconic, his legacy is so strongthat it can support an absurd,
fun treatment like this.
WOMAN: A mark. MAN: B mark.FRANCOIS AUDOUY:
This movie is a location film.
And we did four months
of location scouting on this film
to find all the locations.We had a few builds on stage, but the majority was out
and around New Orleans. New Orleans is so visually extraordinary.We really approached itwithout any consideration
of it being a vampire movie.
We approached it
as if it was a real historical drama.
And somehow
the vampires lead you into this path
that creates a whole other atmospheric
and lighting quality
that suits the world that they live in.My concern is that
it’s just too close quarters. Okay, it’s not your choice. It’s his.BURTON: Shooting this in New Orleans
and shooting this on location,
again, is an element that, you feel it morerather than just being on sets
or green screens. I think the idea of shooting in locations
was really important. (INDISTINCT)BEKMAMBETOV’. I think New Orleanswas the perfect place to shoot this moviebecause the drama of the movie,
thematically, it’s very connected with New Orleans. LEMLEY:You have so many different
diversified looks that are unique to America
in one place.You have the French Quarter that you can
turn into unique and interesting places. Very close by you also have
country and fields and vegetationthat plays for Gettysburg
and all these places.
So it’s quite diverse
and it has a variation in looks
that allow us to achieve
everything in one place,which, of course, as filmmakers,
that’s what you’re always trying to do.
Can you stand, please, in the center? I think it was just this great place to come.When you go into some of these
old historic homes in New Orleans,
and some of these locations
are 150, 160 years old.
You can’t find them anywhere
on the west coast.
If you build them, they’re double, triple,
quadruple in terms of cost.
And so you try to find and shoot
in practical locations. AUDOUY: We’re shooting Abe’s arrival
to Springfield, Illinois.
(INDISTINCT) Fifteen yards further away this time. He arrived April 15th, 1837. It’s really exciting
because it actually correspondsperfectly with when we’re shooting.It’ll be the anniversary,
the 174th anniversary.
So it worked out to be
a perfect fit in the calendar.
– MAN: Thank you.
– You’re the man. AUDOUY: This was actually, probably the
most challenging location to find for us
because it had to work
for so many scenes,
and we needed, really, total control.We ended up
rebuilding an entire block, here,and taking over an abandoned building
and putting exterior store facades in
and, of course, building the
entire interior of Speed’s store
and his room above.That was a challenge,
getting that ready that quickly.We purchased a lot of the goods
for Speed’s prior.
All types of period bottles and tins
and spools of thread.
It was a complete blur.
We dressed that like… We did that whole shop,
that whole store in three days. I don’t suppose you know
of any rooms for rent, Mr. Speed? AUDOUY: We’re also shooting
in the old city hall,
which is in the downtown
central business district.Right now it’s an empty building
used for weddings.
But it’s a terrific example of Federal
architecture that’s really well preserved.
We’re using about six or seven rooms
inside that building
to turn into the White House.WILL: It’s going to get dangerous, Abe. We were trying to be,
as much as we can in a genre movie, we were trying to be historically correctand be very specific, like in costumes.The big challenge of this movie
was to have different periods. We start from 1820 and we go till 1863. VARVARAAVDYUSHKO:
So we had a lot of periods to play with.
Fashion was changing every 10 years.So we had to be very, very accurate
with all the changes.Plus, it’s an action movie.So it was a lot of things
which we had to deal with.
Wardrobe always has a huge effect for me in how I carry myself and the way
that the words come out of my body.So it’s definitely helped me
get into character.
It makes you stand up a little straighter,
it makes you behave in a different way.
I’m Abraham… Lincoln. Mary Todd. Darling. There you are. ALAN TUDYK:
There’s always that great moment
when you put on a costume
and you look in the mirror
and you hope there’s a moment of course
where it all comes together.Especially in a period piece.Even the discomfort of a costume
can inform you as to the period.
It was a very buttoned-up time.– Was that right?
– MAN: Yes, you did well.AVDYUSHKO: So everything we use,the historically accurate references,
shapes and everything, then we add just a little bit, a small touch
of something that can look more attractive. It was very important to Timur
that this world is relatable,that it’s not a stuffy costume drama,
that it’s also a lot of fun.
And we tried to create elementsthat younger audiences,
for example, could relate to.
I ever see you here again,
I will have your balls as a coin purse!COOPER: It doesn’t at any point
feel old-fashioned.
And I think that that’s a misinterpretation
of costume dramas and period pieces, that
everyone in them is very stuffy
and old-fashioned. You don’t know that.None of us really know how
people behaved or what they got up to.
It’s our job to make them vibrant and real
and three-dimensional
and into people that we could socialize
with and have a fun time with.
And, I think, Ben’s certainly
doing that with Abraham.
He’s making this really exciting character
who you want to get to know
and want to know more about.What’s dangerous about playing an icon is that you don’t allow him to be human.You don’t allow him to be specific
and vulnerable and silly
and everything that everyone else
takes for granted.
We put him on such a pedestal that
we don’t allow him to be a human being.And luckily Timur was open to that.(BOTH LAUGHING) ‘Cause we know what he did in his life, now let’s discover
what we don’t know about him. Yeah, then… (INDISTINCT CHATTERING)WINSTEAD: He’s been
so much fun to work with.
I was so relieved to get to setand to be with someone who can let loose
and just be totally silly and ridiculous.That’s something
that makes me really comfortable
because you have long days, long hoursand when the cameras aren’t rolling
you have to be able to
just have a good time
and joke around with each other
or else you go crazy.I do. Ben Walker is a great Abe Lincoln.There’s something
very appealing about him
and he has an intelligence about him and…He was very good at grounding
what he did with his character
that even when it ventured off
into hunting vampires,
he held onto the dignity
of Abraham Lincoln,
which, I think, is what’s so extraordinary
about the whole piece.
