Anatomy of a Scene: Knowing’s Plane Crash

Editor’s Note: You probably know Alex Proyas as the director of films like The Crow, Dark City, Garage Days, I Robot and Knowing, but for the last few weeks the filmmaker has been guest blogging on /Film. The post below is his last column. Later this week he will answer some of the questions submitted by /Film readers. Also, be sure to click after the jump to see a clip of the completed plane crash sequence.

knowing plane

One of my most challenging scenes in Knowing is the plane crash. I believe it was essential to have one of the predictions come true early on in the story, something so real and so horrible that we could no longer ignore the list of numbers.

I filmed this scene in one shot with a single hand-held camera. A nearly 3 minute continuous take where nearly everything in shot bloews up or catches fire. There was absolutely no room for even the smallest error. I wanted to take the audience right into the depths of that horrible environment with Nic. It took nearly 2 days to set up, and I must say that I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

knowing plane

Not that the day went off without a hitch. When you try to organize an ambitions shot like this one, a long take full of SFX, VFX and multiple stunts and pyro charges, only one thing is for certain: Murphy will be visiting set that day. It doesn’t matter how many storyboards, pre-viz, block thru’s, rehearsals or production meetings you have (and believe me – I had a few)…

Our biggest hurdle that day was with the camera. Although we never actually found out what was causing it (I’m sure a mixture of the hot Australia sun, rain makers, balls of fire and explosions didn’t help), the camera lens kept fogging up (and yes – we had all the anti-fogging equipment known to man on set). One second I’d be watching the monitors, loving everything I saw, and the next… nothing. Each re-set took over an hour, so we were all working against the clock. We must have done at least half a dozen takes – most of them unusable as Nic would inevitably disappear into a cloud of fog. Luckily, at the end of the day, and with time quickly running out, we got our one and only good take in the can, our final take, and that’s the one we used in the film.

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/knowingplane.flv 470 354]

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