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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Godzilla 2014 Production Notes - Possible Major Spoilers

From Monster Island News, these are said to be from a 48 page production notes sheet I won't post them in there entirety here because of possible major spoilers, you can read a small part of each and choose if you want to read it in full. Links after each section.



From Warner Bros

“The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control, and not the other way around.” —Dr. Serizawa

In 1954, Japan’s Toho Co., Ltd., released Ishiro Honda’s groundbreaking monster movie “Godzilla” in a country still reeling from the devastation of World War II. The film became a massive hit in Japan, and, 60 years later, continues to resonate around the world for distilling the fears and horrors of the atomic age into an awe-inspiring force of nature...Godzilla.

“‘Godzilla’ is the benchmark of monster movies,” says Gareth Edwards, the British director at the helm of the epic new vision for Toho’s iconic creation. Edwards grew up on Japanese monster movies before discovering Honda’s 1954 masterpiece on DVD and was fascinated by its stark allegorical subtext and continuing relevance in contemporary times. “If you went around the world with the silhouette of a giant dinosaur looming over a city, everyone would know exactly who it is—whether they’ve seen a Godzilla movie or not. But what many people don’t realize is that the original Japanese ‘Godzilla’ is actually a very serious film. I think that’s the reason it was so embraced by Japanese culture—because not only is it a great monster movie, it was also very cathartic for people to see those images brought to life on screen in such a visceral and real way.”

Partially reshot, softening some of its metaphorical bite, and dubbed into multiple languages, the film was released abroad two years later and a legend was born. For the past six decades, the towering “King of the Monsters” has cut a swath through pop culture, spawning numerous sequels, an army of toys, and incarnations in everything from comic books to video games. A whole new genre of movies emerged—kaiju eiga—and Godzilla became one of the most beloved and recognizable movie heroes of the 20th and, now, 21st centuries.

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From Warner Bros

“Godzilla” unfolds across multiple continents and spans several decades, tracing the impact of a series of mysterious and catastrophic events through the eyes of a handful of people caught at the epicenter. “Our film doesn’t tell this story from an omnipotent perspective,” Tull explains. “In the midst of this crisis are people whose lives are irrevocably changed by it. These aren’t super heroes, but regular human beings caught in extreme circumstances, which made casting such a vital component of our film.”

In this spirit, Edwards wanted to populate the film with actors who could deliver a level of performance that brought truth to the characters’ extraordinary journeys. “In a film like this, you get one buy, which is that there are giant monsters in the world,” he says. “The rest has to be as believable as possible, which is one reason I feel incredibly lucky with this cast. They were able to take what was on the page, bring it to life, and create an emotional reality that helps you believe everything else.”

For the cast, the combination of a cinematic icon and Edwards’ vision for his epic rebirth made “Godzilla” an irresistible prospect. “When Gareth and I first talked about the film, he told me to forget that it was a big monster movie,” recalls Aaron Taylor-Johnson. “I loved what Godzilla meant to him, and that he wanted to bring him to the screen in a big disaster spectacle, but to tell the story with a high level of artistry and emotion. That’s what made me want to do this project, and Gareth made the experience incredibly special.”

The actor takes on the central role of Ford Brody, a Naval officer specializing in disarming bombs, who has just reunited with his wife and young son in San Francisco when he is called away to help his troubled father in Japan.

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From Warner Bros

With a background in DIY filmmaking, Gareth Edwards plunged into the mammoth production with the same level of inspiration and resourcefulness he brought to his indie film “Monsters.” Gathering together artists whose work he’s long admired, the director found a team of inspired collaborators that both shared and enhanced his vision.

“When you get to make a movie like this, you can write a wish list of the best people in the world whom you’d like to work with, and I’ve been really lucky in that I got everybody at the top of my list,” he says. “All our department heads have changed cinema in their own way, and were all committed to making a profound, emotional, epic cinematic experience in the tradition of the films we grew up with. Those films are the reasons that we got into filmmaking in the first place. Everyone has been brilliant and incredibly supportive. This is my first big movie, and I kept asking, ‘Is this normal?’ It’s just been fantastic.”

Elizabeth Olsen notes that in spite of overseeing a huge cast, seven filming units and a 500-strong crew, Edwards never lost his cool. “He was able to talk to the actors about story, and then, because of his background, really command the technical aspects of the production with his crew. I think it’s a unique characteristic in a director who, on his first big film, was able to balance all of that and not get overwhelmed. His steady leadership and sense of calm really set a tone that helped everyone do their best work.”