BEKMAMBETOV: It was very important
for me to follow his sensibility.
I mean, Ben Walker, to follow hiscriticism and knowledge
and what he knows about the life.It was the only way
for me to make this movie,
to pick the actor I trust,who as a personality can be Lincoln,
and then just follow him.
Because I’m not American.I cannot really guarantee that what I feel,
it’s what the audience feels.WALKER”. What’s exciting
about Timur is that,
though he understands the historyand understands
what it means to us as Americans,
he’s not American.So he doesn’t have a reverence
or a worship for it.And that then frees us up to,
in some ways, make it more realistic
than what we learned in history class,and, at the same time, look at it
through the lens of this mashup.
GRAHAME-SMITH: Because we’re
dealing with this crazy concept,
everything in support of it
needs to be authentic and emotional and real.And I think when people watch the filmthey’ll see that that detail,
that authenticity is there.
(CROWD CLAMORING)COOPER: It’s one of those things
you have discussions about.
“This is a period piece,
we must be sticking to the period
“and making sure that’s always correct.” And then you go, “But hold on,
it’s also a film about vampires.” (HISSES) One thing that we did early on was we really took advantage of the locations
that were available to us in New Orleans,that were really
preserved 19th century locations,
that really weren’t in the script,
but we kept an open mind
and adapted some of these scenes
to take advantage of these locations.
Like the pharmacy.
There’s a terrific 19th century pharmacy
that’s straight out of 1850,
totally preserved.And Abe goes to kill a vampire pharmacist
in this pharmacy.
-…saying, “Okay. Okay.”
– MAN: I know who you are, punk. What do you want? Yes, I am. Give me a prescription or…
What do you have? (YELLS) MAN: Cut. Good.CHERYL CARASK: Fortunately,
the pharmacy is a pharmacy museum.
But we did put our own things in there. But we used a lot of their pieces
that were on the wall. So that was very convenient. AUDOUY: We’re also creating
a prostitute alley
in one of the back courtyards
hidden away behind Bourbon Street. (GASPING) (WHIMPERS) Ahhh!COOPER: That was cool,
’cause that was the first time…
That particular scene in that alleyway
was when… That was the first time I discovered
what my character would be likeand look like
when he turned into a vampire.
And it was also Abraham’s
first discovery of Henry. Abe!Again, it was constantly changing
while we were filming.
There were just bits that weren’t working. – Abe, stop.
– You lied to me. No.COOPER: I love that kind of stuff.
‘Cause you have to make sense of it
and you have to work out a way
to make sense of it.
And I think we achieved that that evening.(GRUNTING) I’m here to hunt vampires, Henry,
not to partner with them.AUDOUY: We’ve also got Adam’s plantation.And it was impossible for us
to find a large plantation interior.
They just don’t exist anymore.There’s only four or five
preserved plantations
in southern Louisiana.We looked at them all,
and they just were all not right for the film.So it became pretty clear early on
that we needed to build that set,
especially for the amount of control
that Timur needed
for the action and the special effects
in the scene.
The way it’s designed is fantastic.
It’s like old decayed grandeur. ‘Cause, I think, Adam is
an appreciator of things that are eternal.At least he can take the time
to look at it as it decays.
(GRUNTING)AUDOUY: We’re shooting
at the Yemelos property,
which is a huge property
about an hour north of New Orleans.We’re doing three, four days of shooting
with the second unit.
And we’ve got battlefields going.First unit is shooting
the Gettysburg Address. They shot that yesterday and today
they’re here shooting the Union camp. (DRUMMING) (FANFARE)AUDOUY: The Civil War evolved.It started out as being
just a couple of pages of a transition
and it grew, as these things tend to grow,into an incredibly epic sequence
in the film.
MAN: Three, two, one, go! We first came out months and months
before we started shooting.One of the first locations we looked for
was Civil War battlefields.
Because to actually get a large acreage
like we had, 250, 300 acres of land
without any kind of foliage
that we had to move,
it took us maybe a month to find it. We had a few options,
but the place we found was probably by far
the best location we could’ve found. Immediately upon coming here,
we decided we’ve got to use this place,because it’s so diverse,
it’s got so many different looks.
You’ve got prairie land and pastures
and big fields.
Some rolling hills which is hard to find
in southern Louisiana where it’s so flat.So we’re getting a lot of value
out of this one location
to double as locations on the
east coast, Virginia and Pennsylvania,
and it’s turning out
to be pretty successful.
I talked to many people
who’d worked on the recreation battles from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War,and it was always, “Find the reenactors,
let them do the heavy lifting,
“and bring in the extras and supplement.”So that was our game plan
from the start of the show.
My responsibility is to make sure that
I get as many guys in here as possiblewho can truly authenticate the Civil War.To come in to help train the background
guys to use their weapons the right way
along with props and all the armory guys
and things like that.
DAVE SULLIVAN: There were
so many extras brought into this
that had no concept of military formation,
especially in this time period.
So we as the reenactment community
would help them learn the drill,as far as not only the marching maneuvers
and the firing demonstrations,
or the firing, in this case.The proper way and mainly the safe way
so nobody was getting hurt. Little bit further. Little bit.AUDOUY: We really relied
with the reenactors
to come in and work with us
to create a camp using their own tents and cots
and blankets. Yeah, if you can move some tents
in the center.AUDOUY: So 80% of it is actually provided
by the reenactors.
Then we came in, we did our pass
on top of it to augment it
and just push it over,
make it that much more dynamic.JOHN J. KELLY: It’s an inspiring thing
when you come to work
and there are 700 extras there,
dressed in vintage outfits.
It’s like a rock concert in a way.You start to appreciate what these guys
put together on these big venues.
