China Diary

Day 13: Surrealism

Location recce is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you get. The idea of it is simply to drive around the city and find locations to shoot at, but the problem is that you’ll never find exactly perfect locations. That’s the reason even more simple setups end up being built on sound stages, in the controllable environment of the studio.

We knew that we want to shoot many scenes of Iron Sky: The Ark in the city, in real locations, to make the film feel more tangible. It’s also helping us to save some much-needed money from visual effects, to be used in sets that can’t be replicated, like on Moon.

So for this, we moved to Qingdao, to see what kind of locations they have to offer. The city itself reminds me more of Los Angeles, where as Beijing has more the New York feel to it. Located by the sea and pretty south in China, the weather can be warm and air is fresh, better than in Beijing for sure.


On the first day of the recce, we started the tour by visiting an abandoned construction site somewhere a bit outside the center. It’s really interesting: if this kind of a site was somewhere in Europe or USA, it would be full of homeless people, graffitis and drug needles, but here – nothing. For whatever reason, the builders ran out of money and the construction site was left to rot there, but it was completely untouched. We started to envision some of the action scenes there with Mika and our action coordinator, and I started to fantasize shooting a quick post-apocalyptic zombie movie in the set as well.


After that, we drove to the seaside, to a rocky beach near a fishing area. The scenery there is really surreal: tens of big, old, weathered fishing boats sit on the beach waiting for the high tide. Then, another fourty-five minutes in a car and we found ourselves in an amazingly beautiful beachside hotel, which also had a western-style toilet for me and Mika to enjoy. The long day ended at a half-finished multi-level intersection we could block and use for our car chase scenes.

The weather was terrible the whole first day. By the time I got back to the hotel just before midnight, I was completely drenched. Sitting in a car and wandering around the locations can be really tiring, so by the time my face hit the pillow, I was already out.

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