Guiding the director was a desire to treat “Godzilla” as a story first. “It was really important to all of us that the audience cares about what’s going on and why, so I didn’t want it to just be spectacle after spectacle,” he explains. “Instead, the idea was to use some restraint to draw out the tension and suspense and really build up to that moment when we finally reveal Godzilla in all his glory for the first time.”
This approach informed every creative aspect of the film and helped carve out a visual language that brought verisimilitude to even its most jaw-dropping onscreen moments. “I don’t like putting a camera anywhere a camera can’t go, so I didn’t want to engineer any camera moves that would be impossible in real life,” Edwards says. “We shot some of the big monster scenes with the kinds of pans and effects you'd see in footage of a sporting event. Those cameramen aren’t psychic, so the footage is never perfect. They set up cameras where they think they will capture the best footage and be ready, and that’s the effect we were going for.”

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From Warner Bros

Like the title character, the story told in the film begins in Japan. “That’s the birthplace of Godzilla, so we thought it would be an appropriate place to begin our story, which takes us half-way around the world, ultimately reaching San Francisco, where the big battle plays out,” Tull says.

The film was shot on location on the Hawaiian island of Oahu; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Vancouver, B.C., in Canada, with additional shooting in San Diego, California, and Tokyo, Japan. Paterson and his art department—led by supervising art director Grant Van Der Slagt, along with art directors Dan Hermansen, Ross Dempster and Kristen Franson, and set decorator Elizabeth Wilcox—designed and created complex, detailed interior and exterior sets on soundstages and backlot space at the Canadian Motion Picture Park (CMPP), in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.

One of the first sequences to be shot was at the Vancouver Convention Center, with the cavernous structure transformed into both the Honolulu and Tokyo International Airports.

A number of key Canadian locales became ground zero for some of the film’s most dramatic scenes of devastation. “A giant creature is never going to come and smash up our cities, but probably every human being on this planet has either lived through events that create that kind of destruction or seen their effects on TV,” Edwards notes.

The streets of downtown Vancouver were transformed into San Francisco’s besieged financial district for a number of evocative sequences. Elizabeth Olsen was present for one such scene, which placed her among a flood of refugees fleeing in terror from the monster-sized clash tearing up their city. “One of the coolest experiences for me was being a part of these scenes of people trying to find their way to safety,” Olsen remembers. “I was part of this massive group of people all going in the same direction. I had never been involved in a scene with so many extras before, but there’s something about being a part of a body of people that hits you at a primal level. It felt very real in the context of what’s going on in the scene.”

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From Warner Bros

For the filmmakers overseeing such a complex operation, there was perhaps nothing more challenging or exhilarating than the creation of its main event. “Toho had given us their blessing to re-envision the character, but it was equally important to us as well as Toho that Godzilla look like Godzilla,” Tull says. “We wanted to bring him into contemporary reality while not steering too far from the classic silhouette that so many of us grew up with, and Gareth and the entire team walked that line with passion and inspiration.”

The effort to make Godzilla live onscreen with as much detail and realism as possible engendered a broad coalition of creative minds, incorporating the talents of lead creature and concept designer Matt Allsopp, and Weta Workshop, Ltd.’s creature designers Andrew Baker, Christian Pearce and Greg Broadmore, as well as storyboard illustrators, keyframe animation and texture artists at Moving Picture Company (MPC), and specialists in sound, movement and performance, all unified through Edwards’ vision for the character.

“Everybody chipped in,” the director remembers. “What we were trying to find was what Godzilla would look like if you actually saw him in the real world. One of the conversations we’d have quite often was asking, ‘If this was a person, who would it be?’

And after thinking about it for a while, what we came up with was the idea that he was like the last Samurai—a lone, ancient warrior that would prefer to not be part of the world if he could, but events force him to resurface. We did lots of illustrations and concepts, and it took us over a year to really get it right.”

Standing 355-feet-tall—the largest of any big screen incarnation—Godzilla was conceived from the start as an entirely digital creation that would maintain the character’s classic form and identity. A bipedal, amphibious, radioactive leviathan with armored dorsal fins spiking menacingly all the way down to his long, sweeping tail, Godzilla belongs to the imagined species Godzillasaurus, which paleontologists have jokingly linked with the Tyrannosaurus Rex or Ceratosaurus families, only much larger.

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