For our second peek between the pages of Cinefex 144, we’re climbing to the highest place on Earth for a sneak preview of The Death Zone, Joe Fordham’s in-depth article on Baltasar Kormákur’s high altitude tale of tragedy and terror, Everest.
Special effects supervisor Richard Van Den Bergh worked hand in hand with visual effects supervisor Dadi Einarsson to transport audiences to the Himalayas, together with artists at Reykjavík Visual Effects, Framestore, Important Looking Pirates, One of Us, Union VFX and Milk VFX.
In this exclusive extract, Einarsson recalls the early stages of the production, which included a dramatic location scout around the mountain itself:
To review what portions of the drama could be filmed on Everest, Kormákur retraced the steps of the 1996 expeditions with key production staff, including visual effects supervisor Dadi Einarsson, co-founder of Reykjavik Visual Effects – an Icelandic visual effects and animation studio with whom he had previously collaborated on the ocean survival drama The Deep.
“Baltasar is a very physical director,” noted Dadi Einarsson. “He wanted the performers to feel the conditions that they were supposed to be acting in, and it was important for him to be authentic with as much of the film as was logistically possible. That’s why he always wanted to get the principal performers to hike in to Everest.” Production scouts began with a flight from Kathmandu to Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla. “From there, we trekked up to Base Camp and stopped off at Namche Bazaar and Tengboche Monastery. We then went up to Base Camp and took a helicopter flight up and down the Khumbu Valley, up the Western Cwm and around Everest, shooting reference photos.”
Aerial perspectives were hugely impactful. “It’s difficult to convey the scale of Everest with a camera. When you’re there, it’s everything you thought it was, but three times bigger. It is immense, stunning and awe-inspiring. We came away from that trip knowing that we had to convey that sense of scale. That became the subtext we wanted to achieve with all our visual effects.”
Read the complete article in Cinefex 144, which also features The Martian, In the Heart of the Sea and Crimson Peak.
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