But to have 700 extras
and a couple hundred more crew,
it takes a lot of planning
in terms of safety, bathrooms, food,
wardrobe, makeup,
and so you have a full sort of community that comes in, sets up,
brings these extras in,changes them into that period,
gets them ready,
gets them on the battlefields
in an hour or two hours,
and lets them run around for 12 hours
with guns and cannons and explosions.
And at the end of the night,
cleans them up,
takes off the facial hair,
takes off the wigs,
stores the costumes back up and
gets it ready again for the next morning.
So, out of the entire movie,those are three of the more
intense production days we had.
Just because we’re working
around daylight, we had a limited amount of time to do it. It was the largest amount of people
we had at one location.AUDOUY: So, we had the Union camp,
the Confederate camp,
we also built the platform
for the Gettysburg Address there.
And we got really lucky there
because on the day,
it was just such a terrific day
with dramatic clouds
that really were a provocative backdrop
for Lincoln’s words.That really was kind of a magical day.…remaining before us… that from these honored dead we take
increased devotion… Timur is doing this
in such a period specific way. And everything down to the little details,
everything is specific to the period.And it’s kind of remarkablewhen you look at the amount of detail
that they’re putting into it,
to think that that is a vampire movie.(GRUNTING)BEKMAMBETOV: The audience,
probably 99%, they don’t care.
But they feel that it’s real,
they feel that it’s not a lie. It was very important for this movie,because we are trying to open
the secret page of Lincoln’s story.
And it means the first page has to be real,
otherwise everything will be fantasy.
It’s not pretending to being
a great lecture on history.And it’s not an all-out action,
blood and horror movie.
It’s got a mix which I think, personally,
makes it very, very entertaining.
MIC RODGERS: We’re not doing
the typical stylistic action.
It’s a martial arts film, in a way,
but it’s a little more gritty.So we’re trying to mix the two worlds
of slick Hong Kong
and bare-knuckles knockdown drag out,and then Timur
will throw his slant on it in post.
BEKMAMBETOV: Yes. Cut. Good.BEKMAMBETOV:
The action is unusual, I think.
The action is a continuation of the drama.(GRUNTING) It’s not a separate thing, like,
“Okay, this is the story, this is the action.”If you understand exactly
why this character
is fighting against his opponents,then the action scene
becomes a poetical way
of how to develop this conflict.And also, it means what kind of weapons
these people use and how they fight.
(LAUGHING) (YELLS) I can do that all day.WALKER”. Luckily, we had
an amazing stunt team.
And these gentlemen not only taught me
a new martial art form, they created one,
which is something
that is unique to this movie and unique to Lincoln,
which involves ax fighting. DON L. LEE:You’re gonna see things
that I bet you would think are CGI
but they’re not. It’s really Ben doing it.
That’s the cool part about this.There’s a lot of, “Hey, how did he spin
that thing around his back
“or around his neck?”Or, “How did he do that rotating around
his whole body with no hands? It’s CGl.”
No, that’s Ben.(GRUNTING)GRAHAME-SMITH: One of the keys,
if not the key, to this film
working or not working was Ben.And not only being
a classically trained actor and being a guy
who came from the theater,but he also has the physicality
that the part requires.
He was able to do all the ax work,
he was able to do all the fighting.
That’s the kind of thing
that special effects can’t quite cover. You have to do that. That’s not something
that you can really fake too much.So not only did he have to learn
the Gettysburg Address
but he learned how to twirl an ax. So he had full training. I don’t think anybody’s seen some
of the things we’re doing in the movie in movies before. Particularly the ax. The image of the ax
we associate with Honest Abe and here it is a weapon of vengeance. The ax is the hero prop of the movie.
The ax and the hat. You can’t have Lincoln
without the huge hatand you can’t have the vampire hunter
without the ax.
(GRUNTING)This particular ax was done
in the style of 19th century forge.
Completely custom made
with a hickory handle.
And this is a real, heavy steel ax
that you could use to take down a tree. We have the heavy rubber
that can be used for stunts. But it’s a little bit lighter,
it can be flipped and do all the stuff. Then we’ve got
the very soft rubber version that you can hit somebody with. It’s completely safe. They do a lot of cool things with the ax. The ax is not just an ax.There’s a bayonet in the ax,
there’s a shotgun in the ax.
You use the blade as your grip and that allows you to fire one round
at your opponent. We’ve got trick axes,
we’ve got chopping axes,we’ve got rubber axes,
we’ve got spinning axes.
We’ve got more axes
than you can shake a stick at. You’ll never see a person use an ax
like this, that’s for sure, in any movie.BEKMAMBETOV:
He’s unbelievable with the ax.
What Ben Walker did, he’s very unique.He’s physically so good.And he learned, he spent three months
just to learn how to manipulate the ax. And it’s like a circus, you cannot imagine
that a person can do it. The ax flies around. LEE:He’s the guy who
would come in, train for eight hours,
and then later on that night,would still be twirling the ax
while he’s watching televisionor just hanging out.And throughout the weeks
and throughout this show
you’ll see Ben just carrying the ax
and just swinging it along.
It’s become second nature,
it’s a part of him.
WALKER”. I hit myself
in the head with it a lot. Trial and error.
Dropped it, hit stunt guys,
mostly made a mess of things.RODGERS: It’s not physically simple to do.It’s like baton twirling with a sharp blade.You got to be really… You can hurt people.But he’s just fabulous.
He’s really doing a great job.
MAN: And action. (YELLS) MAN: Cut. Nice. MAN: Wow.BEKMAMBETOV:
I had an unbelievable stunt team.
A friend of mine from Russia, Igor Tsay,he and his team in Kazakhstan,they developed all the fights in Kazakhstan
and shot it. Me and my team
worked on it for five, six months.We were creating,
just making a list of ideas,
taping it, editing it, sending it to Timur,and he was giving comments about that
and we made changes.
