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Equilibrium Commentary
Kurt Wimmer &
Lucas Foster

10. A Big Mistake

Transcription by Cardinal

Kurt: Unlike Taye, Christian is, weirdly enough, an excellent driver.  He was able to pull up at high speeds and stop...

Lucas: ...and hit that spot every time!

Kurt: This is... that's right, that's... that's hitting a mark.  Most of you might think "Oh I can do that, that's no problem," but this guy is pulling into a frame, you know, a composed frame and he has to hit the exact place every time and he did it. Our professional drivers, on set, you know, and these are European-type drivers who are less easily impressible than American drivers, you know, ex-formula 1 or whatever they are, they were all extremely impressed by that.

Lucas: There's our very nice American car that we feature over and over again.

Kurt: Yep.
Lucas:  Ok remember this puppy?

Kurt: Oh yes.

Lucas: Um... we had problems.  Note to future filmmakers. Puppies grow, and they grow at a rapid rate and uh, by the... we picked the puppy, but by the time we shot him he was uh, starting to get a little puffy, hefty!

Kurt: Especially with a Burnese Mountain Dog and it wasn't just that ... it wasn't just that we picked him and he started to grow. He was growing from day to day.

Lucas: Yeah, he was.

Kurt: Uh, he would show up the next day and he would be the size of a pony!

Lucas: Yeah.

Kurt: Uh, he was... he was a remarkably stupid dog!

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: I have to say. And we really burned a lot of film trying to get him to do the most basic things like that.

Lucas: (continues laughing)

Kurt: End up stealing a lot of shots.  But the fact of the matter is... is that although some people think its manipulative, the audience's heart really goes out to this dog.  This is the scene where I think the audience, for the most part...

Lucas: ...This is where we get them.

Kurt: That's right.  For the most part they've been sitting there and, the jury's out about what they think about this film, but after this scene, where he, um, kills thirteen people for one...

Lucas: Puppy!

Kurt:  ...really dumb dog.

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: ...uh, the audience is not going anywhere at that point.

Lucas: There's the inner costume that's underneath his outer costume.

Kurt: That's right, which you'll start to see more after this point in the film.

He is cute!

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: He is adorable!

Lucas: That little facemask thing is obviously a little digital piece that we added later.

Kurt: That's right. I spoke on the other... the other track.

Lucas: It was really cold when we shot this. I mean I can't even describe to you.  This is like 3 or 4 am in the middle of Berlin in... heading towards the winter, serious winter, we were in, like, I dunno, late October or something when we were shooting this.  And I mean, I went and bought like, the full-on north face jacket and I still froze my... my ass off!

Kurt: I... I did too.

Lucas: It was unbelievable.

Kurt: I had six or seven layers on, serious layers on and it was brutally cold. And, you know, when I think about cold this is, and how inured the Germans are to this kind of cold, and how, you know, the winter in Russia knocked them on their asses it makes me realize how cold it must be in Russia.

Lucas: It was pretty... it's pretty um, you know unglamorous sometimes, film-making, you know. You're out, you've got your boots on, you're up to your ass in mud and, you know, it's freezing, or it rains, or whatever and you still have to like, make your day, it doesn't really matter.

Kurt: That's right, it's do or die and especially on our schedule there was no second chance. You weren't going back and that was that.  The one, sort of, in... insensible thing I found in Germany was the heaters that they had out there, which people would run to every chance they got. They were basically thigh-high propane tanks that heated a heating element to red-hot... to red-hot temperature.

Lucas: More than one jacket was melted on those things! (laughs)

Kurt: And there was no protection whatsoever it was basically having an ultimate... an open fire.  I know I burned my jacket on it and I think the number of people running around in flames.

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: But we were too busy trying to stay warm to be overly concerned about it.

Lucas: We picked these shotguns in the early part of the process specifically so that he could do this move.  And we added those...

Kurt: ...Right there. Yeah

Lucas: ...Those foregrips and the lights.

Kurt: And the lights.  And the interesting thing is, is that Christian was the only person who was able to do that.  I mean, I'm a fairly strong guy and I could not rack those shotguns like that but he had no problem doing it, and the stuntmen couldn't do it either.  Or I should say the... we really didn't have stuntmen because he did all his, almost all his own stunts except that!

