China Diary

Day 82: Heavy Machines

The morning sun greets the Rizhao shipyard as my driver pulls up to the set. The crew is getting ready for yet another day of running on top of containers. It’s chilly, but I know the day is going to be warm as we go further. I enjoy thinking that the same morning sun has risen above this same spot before ships were invented.


The day itself begins slightly late, but gains speed as we shoot on. First, we work on a scene at the dockyard during the early morning sun, and once the sun hits high enough point, we move to continue our containeryard action bit more.

One of the constants of filmmaking is that when working with children, animals or heavy machinery, things do slow down, and same happens with us the moment we start actually bringing in the heavy equipment. The container pickers move slow, can’t fit through the openings we have created for them and weight too much to be able to cross certain sections of the already-half-destroyed dockyard. The operators are pretty awesome guys who can make the huge machines move as fast as they can, but still – they are big chunks of metal that are not made for the speed and pace of filmmaking, so much of the day goes by as we I sit behind the monitor, watching the containeryard Tetris being played by the big machines.

We finish the day as the sun sets and it sets fast. One moment, it’s still magic hour, the second you turn around, it’s pitch black. The very last bits of the day we spend trying to do an extremely complicated, never-before-rehearsed move including two forklifts and four actors and their stunt doubles. I found myself making a big mistake yesterday when I chose certain background extras to do certain action, which then forces these extras to be doing accidentally all the other action bits in the scene – bits, that we were planning to be done with stunts. So, instead of being able to do everything with the stunts, I have the stunt doubles around only to supervise the guys extras – but luckily, the extras are game. They are willing to do the craziest stuff and seem to have a much better physicality than expected, so in the end, we are well off.

The night we spend with Annika and Mika at the lounge, enjoying a nice dinner and a splash of red (oh, how I missed red wine…) before turning in for the night.

What are you looking at?

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