And then when we had some moments,
elements, ideas, then we had a team in Moscow,
they rotoscoped these movementsand created the 3D modelsrepeating what
the people in Kazakhstan proposed. And then, when I had a 3D fight
in a 3D spacethen I could put cameras
and figure out how to shoot this fight.
Then I presented it to my actors.And they rehearsed here
with Mic Rodgers and his team.Then they had their own interpretation
of this fight.
(GRUNTS) But, mainly, the whole idea was born
in Kazakhstan, of the fighting scenes, then developed in Moscow,
executed in New Orleans.MACKIE: This is the pan’
where we realize we’re dinners.
Abraham Lincoln comes in
to save me from my demise. – MAN: One, two, three, twist!
-(WOMAN SCREAMING) What I need to see here
is I need to see he’s struggling, then a splash of the blood in his costume, -he looks where light…
– Okay. B mark. And action! It’s basically me
just doing what I can to try and stay alivebefore I’m eaten.(GRUNTING) Ahhh! IGOR TSAY:For Will,
we created Capoeira fighting.
Capoeira style came from Africa.It was forbidden for all these guys
to study martial artsso, historically, they turned it into a dancejust to hide that it is a martial art.MACKIE: For me,
once I realized what’s going on,
it’s just fighting to get myself
out of the situationtill Abraham Lincoln comes in
to save the day.
Tonight we’re killing vampires
in the ballroom. Obviously, blood, guts, death all around. Lincoln is trying to save the day. (YELLS) With this. The ballroom set
posed a unique set of difficulties. The first thing being
that when we all looked upwe were supposed to see this beautiful
dome-like structure
with this wonderful painting inside of it.And the painting comes to lifeand the vampires come out of that painting
and land on the set
and this fantastic battle takes place.We’re gonna have guys jumping down
from the ceilings up here.We have about six guys recycling,so we have about 12 drops
that we’re doing.
This bit is great. This fly is great. And he lands. – He only has to be at the landing.
– Got it. Just to get through the fight tonight we’re gonna go ahead
and have these guys imitate as if they did come off the ledge. We’re just doing it off the steps
to establish them in the shot and then we will get into
the first few beats of the fight, which was seeing how badass Lincoln is. This is Abe’s peak. This is right as he’s at his best,
in terms of a vampire,he’s at his best at being an assassin.Timur’s idea was to create
a waltz of death. You know waltz, it’s one, two, three,
one, two, three, one, two, three.And Timur wanted to create the fight
that will match this tempo, musical tempo.
So one, two, three, one, two, three,
one, two, three. MAN: Playback, please. B mark. (BALLROOM MUSIC PLAYING) We’re set. Ready and action. Then when I saw it I thought,
“Oh, yeah. That’s great.”WALKER”. What’s exciting about that is,
we worked on that fight in its entirety.
We didn’t do it in chunks.The stunt guys at least had enough faith
or were crazy enough
to let me do the whole thing
as a one-piece.
That was a lot of fun for mebecause you’re just lopping off heads
and hands and legs
and flying off of walls.It’s what you imagine doing
when you’re six years old
and you’re out in the woods with a stick.But for some reason I get paid to do it. MAN: Action, please.MATT KUTCHER: The Vadoma scene
is extremely technical.
After this great battle has ensued,there’s a chair that lands over Abraham
Lincoln’s head, basically, and shoulders.
And Vadoma lands from the ceiling
on top of him.
LEE:Basically, what we’ll see
is Vadoma doing a flash kick to Abe
sending him towards Adam. And in midair
Adam’s throwing a chair at her,she catches the chair
and lands right on top of Lincoln.
TSAY: We spoke with Timur about this gag,and he liked the ideathat Vadoma should be like an athlete, when an athlete runs
and makes a long jump. He’s doing this gag
like one, two, in the air, three.And we wanted
to use the same gag with Vadoma.
I’m a very physical person by nature. Soto go in and throw kicks and
to learn the martial arts aspect of ithas been really, really fun.Obviously, some of the more technical
and difficult things
and any time things are rigged
and there’s cords and lines involvedthen the pros take over.But it’s been really fun
to go into that element as well.I have this extraordinary stunt double
named Shauna,
who with her skills
and what I brought to the scene
creates such an extraordinary feat
of (CHUCKLES) entertainment. She drives the chair like this. (INDISTINCT CHATTERING)KUTCHER: Some of the methodology
is to shoot it forward
and some of the methodology
is to shoot it in reverse. So when you see these precision landings, they’re not precision landings
they’re precision take-offs.So the chair is
placed in the correct position,
the stunt actress
is placed in the right place, Ben is really placed in his position,and the shot is done in reverse.We pull them off
and do the flips and spins,
and then, by not real magic
or any magic at all,
we just reverse the film.LEE:It was about four or five hours
of rehearsal, timing out the chair.
What happens is that she goes
up in the air, does the flash kick, spots the chair, grabs the chair,throws it between her legs
and lands on Lincoln.
So it was a pretty intense processbecause you want to go ahead and see
what is the best thing we can do with the amount of time that we had.And we were able to pull it off.(LAUGHING) I usually have that effect on women.
Whoo! (ALL LAUGHING) TSAY:Right now we’re shooting
the final beat of the ballroom
when Speed saves Lincoln and Will.The crazy carriage ride, coach ride.And tomorrow
we’ll start the silver train sequenceand we’ll start
from Will shooting vampires.
Vampires attack. MAN: Thank you, ready and action! TSAY:This moment Timur wants to make
alittle bit horror style.So vampires break through the walls
and they grab Will
and Will is trying
to shoot through the walls.
He cannot see the vampires
but he can feel it.Sometimes he shoots the wall
but no one’s there.
