I’ve accumulated dozens of behind-the-scenes books about film production, several of them about the making of “Terminator 2” (I’m a huge fan of Terminator 2!). This book, “The Making Of Terminator 2 Judgment Day“, is different from others I own as it appears written during the production of the movie as opposed to several years later. It also contains several unseen on-set photos showing before, during and after filming.
There are a handful of diary-style entries in the book giving the reader an instant idea of what was happening that day, as if you were standing on-set yourself. A poignant example is an entry dated 16th January 1991 (page 101), where a dream sequence involving Sarah and Kyle Reese inside Room 19 at Pescadero State Hospital discuss the future war and how weak Sarah really is (originally cut from the theatrical release, now included in the Special Edition). Actor Michael Biehn stands in a dreamy fog and says “There’s not much time left in the world, Sarah”. As it turned out on that day over in the Gulf, Operation Desert Storm had begun. This set a sombre mood across the entire crew, with the very real threat of a new and very real war brewing on the horizon. Watch the film again, and you’ll see Biehn really meant his line.
There are also some photos in this book that I haven’t seen in others, such as behind-the-scenes of some of the miniature shoots by Fantasy II and 4-Ward Productions for the Future War shots and the Nuclear Dream shots. There’s also photos showing the action and scenes being shot but also included are the cameras and crew. A true capture of the film-making process.
There’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask James Cameron, which is;
Did you deliberately shoot certain scenes early with Edward Furlong , so as to have him appear as young as possible on-screen?
It appears that several times in the movie Furlong looks younger in vulnerable situations, and older in places where he displays a Leadership role. But was that deliberate?
***See update at the end of the blog!***
To explain a bit further, most movies are not shot the way they appear in the final film, ie “in sequence”, normally due to time and money. (A note to add here; Stanley Kubrick shot The Shining in sequence and they over-ran in shooting time and way over budget). This book partially answers my question. The writers give several dates and clues along the way, giving the reader the ability to work out some of the shooting order.
Although the book doesn’t specifically answer my question, it did allow me to put together a timeline of the production schedule of where and when scenes were shot, and in what order. If you’re interested to know the shot order of Princapal Photography for Terminator 2, you can visually see it on this timeline over at Tiki-Toki.
Despite the negligible cons I’ve pointed out It’s still a book any budding film maker should have. It does give good insight into the Production for this feature, and there’s information in here on Terminator 2 that I hadn’t come across in similar books.
I’ve given it 4 out of 5 (Amazon review) based purely on the couple of times where information I’d just read appeared reworded and given again in another section. The photos are also mainly black and white, which is a shame. The book is also relatively short at 128 pages and abruptly concludes with what feels like a book-ended interview with James Cameron.
If you’re a fan of Terminator 2, a fan of James Cameron or purely interested in the production process of feature films I do highly recommend this book, regardless of the 4 star rating.
Here’s a look at the teaser trailer (shot in five days by the legendary Stan Winston on a strict budget of $150’000 as requested by James Cameron. It was shot using the original endoskeleton from the first Terminator movie);
**Update; Jan 2014** I now own a unique collection of original paperwork for T2, including the Shooting Schedule (plus all revisions) and the call sheets for every day of shooting. It answers my question regarding the order in which the film was shot!
A while back (January 2013) I supported a Kickstarter project to fund a feature film called “The Fitzroy” (I get a GAS MASK from the movie as one of the perks for being a backer!). To quote the Kickstarter website; “The Fitzroy is an independent, live action, feature film; a black comedy set in a post-apocalyptic 1950’s Margate. The world is covered in a poisonous gas and the Fitzroy Hotel (a beached submarine) is the last place for a traditional holiday. The hotel is sent into chaos when one of the guests murders the hotel’s owner. It is left to Bernard, The Fitzroy’s hapless bellboy, to keep the hotel from falling apart as he struggles to hide the murders from the other guests and the ever-suspicious authorities.”
When the project was funded I emailed the Production crew to offer my services with camera and recording kit on top of the funds I had already donated. I was pleased when they got back to me, asking if I could film some behind-the-scenes footage during the recording of the movie’s soundtrack with the Green Rock River Band. So in February I ended up in North London and got some great cut-away shots. After sending that footage off to them, they contacted me again to ask if I was free to shoot some more, and visit the actual submarine!
I’m not one to turn down that sort of chance-of-a-lifetime, and so I agreed. On Tuesday I travelled to Rochester to meet up with some of the production crew who were on a recce for the film. The submarine, an ex-Russian Foxtrot B-39, is 92 metres long and only 7.5 metres wide. It used to dive to 250m below with up to 77 souls onboard and stay submerged for up to 30 days at a time. It also carried 20 missiles…
I’ve been given permission to share some screen grabs from the raw footage, so here’s some shots from the day:
We are in an age where downloading pirate versions of the latest blockbusters is as easy as making a cup of tea. Let me be clear, however, that I do not condone piracy. But why on earth would anyone want to pay their hard-earned cash for a below-par cinema experience? Here’s a little blog about an experience at my local cinema watching Skyfall.
My main passion in life is cinema. The thrill of a movie experience comes down to being taken away to another world, connecting with the characters and being part of a crazy ride. At home, I’ve attempted to recreate the cinema experience with the big screen TV, surround sound system, comfy beanbags and popcorn. But it truly pales in comparison to a proper cinema visit.
Last night I had high hopes for watching Sam Mendes’ Skyfall in the best possible way and so headed to the local cinema. But my experience at Cineworld Feltham was truly shocking. I don’t know who designed the space for these screens, but it appears they have little to no experience in acoustics or aesthetics. It was appalling.
The floor had bags of popcorn strewn around the place. The projector screen was dirty with smear marks all over it. But the worst thing for me was the sound. During the commercials and trailers I noticed that something wasn’t quite right. The voices, which in a 5.1 surround sound system are meant to come from the central speaker below the screen, were coming mainly from the left of the cinema screen. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think they likely have a row of “central” speakers along the bottom of the screen. But only the very left-hand side one was working.
This sound problem causes a visual problem; if someone is talking on the right of screen you don’t expect to have their voice come from the left. It’s confusing and distracting. Imagine wearing headphones to listen to music and having all the lyrics in the left ear and the drums only in the right. You’d spot right away that something was wrong.
What was also worse was the volume of the sound. It was clearly too loud as the speakers were rasping and distorting during certain scenes. The volume should not distort the quality of the sound. There’s a good chance that the volume levels are what’s blown some of their speakers. Does anyone check these things?
The other aspect of this cinema was its shape. The best place to sit would ideally be somewhere near the back and central to the screen. Not only do you therefore get the best viewing angle, you are also positioned in the perfect place for the sound. But there are no seats in the centre area, because they chose to put the aisle right down the middle instead. So any position you watched the screen from was going to be at an angle to the screen. And in essence there are no back row of seats, as the cinema is in an L-shape! With the double-doors to the back-left of the cinema , the back three rows are only on the right hand side of the aisle! So anyone sitting there neither gets the best view of the screen nor decent sound as the left hand side speakers are blocked by the doors!
I’ve written a letter to the cinema asking the reasons behind the design of the screens and pointing out the problem with their sound. Here’s hoping someone takes notice.
To advertise in their own cinema that “piracy is a crime” is one thing, but to let someone sit through that sort of experience is another.
UPDATE: As of 8th February, more than 7 weeks after the letter was sent, there was still no response from Odeon regarding the above.