China Diary

Day 143: Shoot The Moon

Once I’ve finished Iron Sky The Coming Race and Iron Sky: The Ark, I bet I can apply for Guinness Book Of Records, becoming the film director who shot the biggest amount of fiction films set on the Far Side of the Moon. All these three films take the characters to the Moon sooner or later, and shooting at the Moon conditions can be quite a challenge indeed.

I’ve spoken about the costume issues, the spacesuits and so forth, but there’s more than that to it. Gravity, for example, is always a big challenge. Watching the NASA astronauts bouncing around the Moon looks weirdly fake, and simultaneously, it’s irreplaceably realistic. Moon gravity, being one sixth of what we have on Earth, affects on everything, but shows only on a falling or accelerating motion, but anything to do with muscle power, that’s when things get tricky.

For an actor, it’s easy to remember that you fall down slowly, because there’s a wire assisting you: the question is just to find the right counterweight and you’re all set, but wires only balance your body, not your legs or arms, which you need to control yourself. Hands are pretty easy, but legs are the hard part. Falling down wire-assisted is easy, and controlling your hand motion is possible, but legs tend to be the really big issue, they usually reveal the fake effort you’re trying to do.

Just like with the first Iron Sky, we have a lot of wireworks ahead of us. Our action director mr. Liu has been rehearsing with the main cast for months to get the basics of the movement into their backbone, but really, when you have to first do the movements, wire-assisted, then remember your lines, then try to be natural and creative as an actor and finally fumble in front of few hundred people, it’s not a surprise it takes a while to get the right kind of weightless motion working.

The other issue is, of course, that today we’ve seen such amazing displays of weightlessness in films, like the namesake picture Gravity, and many others, plus news footage and Youtube are full of clips from ISS where astronauts float around singing Space Oddity and whatnot, so people expect quite a good display of correct weightlessness.

Not only that, but we also have fight scenes coming up in 1/6 g gravity. That’s going to be quite a big scene, a fight scene we shoot for good five days.

The other thing is the vacuum. Obviously, vacuum is an unpressurized space which works funny way on humans. First, although it’s nearly impossibly cold for human to exist in the vacuum of space for a long time, it also has some surprising effects on human body. There are very few people who have actually experienced vacuum in the world, and much of the effects we see in movies are usually pretty far out there (like, Total Recall – nope, your eyes won’t burst out in space…). In practical terms, the moisture on your tongue would start to boil, your eyes would soon freeze over and of course, you would lose consciousness. Interestingly enough, also the gasses released from your stomach would probably lead to a simultaneous defecation, urination and vomiting. The latter hasn’t been portrayed in the movies before (and I intend not to be the first one).

Nevertheless, following some of these facts creates a fun playing field, but complicated to explain to the actors, and to act out in addition for the troubles of trying to look like you’re weightless.

Having said that, the actors seemed to enjoy their time, hanging around in the wires and following my instructions on getting the movements and actions right. At least it’s something different!


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