And one vampire grabs him from behind.So it a very messy fight, little bit callous, but it is a horror fight, a horror scene. (YELLS) LEE:There’s one gag
that I love on the silver train,
it’s when this vampire
that’s hiding in the ceilingsurprises the audience,
it jumps on Lincoln.
The side doors open in the box car and the guy’s about to bite Lincoln,grabs his hand, puts the ax on the handle,shoulder throws the vampire,closes and at the same time
smashing his head off. This kind of stuff, I think, is great. Nice.KUTCHER: I think
on the train sequence for Mic,
I think his most important thing
was getting the actors to do
as much as they could in camera.As much as we can make
the train move safely
with the actors integrated
with our moving train,
the better the performances.So the audience doesn’t see
a green screen performance,
that they’re acting on a box.Here, they’re really acting
on full-scale trains,
although on a stage,
that are moving the way they should.
WALKER”. You get on the top of a train car
in a big green warehouse,
and then the stunt guys rig up half a dozen
to a dozen stunt fighters.
And they’re all gonna try and kill you. They put a rubber ax in your hand
and say, “Good luck.” – Looks perfect, he’s 55 years old.
– Right. When Will and Lincoln
are fighting together with one ax,it’s two friends and they have
only one weapon, only one ax.
If I’m Lincoln,
I’m chopping the vampire head
and I have to continue the movement
to transfer my ax to my friend,
and he will chop the head
of another vampire and give it to me.It has to absolutely be like one organism,
like one person.
Profile. Wide shot here.
Then he spends time… (INAUDIBLE)BEKMAMBETOV’. AISO, the action formis a playful way how to
describe the relationship.They’re ready to die for each other,
they feel each other is their friend.
Next bit. (YELLING) (GROANS) TSAY:It’s good to have this opportunity
to work this way.
When there’s a great idea
and when everybody works,puts his effort to make it real.I think the best way to describe,we’re all big kids
and we’re having fun making a movie.
We all, basically, try to work as a team
and collaborate ideas,
and try to come up with the best fight
we can possibly do.
MACKIE: The great thing about
these big movies is those action sequences.
You just get to go as far as you canand learn new styles of fighting
and just do everything you wanna do.
And you just feel like,
you go home at the end of the day
and you can beat up anybody in the world. But you can’t, ’cause it’s not real. MAN: Ready and bite! Ahhh! (YELLS) When I read the script for the first time,
given the vast scope, it was totally overwhelming.It was probably my first initial instinct
of the massive amount of makeup
that was gonna be required for it.It was a double whammy.
It’s almost two movies at once.
We’ve got the crossover
with the special effects makeup,
and also the period that we need to try
and keep as best as we can. It all obviously started
with getting Ben cast as Lincoln. Then everything else kind of fell in place. But we knew we were gonna
have to take a series of ages for all the characters through the film,because we cover such
a large time span of Lincoln’s life.
So it was a lot of trying to figure outwhat ages were gonna
take place in the script.And we kind of ended up landing
in two spots really in the story.
Probably two-thirds of the film,
he’s in his 20s, early 30s.
And for the latter half of the film,
he’s anywhere from 50 to 56.So we used the same makeup
that we designed for the 52 makeup
with a different makeup
on top of those appliances
to make him look younger,
slightly younger, 50 and no beard.And then when he grew his beard,and then during his presidency,
he has the beard
and we carry that through to 56
to his assassination.
So those were the two main looks.We also designed a 40 between
the debate with Stephen Douglas.
That’s pretty serious makeup,I think everything covered his forehead,
cheeks, chin, nose and upper lip.KELLY”. I’m amazed with Ben.I think we were
very blessed with having Ben do this role,
because you have to have a lot of patience being the person in the chair
for three hours or five hours.So, when Ben’s young, as a young Abe,
it’s a two-and-a-half to three-hour process
of hair and makeup and wardrobe.Then when he’s older Abe,
that is a five-hour job.
So if we start at 11:00,
he’s in before any of us are even awake. There have been times
where we’re shooting at 7:00 a.m.and he’s at work at 1:00 am.
starting his process.
We’d show up about six hours
before everybody else got there. And you get really comfortable
in the makeup chair. And you sit there and try not to freak out. It’s pretty much my life
for about four months. WILLHUFF: First stage, we have to put
abald cap on Ben to push his hair down.We don’t wanna see his hair.The bald cap gives us
more forehead space
for the appliance that goes on top of that.So we mat his hair down
as flat as we can get it.
Then we put the bald cap
that pushes the hair down even further.
And then we start with his chin
and we move to his nose and upper lip.
And then we do cheek, cheek,
and then forehead on top of that.
And then ears and then eye bags.Greg was so nice because he rigged up
a little television on the mirror. So I’m not just staring into the void
for hours and hours. And we watched movies,
we made it as comfortable as possible. He’ll sit, watch one or two movies. Two movies
when we’re doing the old makeup, (LAUGHS) and one movie
when we’re doing the young makeup.Sometimes it works where you can shoot
the actor Monday, Wednesday, Friday,
in the makeup, and you have a day off
to turn the actor around,
or to give their skin a break.Ben is nearly in every scene in this film,
all the way through. There’s not many… When I looked at the original breakdown,
I was like, “He’s in this.”He’s either in the old age makeup
or he’s in the young makeup
every single day in this picture.So we knew that was gonna be
a monumental challenge.
It was a huge rush because it’s so meticulously applied
and so flexiblethat it becomes your face.HUFF”. You have to be careful.You’re creating a character
that everyone recognizes
from the penny and the $5 billand everything else that you’ve learned
when you were in school.
And Ben Walker is an actor
who has a face,
and you have to be careful
not to lose him in that makeup.
So we had to be very careful
about introducingwhat Abraham Lincoln looks like
and still keep Ben in that makeup.
WALKER”. It certainly becomes you.It’s one thing to pretend you’re someone
and play a different character.