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: Right there. By the way that is not wire-fu there, that is Mike Smith, who is a championship diver, doing an open layout, basically off the back of the motorcycle,

Lucas: Yeah

Kurt: and um...

Lucas: Christian was in remarkable shape. I don't know...

Kurt: He was.

Lucas: You may not remember this but he was so serious about it, he asked me to get him, like, a... essentially a full gym apparatus into his apartment and he lived in one of those German, you know, fourth-floor walk-up type places.

Kurt: Right

Lucas: I mean a beautiful apartment but, you know, up a flight of stairs, no elevator.

Kurt: Or, if you've ever been to Europe, you know, the elevators in Europe leave a lot to be desired.  They're made for two people. All of them.

Lucas: And we had to get his full on workout equipment into his apartment and me and a few assistants and Christian basically schlepped that thing up the stairs to get it...

Kurt: That's right.

Lucas: ...to get it up there so he could work out!

Kurt: Christian is very method I undestand.  I talked to some people on Reign of Fire and they said he wasn't quite so method, but he was very method in this movie, and I... I appreciated that.  You know, when he, he was Christian and he, I mean Preston, and he stayed Preston throughout... throughout the film.  He was relieved, you know, we shot the bathroom scenes which are the only scene, and the bedroom scene in the first week, which were the only scenes which required him to have his shirt off. So that he no longer had to do the strict diet regimen that he was on.

Lucas: Yeah, he took it pretty seriously.

Kurt: He took it very serious. You know, he took this... he was... he came to play and he played hard and we always... we wanted him very badly but I don't think either one of us realized that he would embody this part so perfectly, at least I feel he did.

Lucas: I seem to recall getting the, um art department to get this plate into proper position so that you could see those little Prozium vials was a big deal.

Kurt: We lost 45 minutes.

Lucas: Yeah, we lost uh,

Kurt: On the first day...

Lucas: (laughs)

Kurt: On the first day...

Lucas: ...Because it was in the wrong place for photography.

Kurt:  In the, it was the... sometimes the smallest... sometimes the... the biggest things, you know, stunts that have, you know, five hundred squibs going off and uh, and backflip, they go off perfectly and sometimes the smallest things take an hour to do.  It's very strange for us.

Lucas: You may notice that that's another black floor.  That was a rubber... rubber-type floor that we had put in this... the Baron's Hall here, um, where we shot and it was also a total pain in the ass to keep clean with those overhead shots where we had to, you know, people are running around fighting on them.

Kurt: That's right it was pretty disastrous.  You can see the footprints if you look closely but it's not too bad.  It's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be and, um, these are... these wooden, sort of, kendo-like swords that they're fighting with...

Lucas: ...And we broke all of them.

Kurt: We broke all of them.

Lucas: These guys were really whacking on each other for real.  They both give, we, Vickers gave them a lot of training.

Kurt: No stuntmen for this.

Lucas: Yeah, they beat on each other with these wooden kendo things and they broke every single one of them.

Kurt: That's right.

Lucas: It was crazy.

The costumes.  We really like these costumes. They took some doing to get these, uh, sort of Japanese-style outfits but, you know...

Kurt: I think they're very good.  I think this, uh, one of the best things that...

Lucas: That Joseph...

Kurt: That Joseph did in the film.

They're certainly fantastic costumes in the sense of fantasy and, you know, when you're looking at them, outside the context of the movie or outside the context of the frame, I think that you can be tempted to say, well, that... that's silly.  But, I thought that they really worked and I think they do.  Certainly nobody's remarked on them.

Lucas: We had a tough time lighting this room.  The Baron's Hall was a very tricky place to light and you'll see that there are these essentially practicals on the floor that we've covered with...

Kurt: ...Again the aluminum.

Lucas: The aluminum

Kurt: And some stainless steel, yeah.

Lucas: Yeah, uh, to, uh, so that we could light it.

Kurt: The interesting thing is this is the exact same room that the ... the Gun Kata instructional takes place in. I don't know if anybody recognizes it and, um, I will say this is the... one of the one few times I... I got into Dion's business because he was going to keep the lighting the same as the scene where they're practicing the... the troops are basically practicing the Gun Kata, and I said no, I want to see if we can make this, um, uh, a much different-looking room if possible, you know, as if it were a different location, and more dramatic and, um, you know, he put his finger to chin, then he hopped off and... and he did it.  I think it's a great looking scene.  It's very unusually lit.