China Diary

Day 150: The Will and the Way


The flu came down hard on our crew. Lei, the 1st AD, dropped out of the game for a day, and we had to run the set with our 3rd AD Barron in the lead. Many others in the crew were coughing, complaining about sore throat (me included) and all that, so we felt like half-manned the whole day.

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Our stunt coordinator – I’ve spoken about him a few times on this blog – is an intense guy. He has a bit of an personality on the set, which transpires in a way that sometimes it’s hard to get a good conversation going on with him, as he likes to run things his own way. But he’s lightning fast in devising new plans based on changes we make on set, and tireless with his crew, and while everything including wires takes a lot of time to accomplish, he is never sitting still.

Yesterday was all about that: wire stunts after wire stunts, trying to find the correct 1/6th gravity feel to the set. In many ways, trying to replicate a completely zero-gee effect would be easier – one-sixth has its’ challenges because things need to seem both low gravity at the same time, but also natural. But there’s nothing natural in low gee, but since it’s not completely zero-gee the movements usually land in somewhere in the uncanny valley which looks both realistic and fake the same time. There’s no real guide on how to get the effect working perfectly, you can only look at the camera and see if it is what you want or if it feels off. Usually, the “off-feeling” begins with legs: while being hanged from the ceiling with wires the low-weight effect on the body can be relatively easily faked, but since you can’t wire the legs separately, which form often a different body separated in two from the hip, they become the telltale feature which you need to control weirdly separately. Thus, all kind of crashes, trips and falls to the ground are extremely tricky, since while the body can be controlled by the wires, the legs need to be controlled by the actor themselves. If you are a really physical actor with a lot of martial arts training for example, this is not a problem, but since most of the actors are – well, versatile actors, no martial artists, finding the right tone is really hard.

I also found out the production will not grant another day off anymore before the end of the shoot, which means there’s ten more shooting days to go without a break ahead, and all of them are really, really demanding ones. And since the schedules for the Finnish shoot are so tight, we have to leave instantly the first thing after we finish the shoot here in China, so there’s no real time to even go shopping for souvenirs anymore, which is a bummer since I had come up with a perfect gift for my son here but hadn’t acquired it yet. Now I’ll have to figure out a way to get it somehow…

Anyway, I better try to keep my mind and body as clear as possible for the last 10 days, since it’s going to be very rough ride ahead, in order for us to finish the film. It’s not helping that I can sleep barely four hours a night for whatever reason… But, what can you do.

Good thing is that Annika will jump on the plane in no less than two days time, and we’ll be finally reunited for good, since she’ll travel back to Finland with me and then I’ll never move five feet further away from her for the rest of my life.

It’ll be a bit tricky promise to achieve but hey, if there is a will, there is a way.

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VFX supervisor Chris, me and Mika

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