It’s another thing to truly change
your entire visage.You catch a glimpse of yourself
in the mirror
and it really informs you
and changes you internally
and half the work’s done for you.Just getting all the glamorous stuff, huh?HONAGH CUSH: When I first saw him,
I just think that he looks phenomenal
and he just carries it incredibly well.It’s hard for a young person
to carry off an old man
and he does it straightaway. I think, instantly as he’s going
into that character and it’s covering him,I think it helps him. I’m sure it does.I say for makeup, we should start close. So if it starts to melt, we can back out.WALKER”. I was lucky to go
to a great conservatory.
I got to go to the Juilliard School.And there, it’s a very classical
training program. And then you have a lot of training
in mask and neutral mask.When you’re going to school there,
you think, “When am I ever gonna use this?”
And lo and behold, here we are,
and it is mask work.
It’s developing a relationship
with you and the mask, and with what people see
and what it feels like, and using all those tools
to tell the story that you’re trying to tell.So that kind of training
has really lent itself nicely to this.
BURTON: I’ve dealt with
a lot of characters
that have makeup on them over the years.And every actor I’ve ever worked with saidit unleashes something
from inside of them that they wouldn’t have ordinarily had.And especially a character
that’s iconic as Lincoln.
I think it’s a way
to really become that character.
GRAHAME-SMITH: Ben not only
has the acting chops,
but he kind of eerily looks the part.You put that nose on him and you do his hair up a little,all of a sudden you buy that
that’s a young Abraham Lincoln.
And then certainly, later in the film,
when he’s in the complete makeup,
you really buy that
that is the 16th President.
(CHEERING)WALKER”. It’s one thing to use prosthetics
and do an acting scene,
it’s another thing to use prosthetics
and do a fight scene.
So that was complicated and difficult,
but nothing like seeing the dailies
and seeing how magnificent it looks
to really make you suck it up. It was really worth it. MAN 1: Ready, and action! (GRUNTING) – MAN 2: One more.
– MAN 1: Do another one! Our vampires were actually
our stunt guys. And we had to make 10 stunt guys
look like 50 stunt guys.Some of the stunt guys
were doubling our principals,
and so we would tell them
to grow their hair.
And then the next day, they were gonna be
a stunt guy in the ballroom, and so we had to shave that off
and then add something else to make them look different. But then, they’d go back to being
the Henry stunt double the next day.So we really had to change the look
for all these stunt guys.
So, hopefully, they won’t recognizethat they’re all the same people
throughout the show.
(BABBLING)HUFF”. There was a lot of debate
and discussion
where we were gonna go
with the vampires.
Originally, the book has them
as demon vampires. They have black eyes. We were told very early on by Timur
that he wanted to keep this as… The whole scope of the film
as almost a part of history, that it could be
a believable part of history.So he told us very early, “No monsters.”So we stuck with the idea that
if they are plantation ownersand they have to pass as humans
down the street,
you would never think twice that they
were anything other than a human being.We had to stay very, very subtle.BEKMAMBETOV: Like in every
vampire movie, they have pale skin
and they have blue veins.But overall, there is no goal for me to say, “Oh, I’m making something new. “I’m doing vampires
you’ve never seen before.” Because, otherwise if I do it,
I will lose the more interesting contrastbetween traditional genreand traditional biopic. MAN: Cover her face. Yeah, that’s it.
Right behind you. (BLOOD SPLATTERING)HUFF: So many vampire films
have been done. What can you do different,
now that you can’t use appliances
to change them
into some type or form of monster?And it’s like…
It seems to be pretty typical, veins.And we went through…
We’re gonna do varicose vein designs.
We had these very squirrely kind of veinsthat went around to different places
on their face.
And we’re gonna do stretch and stipple
and age their faces.
So when they morphed from humans
into these vampires, that they would have kind of an old look. Um, and again, Timur kept coming back
over and over again saying, “Subtle, very subtle, very subtle.” And so we went really subtle to the point
of where he just wanted painted veinsthat were very light, that you could see
beneath the skin as their day look.
And then as they morph into vampires,then we have a much substantial
vein patterns that go on on their faces.
I designed the pre-vamped-out look which,when I spoke with Timur,
he didn’t want them to stand out,
but he wanted something
creepy about them.
So they were slightly different.
So, of course,
we went for the pale look,
the sunken eyes.
We very lightly brushed in some veins,
try to just make them look sickly,
but without them looking obviously sickly,
just something creepy looking.
And then when they’re
completely vamped out,
the stage was that these
three dimensional veins were applied, and then they did a full airbrush paintjob
with bigger veins, lenses, teeth.And that was taken care of.Greg Cannom designed that
and then we executed it for him.
HUFF”. The process is about
an hour-and-a-half.
And Steve Prouty, one of the guys
that works with us,
he came up with the process
for creating vein patterns.
And it’s a very interesting process,but basically it’s kind of tattoo transfers
that you put on your skin.You wet them on the back side
and they stick.
So that same process,
and then they have a nice, light paint job.
So they go from a natural skin tone
to kind of a light skin tone.
Like any road map, you can actually
put them on top of one other and create really interesting patterns.So they’re almost like
a jigsaw puzzle of veins
that you can put together on each person,
try to make them look different. Because we knew that
we had 10 core stunt guysthat were gonna have to replicate
different vampires all the way through.
So we couldn’t create one set of patternsthat you could obviously see
with the same people over and over again.
So we decided to come up with
different patterns for different…
So we could multiply them
and make 10 vampires out of one guy.
(LAUGHING)(BUSH: The other thing that was difficult
for this show was that
we were based here, but then shot
for three weeks on different locations.So every single location
we were wrapping down,
had to pack everything up
and move it to our next location.
Let’s move. Yeah, let’s move, guys. When we shot both Gettysburg
and Civil War, first and second units, we had an entire tent of people
that was devotedto just doing the vampires
that would be on the battlefield.
