About The Production (Cont'd)
"I rescued George when he was two years old.
He's not just a friend. He's family." - Davis
"I've had the pleasure of sharing the screen with a lot of phenomenal actors,
but never a
gorilla," Johnson says.
For the film's central relationship to ring true in a meaningful way, it was
audiences accept George as Davis does: a genuine personality, thoughtful,
playful, loving and
funny, or suddenly angry and frightened. For Peyton, that meant a
character through which an actor could convey the level of emotion to bring this
animal fully to life
"I do a lot of effects-driven movies," the director says, "but I'm still a big
fan of shooting as
much as I can in-camera. And since the most important dynamic in this movie is
and George, to not build things around two actors in those roles seemed
foolhardy. I want
audiences to fall in love with George." To that end, Peyton cast
performance-capture actor Jason
Liles, noting, "We took a scan of his face and put it into George, so George's
eyes are Jason's
eyes, George's expressions are Jason's expressions."
One of the many benefits of this approach is the humor and light-heartedness
in the character, especially in the beginning of the story. "George is like a
teenager in many ways,"
says renowned visual effects supervisor Colin Strause, reuniting here with
Peyton after their "San
Andreas" collaboration. "George is a prankster. He has a lot of private jokes
with Davis and that's
something Jason very believably expresses. Despite George's extraordinary
transformation, you can't treat him like a visual effect."
Strause employed an optical capture system involving a surround-set of 32
tuned to the reflective surfaces of the mo-cap suit as well as four so-called
standard feature lenses used for backup reference. Watching the sequence play
out on a screen,
they then knew how big he would be compared to the other set pieces in a scene,
to be sure all
the movements sync up.
At times when Johnson, Harris, or another of the cast interacted with overgrown
of George against a green-screen setup, Peyton would raise Liles onto a platform
so they could
maintain eye contact with him rather than with an inanimate placeholder.
Liles trained extensively with stunt performer and movement coach Terry Notary,
for the "Planet of the Apes" films, to learn how to sit, stand, and present
himself like a gorilla-as
much a psychological as a physical process, incorporating beats of stillness and
use of energy. Additionally, Liles wore prosthetics to extend his forearms.
Complicating matters was the fact that the 6-foot, 9-inch actor was constantly
for George's evolving bulk. Peyton affirms, "Depending on whether you're playing
a 1000-pound or an 18,000-pound gorilla, it changes how you move to represent
that, there's the acting, and the pacing, as any other actor would do. It's a
lot to keep track of.
Jason worked his butt off for us, he did a masterful job and it really paid
Two months prior to production, the filmmakers reached out to Tara Stoinski, CEO
Chief Scientific Officer at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, to
consult about such things
as personality and behavior, as well as to gain a greater understanding of the
status of the species
around the world. The Fossey foundation is attached to the Atlanta Zoo, which
country's largest captive gorilla population. The filmmaking team spent time
here as well, as did
Liles, observing and consulting with additional experts.
Additionally, the production enlisted sign language coach Paul Kelly to teach
Johnson what they needed to know, as this is how George converses with his human
also worked closely with Notary because gorillas signing is often modified and
simpler, owing to
their limited dexterity. For certain words that have no standard sign, like
substituted something appropriate, like "hunter," and then cut that to "hunt,"
which would be
enough for Davis and George to get their point across.
To offer input for the lab scenes' layout and protocol, the filmmakers also
chemical and bioengineer James Dahlman, whose specialty was in vivo gene editing
at the Broad
Institute of Harvard and MIT, as the production's genetic lab tech advisor.
The film's biggest set piece is the climactic battle that tears up 10 square
blocks of a
partially evacuated downtown Chicago as audiences have never seen-assuming
seen a gargantuan mutant crocodile scaling a skyscraper and a 13-ton airborne
spines from its tail. "Using the CRISPR technology gave us a lot of creative
latitude. Not only
do we have three monstrous creatures in this movie, but they are continually
growing and taking
on new strengths and abilities that weren't there to start with," says Rickard.
At their peak growth, the ravenous wolf is 50 feet high and 85 feet long,
weighing in at
13.8 tons, while the croc clocks in at 60.7 feet by 225, and an astonishing 150
tons, with jaws that
crush through buildings and vehicles like they were cotton candy.
A significant amount of the battlefield was laid out to scale in physical sets
across the 30-
acre backlot of Third Rail Studios in Atlanta-formerly a GM assembly plant-which
the production's home base. The rest was digitally expanded. A team including
cinematographer Fred North traveled to Chicago to capture detailed visuals
around which the
production then constructed their sets.
Weta Digital's team, led by VFX Supervisor Erik Winquist, were exclusively
for the creatures, while Hydraulx VFX, co-founded by Colin Strause, handled
else. The goal was for the actors to interact with CG monsters and great slabs
of falling concrete,
steel and glass as realistically as possible, with tangible foreground and
blending into deeper background extensions because, as much as Peyton commits to
moviegoers into the thrill of the action, he likes to do the same for his cast.
When it came to the creatures attacking the tower where Davis and Kate are
Claire and Brett Wyden, Strause says, "We built almost 70% of the rooftop. It
had green screen
all around it for the digital extensions but it was a three-and-a-half-story
set, and the whole thing
was engineered to shake. Everything moved." In the scene where George is jumping
tearing off the antenna, amidst an ongoing military assault with A-10 jet
fighters, he says, "we
were throwing real pieces of debris at the actors and it really looked like it
was all coming down
Peyton recalls, "At one point, I turned to Dwayne and asked, 'Have you ever done
on this scale before?' and he said 'No, brother, I have never done anything like
this.' This is taking
the training wheels off, pushing it to the limit, and let's go for it."
