Lights, Camera, Stunts!!!

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Bahubali is a movie that caught the nation’s attention like never before and people all over are awaiting the concluding part of this epic movie that has been narrated through spectacular visuals and amazing special effects. Bahubali, with its epic dimensions in nearly every aspect of filmmaking has been lauded for its exceptional stunts and special effects and its grandeur of scale especially in its stunts and battle sequences are truly spectacular.

Stunt coordinator of this blockbuster film King Solomon Raju visited AISFM for a stunt and action workshop for Bachelors and Masters students who will be graduating next semester. The outdoor shoot with our students was conducted on our campus by the man himself. Students got a hands-on experience on how stunts are supposed to be acted out and shot.

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Speaking to us during a break in the workshop, Solomon said about youngsters nowadays joining film schools to learn the finer nuances of various aspects of film-making, “It is imperative that today’s generation gets the right training and for that learning in a film school is very important. Just like how you cannot go from Grade 1 to Grade 10 in school, here you cannot just join the film industry and become known. By learning in a film school, they always have an added advantage. More and more people are joining the film industry now than earlier and it is a great thing.”

Talking about his favourite movie Bahubali, he said that it is one of the best things that has happened to him and rates the stunts and the movie as the best. When we are talking about the iconic movie how can we not ask the proverbial question on everyone’s lips, ‘Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?’ To this, he smiled and said, “Even, I don’t know!” “Stunts have come a long way from the initial days of the film industry and have improved greatly. With the aid of computer graphics, various stunts can be tried in films,” he said and added that Bahubali has raised the standards for stunts too.

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Before getting back to the workshop, he left a word of advice for the youngsters who want to pursue film-making, “Follow your dream, work hard with passion and don’t give up.”

One of the AISFM students’ who attended the workshop, shared her thoughts on it. Isha Thota, said “The stunt workshop was quite an interesting experience. It made me aware of the intricacies that went in to the production of a “professional” stunt scene and also the need of a stunt coordinator even for low budget films. We learnt about other aspects we may use in a film that we may not have previously thought would need a coordinator for i.e. something as small and insignificant as a scene where a character falls onto the floor is in need of an awareness, about stunts.”

“One main aspect that was spoken about, that is of grave importance is that of safety. Mr. Solomon and his team were very prudent, and took various safety measures with the use of body harnesses and crash mats. We were also informed about the importance of using our own safety equipment in order to ensure that the quality has not deteriorated or any problems that come with wear and tear come up during a shoot. Apart from the basic need for safety, the film production and insurance is also at a risk if appropriate steps are not taken.”

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“We were also made aware of the steps taken in the production of a stunt sequence, from interacting with the director who informs the coordinator of the mood of the scene and the events leading up to the stunt sequence, and of course the setting and to the actual rehearsal of the stunt  sequence itself. During the shoot Mr. Solomon also did a mock pre vis using a camera phone to check different angles, after which the sequence was practiced, safety measures were taken and then we were onto actual production. We were told about various different “cheat” angles and movements we can use so as to insure actual impact isn’t needed, especially since we were shooting without VFX.”

“The day long shot was very engaging, the students were quite involved often doing the camera work themselves and the workshop was a educational first step to a more in-depth awareness of what goes on during a stunt sequence.”

Mission: Impossible, ‘Cruise’ing its way into our hearts since 20 years!

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This May marked the 20th Anniversary of Tom Cruise’s first major franchise, Mission: Impossible. The series, with its action filled plot lines and over-the-top stunts (we’re looking at the Burj Al-Arab scene here), captivated its audience, every time a new addition to the series released. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to check out these 20 facts about the film, to commemorate its 20th Anniversary.

Mission: Impossible

  1. Cruise was originally not a fan of the helicopter flying into the tunnel after the train. De Palma insisted that they needed to go big for the film’s climatic set piece, so Cruise relented.
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  2. Before hiring Brian De Palma to direct, Cruise worked on the film’s story with legendary director Sydney Pollack, who’s uncredited in the final release
  3. The film was originally going to open with a scene that established a love triangle between Hunt, Phelps, and Phelps’s wife. De Palma scrapped that scene because it didn’t fit with the rest of the film.
  4. De Palma designed many of the film’s action sequences before the story connecting them was complete, forcing screenwriters to construct narratives around them.

Mission: Impossible II

  1. When developing the 2nd film of the series, director John Woo was inspired by Hitchcock’s “Notorious.” The classic thriller centers on a love triangle involving spies, and Woo wanted to bring a similar dynamic to the relationship between Ethan Hunt, the villain, Ambrose (Dougray Scott) and the love interest they both share, Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton).
  2. The opening scene, where Cruise climbs and leaps from a 2,000-foot cliff, was the scariest and most challenging of Woo’s career. Cruise did the aforementioned stunt himself, with no safety net on the ground (naturally) but with a safety harness, which was digitally-removed later.
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  3. Ambrose’s house on the water in Sydney wasn’t real. Instead, it was built of polystyrene and demolished after shooting.
  4. The famous shot of a dove flying through the fire, a Woo trademark, was computer-animated.

Mission: Impossible III

  1. Cruise became convinced that J.J. Abrams should direct the film after watching an episode of Alias at 2 a.m. one morning.
  2. Tom Cruise was holding cue cards for Crudup in the scene in which Musgrave reveals that he’s a villain. The scene was only written that morning and Crudup didn’t have time to learn his lines.
  3. Maggie Q, who plays Zhen Lei, hadn’t driven before shooting the film, a fact that became clear when she accidentally drove her character’s Lamborghini into another car during shooting in Italy.
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  4. The idea of providing mission information via a disposable camera came from Steven Spielberg.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

  1. The opening scene in Budapest was to have depicted Ethan Hunt leaping off the building and getting assassinated. When it was decided to keep Hunt (and Cruise) around, the scene was changed to involve the character of Hanaway, played by “Lost’s” Josh Holloway.
  2. The code Ethan punches into a pay phone to get his mission is 07362, the date of Cruise’s birthday.
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  3. Actor Dermot Mulroney plays cello on the film’s soundtrack; he also provided music for M:I 3.
  4. Bird included a common Easter egg that he often drops in his films: the code “A113.” It’s the number of an animation classroom at the California Institute of the Arts where he and John Lasseter studied and it appears in Ghost Protocol on Hanaway’s (Josh Holloway) class ring.
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Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation

  1. “Rogue Nation” continued the tradition of Cruise sporting long hair for the even-numbered installments, and short hair for the odd-numbered films.
  2. The airplane stunt that Tom Cruise performed himself, without any stunt double or special effects, had him suspended on the aircraft 5000 feet in the air at times!
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  3. All the good guys in the movie drive BMW cars. The bad guys drive an Audi or a Mercedes!
  4. Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames are the only actors to appear in all five films in the franchise.
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