And then we had us
and another group of people
doing all the people
that needed to be in background,
plus Abe played
in the big makeup that day.
EDOUARD HENRIQUESIll:Around here you’ll see makeup artistsputting on hairpieces, wounds, cuts,making them into dead bodies,
everything we needed to do.
The scene that we’re shooting which is the vampires coming through the fire
of the Union soldiers. Cut, cut, cut, cut. Good. – MAN 1: Thank you.
– MAN 2: Anytime. ELVISJONES: This is our first day
of the big battle scenes.
We’re shooting all our battle scenes
in four days.
And what we’re doing here
is a lot of gore prosthetic effects. A lot of the dead bodies,
necks torn out, things like that,that we can drag out there
and dress this field with,
things that are a little more far gonethan an extra can do
or something like that.
We are the Union. Yes. And we were killed by vampires.JONES: It’s a lot of chaos, because there’s
so many extras, there’s so much going on.
And you just need to be prepared
for everything and just stand bytill it’s your turn up,
and once it’s your turn up, it’s more chaos.
Feels a lot better now.
Pepto-Bismol, a little aspirin, effectively brought me back to life.HUFF”. I think, overall, there’s a challengejust in the scope of what we had to
actually put together for those days.
You just have an enormous group
of people that you have to get done
within a certain amount of time
and get them out there.
So you got to hire
a good group of folks around you,
normally people
that you’ve worked with before,
to be able to organize these large days. Plop yourself right in there.But we were lucky enough that we got
all the people that we wanted to bring in
and everybody did a phenomenal job. It’s a very dynamic move. Let’s move.AUDOUY: Timur is such
a visual director.
We sat down together and spent
a lot of time together in preproduction,
just drawing and sketching
and coming up with illustrations, and ideas that really would
play out well in the frame. From other side, can you show me?AUDOUY: He’s got
a tremendous graphic sensibility
that I was trying to convey
through the set design. And he’s also got a very quirky
and fun way of seeing the world. You can’t pay for a style. And that’s what Timur has. He’s got a certain way of doing things
which money can’t buy.It’s something that only
a person can bring to it.
(STAMMERING) We’re gonna do
one more take. Some people are “less is more” people. Timur is a “more is more” kind of guy.And he does only what he can, I think.He invents these insanely fun,
incredibly visual pieces of action
and then supplements them
with all that detail.
Either one or both inside.
Let’s do separately. Timur comes from
a production design background. He’s extremely visually orientated.You can look at a lot of his sketches,and sometimes when he’s unable
to articulate something verbally,
he’ll be able to sit down and sketch it out
for you in a matter of seconds,which is really great to work with
from any director.
We don’t have shots like this.
It’s a totally new thing. (LAUGHS)DESCHANEL: Most of
the communication with Timur
was with drawings and pictures
that he’d done.
And it was sort of a visual communication. It’s almost silent in a way.And I think that a lot of our relationship,
a lot of Timur and my relationship
was non-verbal, it was much more visual.It was more Timur saying,
“No, no, no,” or “Yes, yes, yes.”
INDARDZHENDUBAEV: Every time when
he explains something to people,
it’s not because he can’t explain it
by the language. No.
It’s much better when he grabs paper
and starts to draw,
and starts to explain to people,and start to understand that something
can be better.
And he forgets about everybody.
And he goes, “This is good.” And everybody says,
“Okay, so not this.” “No, no. This is better.” And there’s five or six versions
and he goes and goes and goes,and starts to understand that it is great.– Rolling. He lands. Boom! And rolls again.
– Okay. Timur always wants to do
what has not been done. He wants to create an image
that hasn’t been seen.He wants to kill someone
in a way they’ve never been killed.
And that’s very exciting,because then you’re not just
hitting people with an ax.
You’re doing something very specificand the more specific something is,
the more fun it is for an actor. Timur’s really great, because
he’s one of those guys that… He opens a floor for discussion,
he wants to see everything.So whatever ideas you had,
you can give him three or four options.
And he goes, “I love it.”And he’ll take the best ideas
of those options and make something better out of it. Okay, we can do it now. You throw the ax… He wasn’t ready, he said. LEMLEY:What makes Timur
a great action director is that
he approaches action from a perspective.In other words, he’s bringing
a perspective that I never considered.And subsequently,
the imagination’s wide open, full throttle.
And from that comes something amazing,
something you never saw before.
Don’t stop. Start right away.MICHAEL OWENS: He obviously wants
the story to be moving forward,
but he wants it to be a ride,
a visual ride and a visceral ride, and at the right moments
and beats of the movie,and his driving force
of just making it better.
(YELLS) CRAIG LYN:From Timur’s visual style,
there’s lots of things he’s known for.
His signature, for example,
speed ramps is one of them. On this film, we decided early on that
we wanted to try out a few things.We’ve shot a lot with the Phantomwhich was technically challenging
in and of itself.
The great thing about it though is thatyou could be shooting upwards
of 1,000 frames per second,
and then we could be ramping
in and out of those.
I need a static.
(IMITATES A WHIRRING SOUND) Because everything’s shot in high speed.DESCHANEL: Timur was infatuated with it.I think if he could shoot the whole movie
with a Phantom at 1,000 frames a second,
he would’ve done it.And it is really fascinating
to look at what you get,
but it’s only a small part of storytelling.He loves using slow motion
and I think this helps a lot to focus a viewer’s attention
on specific momentsthat Timur wants them to focus on.This is also very, very important to him.(GROANING) During the editing process, we can create
speed ramps like you see in here, when he’s slowing down
to very, very extreme slow motion, uh, before he goes for a kill. (GRUNTING)For him, choreography of Abe
fighting with an ax like this
is what’s unique about this film.It’s an iconic American president
fighting with an ax, killing vampires.