From the actors' standpoint, Johnson says, "It was invaluable, because when
visible destruction all around, twisted metal, concrete, and smoke machines, and
a great crew to
make sure everything is right and everything is safe, that's as good as it gets
for a performer.
You're in it. You're experiencing it as much as you can within the world of
Strause, who worked closely throughout with director of photography Jaron
production designer Barry Chusid-both fellow "San Andreas" alums-outlines some
process involving Federal Plaza: "It's an entire city block, plus side streets,
and our backlot was
large enough so we could lay it out to scale. We took the pre-viz and figured
out where the
humans would be-not the creature shots, because they were all digital-and mapped
path from an overhead view. The art department then broke it into regions, or
islands, that we
could rotate, and we worked with Barry to spread them out so Jaron could get the
gear around them. They looked like completely disconnected pieces, but they were
all parts of
Further integrating the real and digital, Strause says, "We used a system called
which is a little virtual camera system that attaches to the front of your film
camera that can show
you the CG extension in real time on the set. So, once you get it lined up,
whenever you tilt up,
you can see in the viewfinder the green screen with Dwayne, or the CG
structures, or the animals,
which is helpful because when you're shooting a huge space with a very tall
creature and small
humans in the foreground, you have to make sure you won't be looking at the
creature's knees in
every shot. Dwayne is going to look amazing, but he has to look amazing with a
50-foot wolf and
a 40-foot gorilla in the background, and if you can't focus on everything at the
same time you
won't be able to tie him into the action correctly."
Chusid comments, "I love working with Brad because he's so specific. We go from
script to the 3D model, and then move through that to figure out where his shots
are and what's
achievable. We do boards and pre-viz, we build the set, and if there are stunts
[supervising stunt coordinator] Allan Poppleton figuring out the choreography
while we're building
it. We worked with Colin to position the creatures and everything we can't see,
and also with
practical effects for things like the C-17 plane, because that's a big plane and
we have to build it
somewhere and there's not enough room on the stage."
The plane was constructed on the studio's backlot in both its full form and a
section that could turn on a gimbal to a 60-degree angle. In the scene, an
explosion blows a huge
hole in its side, causing the plane to nosedive with Davis, Kate, George, and an
Agent Russell aboard.
With flames and other effects added in post, Peyton says, "I wanted to shoot as
possible in camera, and then just enhance it in post. The actors and the stunt
suspended from cables, and Dwayne ricochets around the plane from one precarious
to another while objects are flying past. We had massive fans blowing, that were
so loud the cast
and crew had to shout to be heard. It was very complex, especially with George
running wild and
all the rigging that required. It took months of planning, but was absolutely
"Brad loves working with actors. He really listens. And when it comes to the
side of things, he's brilliant," Flynn sums up. "He understands the camera, the
lighting, the visual
effects, every detail, and he prepares to the nth degree; he leaves nothing on
the field. This is
our third movie together, and I think he's one of the best action directors in
For Peyton and the entire filmmaking team, the goal was to drive "Rampage" with
thrills, immersive action and spectacle-a fitting homage to the game, executed
on a massive
scale. That was their mandate and inspiration from day one. But, amidst all
that, they never lose
sight of the central themes of trust, loyalty, and friendship, which are woven
not only throughout
the story but into the film's score, from composer Andrew Lockington.
"The film moves through so many different moods: it's funny, moving, scary;
adventure and peril. As a composer, to explore that breadth of emotion and
contrast in the music
is a real privilege," says Lockington, marking his fourth feature with fellow
Lockington incorporated some non-traditional elements, including The African
Choir, and Japanese Taiko drums, as well as the striking vocalizations of howler
recorded in Costa Rica, about which he says, "If you put that through
electronics and ring
modulators and stretch it out, the sound is fantastic. Also, the video game had
a sound effect
whenever the gorilla would punch a building. That type of sound wouldn't have
made sense for
the movie in its original form, but we synthesized our own 8-bit sound and
incorporated it into the
The score moves from the natural to more electronically influenced as the story
progresses, reflecting how the modern world is modifying the animal world-with
being the connection between Davis and George. "When they're together, the music
returns to a
specific theme, to help show that, despite all the chaos around them, they are
united and nothing
can get between these two best friends," says Lockington.
Peyton, who began working with the composer in the early days of productions,
try to see the movie entirely finished in my head before I roll camera, and that
involves not just
the visual but the auditory. I think a lot about how sound design and music
impacts the storytelling.
With 'Rampage,' we were building our own brand and defining our own world, and a
large part of
that was discovering what the music will sound like, so, for me, you can never
discussions too early.
"What it all comes down to is the kind of experience and emotion you want to
concludes. "With 'Rampage,' I believe audiences will get all the action they
love to see from
Dwayne Johnson, the biggest movie star in the world, and they'll also see his
heart. I grew up in
a small town where there wasn't a lot to do, and going to the movies was my
escape. It was a
way to feel empowered and excited, and everything you want from a big movie on
the big screen.
That's why I was such a huge fan as a kid, and that's why I started making
Home | Theaters | Video | TV
Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
© 2018 6®, All Rights Reserved.