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As we work through the casting process for the film, it has occurred to me that there is one question that is repeatedly asked of us when discussing the production of Contained; how in hell are we going to shoot a movie that is set on the ocean, in a city that is 150kms from the East Coast?
In a nutshell, we’re going to build some pools. Big ones.
The reason the pools have to be that big is mainly because of the size of our set – a mocked freight container.
In our screenplay, the container is 20ft long. To be able to fit what and who we want in to that kind of a space, we’ll need to fudge it into something a bit bigger – a 30ft version that doesn’t exist in real life.
We’ll also make it wider, too. That way we have some shot options for Ryan that will place the camera right inside the container with the actors.
The trick when building this ‘container’ is to make sure that a) the structure can hold a car and displacing water if we want to lift it, and, b) we can remove and add the walls quickly and easily.
Once again, that’ll be so Ryan has as wide a range of camera positions to pick from as possible. Honestly, he’s so needy.
A really important reason to have removable walls and ceiling is for safety. We’re going to be sticking some poor actors into the thing, and then filling it up with water. That’s… kinda dangerous.
This way, we can support the shots that Ryan wants to get without actually putting anyone at risk.
So that brings us back to the pools themselves. We’re aiming to have two so we have greater efficiency with our shooting schedule. We can be shooting in one pool while the other is prepped for another scene. The shallow pool is pretty straight forward.
Because the water will only ever be waist deep, a customer ‘bladder’ is all we need to hold that amount of liquid. With the way our story pans out, the majority of our shoot will occur here. There’s a specific moment in the film where the water starts rushing in faster than ever before. When that happens, we’ll need to shoot those scenes in…
…this bad boy. We’ll be using packed earth and concrete bollards – like the kind you see separating freeways – to create enough support for all the water that we’ll be pouring in.
Then, we’ll drop another purpose built pool bladder into the cavity to get a total depth of a little under 3 metres.
When we finish it off with scaffolding and metal platforms, we’ll have space for crew and equipment to get the job done.
Once we’re ready to go, we’ll drop the whole set into the pool with a crane that can maintain height at full weight without having to keep the engine on.
The ability to change the height of the set inside the pool will allow us to simulate the ‘container’ filling up with water.
So based on all of that, we should be able to get the shots we want!
At least, that’s the theory.
One thing we do know for sure – Andy Marriott knows his way around a pre-viz!
Now, I need to get back to staring into the abyss. I mean, at cast lists. Staring at cast lists.