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From the Set
Observations of an EQ Extra by Jantek

A crew member stands in for Fichtner during the setting up of a polygraph-scene take. Preston will sit and act on that white chair, his head leaned against (beside) the lens.

(Note - click on any image for a larger, more complete view)
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From the casting office of "Iris Mueller" I was invited to take part in the movie. Some weeks before the phone call (summer 2000), my girlfriend and I took some photos of us, following a newspaper advertisement for supernumeraries (extras) here in Berlin. She needed a "rebel" (for the "underground" scenes).

The Olympiastadion in the morning of the 2nd underground shooting day-
with the artistic modeled wood-stairs and artificial turrets (click to view)

Two days, I spent in the cellars of the "Olympiastadion", better- near the Maifeld, which seemed not be touched since the last Olympiade in 1936. Dust and moss-overgrown walls and floors, rusty torch holders- a gloomy, surreal atmosphere, I felt myself transposed to an earlier epoch.( After the "Wall" was smashed down, I've had similar feelings like that in East Germany as a born "West German".) Here, the property team changed it with love for the detail (and the corridor- only for some seconds of film) into the rebel head office.

Olympiastadion with view from east to northwest (click to view)

view to the underground corridor from the tunnel gap side. left and right- the underpass to the Olympiastadium. In the background the southern Maifeld towers (click to view)

colonnade of the Olympiastadion (click to view)

prep. an A cam polygraph scene take with C.Bs. cam stand-in. Going- dir., behind him with black
jacket- dir. of phot., in the foreground- original mossy floor (click to view)

In the morning of the first day- after changing, styling and make up- we extras were lead into the underground corridor, put into a row and examined by the director and his crew. Received with an amused smiling, we were sent back. Probably they didn't get pleasure from our faked punky "Rumble in the Bronx" hairstyle. Saved with tons of spray again, all heads were restored into their original state. The "Welcome to the underground" scene was shot until afternoon. Then began the preparation for the polygraph scene which was finished by lunch.

The second day I didn't forget my Lomo camera, but to my chagrin most photos were out of focus when I took pictures without leaning somewhere. I was so impressed and excited because of the extraordinary atmosphere. And I loved the American gentleness, the quiet and sovereign way of work, the crew showed. I`d seen some German TV-film crews in Hamburg, where I lived before, and I didn`t like the way the directors were used to screaming around and so on. What a difference here!

prep. polygraph scene take. from right to left- dir., C.B., prop. manager, in the background- A cam team, in the foreground- steadicam (click to view)

just before a polygraph-scene take shooting. left- 2nd ass. A cam., right- make-up artist brushes the very last dust particles from Prestons jacket (click to view)

prep. polygraph scene shooting. from left to right- 1st ass. A cam, dir. of phot., A cam operator, property manager (click to view)

Polygraph scene. right to left, Director, Chr. B., Dir. of photography., 1st. ass.dir., left- A cam operator (click to view)

When we as "extras" weren't used or the shooting room was too full of people, the 1st assistant director ("I was a million times in Germany") said: "ok, coffee time!" or, "ok (guys), thank you very much, please take a cup of coffee", I loved that way of getting kicked out. But I tried to find a place to observe the shooting. I like that kind of work climate with concentration and silence without many words. Christian Bale, whom I didn`t know before from cinema sat very alone and quiet ( in his character of movie ) in a cellar room with a gas oven in the times the next takes were prepared. William Fichtner (I didn't know him) drank coffee with us or better, sat around and talked with us in the corridor or at the freshly prepared set buffet in a next room. (cut fruit, sandwiches, hot drinks- because it was kind of cold there ) We were then invited to lunch at the parking place in front of the stadium. For resting there were also some comfortable double beds in the corridor, one guy of us slept the whole day in silence.

view through the underground entrance- near the southern Maifeld turrets- not used since 3rd Reich (click to view)

Olympiastadion and northern Maifeld towers from south direction during lunch time (click to view)

returning to the set after lunch. right to left, 2nd.ass. dir., 1st ass. dir., property manager- with T-shirt (click to view)

Olympiastadion with view from its south to west after lunch (click to view)

A- camera operator takes a break in the "Underground" corridor . Original torchlight holders were prepared with megaphones (click to view)

When I talked with German crew members about the friendly atmosphere of the Hollywood team, one said something like: "Right, but as well you must think about: This is a high budged film- highly professional, and you must know that there is a strong hierarchy. Each member has its own special job and has to do only that perfect."

The A cam operator was obviously under high pressure. When the director gave the signal- or only a whispered sign to his 1st assistant dir.("...aaand action")- to begin the shooting, sometimes he wasn't ready at all, for example because of some details in his camera view. But it seemed to me that the director was so involved and concentrated on his scenes, that he didn't realize that.

preparing polygraph-scene. sitting- dir. of phot., front view- director, right- lightning manager (click to view)

Underground floor- left to right, dir.of phot., property manager, 1st ass. dir., 2nd ass dir., A cam. operator (click to view)

Video control during a shooting of the desk scene (click to view)

1st ass. A cam measures up distances of Fichtners walk for desk-scene take. (click to view)

The next two days I was involved, the shooting took place in front of the stadium entrance. My part: standing praetorian.

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