So the choreography of an ax
is important to show in this movie.Also vampire blood,since we’ve spent a lot of time
developing what it’s supposed to look like. He shows those moments, he shows how the blood emerges from
the vampires in extreme slow motion. The other things that Timur likes to do
is to try and objectify the objects or give it, in some ways, a subjective feel.He loves the idea of zooming in on
an object or following an object along.
It makes it a more personal sort of feeling.It gives the audience an ideaof what’s it’s like to be
in the character’s shoes in some cases. Ben, if you will stay here, it’ll be too tough for you
to be with one of them. LYN:Timur comes up with lots of ideas
and they come fast and furious.
And the trick is obviously
keeping up with them.
So we’d be getting boards
on the day of shooting and things like that.
Or some boards would be saying
since the beginning,
even in preproduction, saying,“These are some of the ideas
that we want.”
A lot of them were thumbnail sketchesthat he’d just scribble
on the back of a napkin
or full on sequences
that we’d see from start to finish, saying, “This is the beats that
we’re trying to achieve there.”DESCHANEL: On all the action sequences,
it was all storyboarded
and laid out really well.And it was really valuable
for those sequences,
so that you didn’t make a mistakeand miss something that was
really crucial to telling the story.DZHENDUBAEV: For Timur,
storyboarding is not just fixing,
like you fix the ideas on the paper.Storyboarding for Timur is the process,
it’s not the result. It’s the process
when you can find something that you really don’t understand. I’m drawing my storyboards. Usually it’s a concept,
it’s a conceptual thing.And then, Indar is great.(SPEAKING RUSSIAN) Just nod. Just smile and nod.BEKMAMBETOV:
He’s very unique because
he’s not a storyboard artist
who’s just drawing pictures, he’s a storyboard artist
who is interpreting.He can develop ideas.And I trust him and he understands
better than anybody what I’m looking for.
Every time he thinks about the audience,
every time he thinks, “Is it like a roller-coaster
or is it like diving?“Let’s do this scene
like diving in an ocean.”
And now I understand what he means.
It’s like something mystical,
but roller-coaster, it’s like “Whoo-hoo!”And you don’t know when you fall,
when you go up, when you go down.
And now you also understand
precisely what he wants. LYN:He’ll start with an idea
or a specific gag
and then work it into an entire sequence.For example, in the stampede sequence, he really loved the idea
that he’s kind of out in the ocean.It sounds like a really strange sort of thing
that Abe is surrounded by a sea of horses
and it’s all these rolling hills
off into the background
that are covered in horses.That was one of his big motifs
just from a visual point of view that he kept on going back into, or being on a freeway
in the middle of the night.So for example, Abe is sitting
or standing there in the field,
and by him come these cars
or horses rushing past.
And they’re coming out of the smoke
or the fog and he can’t see anything.
That’s kind of the motif that he builds on.BEKMAMBETOV:
We developed the stampede idea,
it was a key action scene of the moviebecause it’s how this movie happened. Because we made a pre-visualization
of this scene, we made it in Moscow.And so, we developed this whole scene
and we presented it to Fox Studios,
and everybody understood
that it’s a movie.
Then we found the best people
who can execute it,because unfortunately we cannot shoot
a scene with 1,000 horses.
It’s almost impossible now. And we found people who can make it.
It’s Weta Studio in New Zealand and almost, I don’t know,
all the horses, the environment is digital.OWENS: Weta doing all the horses,
they did a brilliant job with the horses.
Just you’d never think
for a second that they weren’t real.
And you could never be
in that environment to shoot that stuff,
and yet, hopefully, it feels real. LYN:All of the beats
taking place on horseback,
we shot on a green screen stage.And so we built two mechanical gimbals
that were covered in green,green all around,and we had our actors doing
the majority of their stunts actually.
I think they did 90% of the stunts
themselves on the green screen gimbals.
So there was a lot of wire-work,
it was fantastic, and we shot that over the course
of around two-and-a-half days. So these are all… You can see pre-vis
still left in here at the moment. Virtual horses, virtual environment,
some virtual characters right there.Virtual characters that were shot real,
but without real horses.
You could never photograph
a scene like this
both from a safety standpoint
and just a physical standpoint. I like digital creations, because I can do whatever I want,
whatever I can imagine. – Let’s move on because I think it’s good.
– Let’s move on. Let’s move on. Next bit.GRAHAME-SMITH: A lot of
the bigger moments in the film
are just born out of Timur’s imagination.We’d be sitting across each other
at a table
and he would have an image in his head or an idea or something
that he wanted to accomplish and we would talk about it. One of the big ones, obviously,is the train sequence
at the end of the film.
(GRUNTING) (GRUNTS) LYN:We broke it up
into two different parts.
One is the actual train on the bridge,
which is the CG train.The bridge is on fire,
it’s falling, it’s splintering.
It’s fairly cut-and-dry in that sense,that you have a good idea
what night time looks like,
what a bridge on fire looks like
and what a train looks like.
It’s just executing which is the tricky bit.You wanna do it on a very grand,
epic scale that looks really cool.
So that was one of the big vis-effects
hurdles that we had to deal with. The other one which is actually,
funny enough, more challenging than that
was trying to find outwhat the look of the night
was gonna be on top of the train.
So, in other words, what it would look likefighting in smoke on the roof of the train
with lights flickering by
and embers zipping through the air.And that’s the trickier thing because
no one knows what that looks like,
and us coming up with a lookthat is both magical and
at the same time believable. (LAUGHS)And I think that was really successful
in a lot of ways.
Timur’s, probably…
His style couldn’t exist if it weren’t for the state-of-the-art
visual effects to a certain extent.And that’s true with camera as welland just what you can do
with stunts and things like this.
The state-of-the-art of that stuff
is really high, all those fields.
And he’s got a great sandbox to play in.English – US – SDH