BEHIND THE SCENES
Sometimes the making of a film can be just as interesting as the film itself.
This is the evolving story of how The Last Guardian was filmed. Here you will see a behind the scenes look at the film process and the visual effects production. This is a brief overview however. A more in depth look at each process will be coming weekly in our blog posts if you want to dive in deeper into the process. Otherwise, enjoy this journey through the process of filmmaking!
Once the script is written, the most important part is finding the cast and crew. They are who will bring your story to life. So much hinges on them. While a lot of people think that acting is an easy job, it's actually very demanding both physically and emotionally. Thankfully on this project, we had a team up to the challenge from day one!
Once the cast is set, it's time to start practicing. For The Last Guardian, filming was scheduled to begin in early May of 2022, so the cast and crew started rehearsals in January. Now we weren't going out to set those days. It's very snowy here in Ontario, Canada during the winter months, so it was more about rehearsing the delivery and less about placement.
Of course one of the toughest aspects of a film like this isn't just the emotional acting but the intense fight scenes. This requires careful practice and preparation to make sure no one gets hurt. The lightsaber blades are hard and could definitely hurt someone if not careful. And it goes without saying that messing up a punch or kick will also hurt. So for this, the cast were given outlines of their moves and stunt sabers to practice with on their own time. Then weekly training began in early March. Each fight was practiced again and again, starting very slow and speeding up by the time filming began.
But what would a film be without amazing costumes to help transport our actors to a galaxy far far away? Pretty ridiculous that's what it would be. Thankfully the brother sister duo of Liam and Molly Heffernan were up to the task of designing the concept and fully bringing to life the dark lord of the Sith Aaylia, and her loyal Sith assassins. Aaylia's outfit was light but involved a special cloak and holster for her ceremonial dagger. As for the assassins, they had thick multi layered outfits with armor arm bands, as well as their masks. They looked amazing but would it ever got hot come fight time!
Finally there's makeup! This film would require extensive makeup work from designing wounds, cuts and bruises, to face art. These elements help add another layer to a character. Thankfully for us, our makeup artist Domonique Landry was up to the challenge, designing the look for Aaylia and Ilia, as well as all the fine details needed during the fights. Everything from a horrible stomach wound, to hair styles, and small face markings, these details can't be overlooked.
To capture this film required the design of a completely new camera rig, one that would be mobile, maintain the same high image quality we expected, and take advantage of existing gear because we are an independent studio. Can't go getting new cameras all the time. To that end, director Kyle Parish built a home made rig, balancing a Canon C200 cinema camera with a 24-70mm F2.8 lens, on a DJI Ronin S2, which was then supported on a Redking stabilizer, held by a Flycam Galaxy vest. The rig had hand controls for focus, recorded through a Atomos Ninja V, and supported two Rode microphones, one on the camera and the other boomed. It came in weighing over 40lbs!
Filming began on schedule on May 6th, 2022. Surprising no one, it was a cold start to shooting. Up to that point, we had been stuck in consistently below seasonal temperatures and lots of rain! Thankfully we would't have the deal with the rain, but it was chilly.
The cast and crew had blended well into a family group. Set was an extremely entertaining place to be with jokes always going on behind the camera. But everyone would return to character just in time for action to be called. This fun filled environment made shooting days seem to fly by.
To everyone's shock we were actually moving ahead of schedule! The long hours of practice and training were paying off, with scene after scene being nailed! Even the fights which were always going to be the biggest challenge, went off without much issues. Though there might have been a few sore muscles after
Before long the first week of filming was over and it had gone so smoothly you'd be forgiven for thinking nothing could go wrong...
The second week of filming started the exact opposite way. IT WAS HOT!!! Temperatures suddenly shot from the low to mid teens to the low thirties with humidity near forty degrees. Heat warnings were issued and they were not kidding. Everyone in those poor thick wool costumes were melting. A constant flow of water and Gatorade was on hand. Heat exhaustion was a real risk
And has if record setting May temperatures wasn't enough to make everyone feel uncomfortable, the mosquitoes hatched in record levels. Bug spray became everyone's best friend and even still, they would keep coming! The world decided it wanted to test our resolve, but we were up to the challenge.
But even with these new challenges, the cast and crew rose to the occasion. The performances did not suffer and everyone kept that energy from before, albeit with a lot more sweat and maybe a few dozen bug bites
The biggest challenge was still to come however. The main lightsaber fights were to be filmed and with the temperatures not letting up, the recipe was set for something to happen.
Fighting began and the heat was evident quickly. Hydration was the name of the game! Each person was pushing their bodies to the limits, but the results were amazing! But stop breaks were required.
Even with the heat and filming at a slower pace than had been scheduled, it still looked like production was going to wrap on schedule. There was a feeling of rushing to the finish line as we got later into the last day. It's something that should have been caught, as mother nature started to turn the tables on us yet again. As storm clouds entered and thunder roared in the distance the thought was, this is making for some amazing footage, which it was. Common sense was thrown out the window, we kept going.
Then it hit. In the middle of a shot, the winds whipped, the rain poured and the hail pelted down on us. We were trapped in the middle of a forest in what could only be described as a severe thunderstorm, with no shelter but some rocks and our script binders. And lets not even think about the camera gear that wasn't designed to handle downpours. Needless to say that brought filming to a wrap.
It was a time to step back and reflect on what could have been and be thankful for the fact that no one got hurt and amazingly all the camera gear survived! But now we were faced with a choice of how to proceed. The storms approach gave amazing footage that couldn't just be tossed aside. No we had to bring the storm back to finish the scene. So on the third week of filming, the actors were soaked, a consistent spray of water was added, and the storm that nearly cost us the film, was reborn!
In some ways we were fortunate that the storm happened, for it gave us a climax that we couldn't ever have imagined trying to film before. The storm forced us to get inventive, both on set and in post production, to make it a part of this final, and I'm very pleased to be able to say that we did just that. In fact the final shot before we cut for the storm might be the most intense shot I've ever had the pleasure of working on. And with that, filming wrapped on May 28th, with the cast and crew already asking when the script for the second part would be coming.
Enough can't be said about what an amazing job this crew did brining The Last Guardian to life. The small bits of behind the scenes stories above is just the tip of the iceberg and more will be covered in the in-depth behind the scenes blog. But I hope this gives you a small look at what we went through to bring this story to life.