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Equilibrium Commentary
Kurt Wimmer



11. "He's A Sense Offender!"

Transcription by  Coolhand
 



(On screen, the Sweepers, on foot and astride bikes, are slaughtering offenders)

Uh, all of this was shot by my second unit DP, Bob Harrison.

This is where I pick it up, although in this particular scene right here Harvey lit it...

... and you can see the marked contrast in lighting styles between Harvey and Dion.

(Preston grabs an offenders gun.)

Doesn't this guy look exactly like Albert Durer's self portrait? I mean it's the spitting image.

(The Sweepers throw an offender against a post.)

The unfortunate about to get shot over there is the Director. I don't know why it is, but directors always wanna get in movies, we really enjoy it.

(Close up on a blood spattered Sweeper)

Mike Smith again.


You know there's a gag coming up momentarily where Christian gets into a hand to hand fight with two guys and I had an idea on the morning, and I have to say nobody thought it was going to work but the idea was that uh, the guy's gonna get his arm broken, he had a prosthetic arm, and the idea was we'd put a squib in there. I don't think it's ever been done, actually, but you'll see it coming up right...

Bang! There goes the squib, it's a blood squib. It actually works really, really well and we only had one take, and fortunately we got it.

(On screen, Preston is clubbing a group of Sweepers to death with his guns)

So, this is kind of interesting. I basically ran out of time, as usual, and at the end of the day I had to shoot this scene. This scene where he fights these guys was shot in thirty minutes. This is beyond impossible, and the only reason I was able to do this was because Christen was such a dead-on athlete. We were able to shoot the fight itself about five times, and that gave me the footage that I needed to cut this together. It could have been a lot better had I had more time, I mean you need a day to shoot this scene easily, but we literally shot it in thirty minuets, so given that fact Iím actually amazed that it comes out as well as it does at all.

(Having killed the Sweepers, Preston walks through a door)

This sound transition right there when it wipes frame, that's one of the many small favours that my talented sound editor Steve Flick did for me. I didn't even notice it until after the film was done. He just tends to put those little things in there, but y'know it smoothes the visual transition over.  It makes it work.

(The Sweepers have trapped a group of Offenders in a room. Brandt is trying to make Preston Shoot them)

This set here, this room, this is a very good example of how I approach production design in terms of camera, y'know. I went to the production designer and I knew, I said listen, I've live timed it all out. This is how many steps I need from the door to where Christian stops. This is where I need the practical lights in terms of where Christen stops. This is how many steps I need between Christen and the glass wall, or how many feet I need behind Christian and the glass wall. This is how many steps I need, how many feet I need between Christen and the exit, and I need another identical exit on the other side so Taye can come out of it. And so as you can see, these sorts of considerations tremendously dictate the way a set's going to be laid out. So if you have an auteur as a production designer, it can and will lead to problems but the truth of the matter is for me, after of course the narrative character of the story which is conveyed by the actors, the camera is king. This is a visual medium, a visual story telling medium, and we are using visuals to tell the story so what the camera sees, or what I intend the camera to see is the most important thing to me, and other considerations have to fall in line behind that. I set out to make a very visual film, and hopefully on some level I've succeeded. I believe, and I would actually love to test this theory sometime, I believe that someone who has not seen this film before could turn the sound off and watch it without sound and have no problem following exactly what the story is about.

So, as you can see a certain amount of steps to get out of the room, and it's all about pacing of the scene. If it takes him fifteen seconds to get out of this room, the scene would never be able to be timed out like this, and if you're not making these decisions before you shoot, you're going to end up in trouble, I think, in the cutting room. I don't know how other directors work but you will end up stuck in some instances if you don't make these decisions. And it's all been very clearly, hopefully, thought out, in advance Like for instance that final frame there.

(Preston speaks to DuPoint on the wall screen)

I had two editors on this film. The first one was a very talented man named Tom Ralph, who picked up the Oscar for The Right Stuff, and after a number of months he came to me and he said all the cutting that can be done on this film has been done, and he'd been offered a opportunity to go cut a film about five times larger which was called WindTalkers. And he asked me if I would mind if he took this job, and I said no. And he did, and I promptly promoted his assistant a young fella named William Yeh, who had never cut a film before, but William had the attraction of being one of the few people who was actually an advocate of this film while we were shooting it, and was optimistic about what this film could be. And I promoted him, and he and I proceeded to tear this film apart frame by frame, left no frame untouched, and I have to say it was in that period of time that I really learned everything I know about the character of a film as distinguished by the exterior appearance of a film which I brought to the cutting room already. It's almost like the difference between a beautiful woman, you see her and she's beautiful, but then you've gotta talk to her and you gotta see what her character is. That's what I mean by the character of the film. I learned everything about creating the character of the film in that time, with William.