Monthly Archives: September 2005

Terrifyingly Beautiful

I’ve just run back upstairs to my computer after watching one of the most incredible shots filmed so far. There were about eight of us standing around the monitor during the filming of a close-up of Hiroyuki Sanada’s big scene. We watched in stunned silence. Danny called ‘cut!’ and we all turned to look at each other in wide-eyed amazement. Danny asked to see it back and more people came to the monitor. Again everyone sat there, stunned… when the take finished there was a collective ‘that. was. unbelievable…’

As I was leaving the studio, all I could hear from everyone was ‘did you see that?!’ ‘amazing!’ ‘how did they do that?!’ ‘that was incredible!’ Everyone seemed as excited as I feel right now.

Hiro’s acting along with Alwin Kuchler’s camerawork, Reuben Garrett’s lighting and Danny Boyle’s direction has produced one of the most terrifyingly beautiful shots I’ve ever seen.

I genuinely cannot wait to see this film.

Note from 2014: The scene I’m talking about here was Kanada’s death


Today, they’re getting the last few close-up shots from the spacewalk with Hiroyuki Sanada. As I arrived I saw Hiro sitting outside getting ready to film. Every time I see him he is loosening-up, stretching, preparing to film. You can almost feel the intense energy coming from him. He’s remarkable to watch.

This morning I arrived on set when they were still setting up the lights. Danny asked me not to take pictures of Hiro as he’s not feeling particularly well today. Instead, I got Danny talking to Alwin Kuchler, the Director of Photography, bathed in ’sunlight’.


Helmet Cam

The “helmet cam” is located inside the characters’ spacesuits. Along with getting the actors’ close-ups, it’s getting everything that each character can see outside during a spacewalk. And there’s a lot going on. For more than a week they’ve been filming very technical shots with stunt doubles on wires who have certain cues to hit whilst ‘floating’ in space and several major scenes which are very physically and emotionally draining on the actors. And throughout it, of course, there is the ever-present Sun.

The other day they created the most amazing Sun-plasma effect just using orange lights, reflective material and a fan. Of course, visual effects will probably re-do it in the final shot, but it created the correct reflections on the actors’ faces and, I would guess, helped them with their performances.

I was watching a monitor as Cillian Murphy was doing one of the big scenes during which this effect was used and by the end of it I noticed I was biting my lower lip extremely hard and my forehead was all tensed up. Very harrowing stuff. And that was only about 10 seconds of the film.

Everything seems to be going rather well and the tension from last week has cleared. Just after lunch, Danny Boyle was talking with a couple of the runners about the cricket- it’s looking like England is going to win the Ashes- before he went off to get ready to start again.

Seriously Cool

Several weeks ago I arrived at the DNA production offices for a meeting with Andrew Macdonald. I was told he was running late, but I was welcome to go into his office to wait. I walked in and there was a guy sitting at a computer.

He said, ‘Hi, I’m Alex.’
‘Oh, hi!’ He looked like he might be an Assistant Script-Typer or something.
‘Are you Brian’s wife?’
‘I met him the other week.’ My husband, Dr. Brian Cox, is one of the Science Advisors on the film. He met everyone here way before I did.
‘Oh yea?’
‘Yea, we went out for dinner and had a great time.’
Brian went out for dinner with Andrew Macdonald, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland… wait, this is Alex Garland?

He was not at all what I imagined. I was expecting a pale, skinny, guy, perhaps a bit of a hippy (the whole ‘The Beach’ thing), definitely a bit nerdy. In fact, he’s rather attractive, if I can be girly for a moment here *ahem*.

I’ve had several conversations with him over the past few weeks and really like him a lot. He’s intellectually confrontational in a way that I’ve only ever seen in my husband and other high-energy particle physicists I know. He is extremely intelligent and seems like the kind of person who will never stop pushing himself to know more about the world, the universe and his place in it.

Apparently, though, he hates having his photo taken and hates being filmed even more. He basically values his privacy. Any time I’ve had a video or stills camera around him, he’s run off, but I grabbed this shot of him and when he sees it here he’ll probably come in and demand that it be taken down… but until then, here is the seriously cool Alex Garland.

Edited 16/09/05 11:23am:
Ha! He just emailed me and asked me to take the photo down… Don’t worry, I’ll try and sneak another one up when he’s not looking.

Good Day

Things have certainly turned around here. I arrived and everyone was milling around, chatting. I got to the bottom of the steps which lead to the set and saw Danny at the top on his way down.

‘Hi, Gia! How are you today?’
‘Fine, Danny. How are you doing?’
‘Good. Good.’

It’s going to be a good day.


Last Friday the decision was made to re-shoot all of the Zero G stuff that had already been shot. Danny wasn’t happy with how it looked. So the shoot is now behind schedule by a few days and that’s how it will stay. They won’t ‘catch up’.

On Monday I definitely sensed ‘tension’ on set. Several people I spoke to were stressed out. They were in a relatively small studio, it was hot, there were loads of people crammed in there and they were having to re-shoot what they’d already shot. No one was smiling very much.

I’m learning how to judge how things are going. If Danny says, ‘Hi, Gia! How are you today?’ I know things are going well. He hasn’t said ‘hi’ for a couple days now.

Update from 2014- The photo and video were not in the original post.

The Set

There is absolutely nothing cooler here than wandering around on the spaceship.

They’ve been filming some of the Zero G scenes so the big main set is empty. It’s huge and cramped and beautiful and industrial and certainly much better lit than a real spaceship.


Once you’re inside you are completely immersed in the world. It’s entirely enclosed. There are no windows. Everything there looks like it has a function except, of course, for the little human touches. A pair of socks on the floor. A photograph of a family. A tiny basketball hoop on the wall. A hairband on on the shelf next to the bed.

There’s a kind of sad feeling to the empty set. It feels like it’s been abandoned.

Studio 8

0209_dannySince Wednesday they’ve been filming ‘zero G’ stuff with the stunt doubles in space suits connected to wires. I went down to the studio just before lunchtime to have a look at what they were filming. Right as I arrived Danny Boyle ran off to another set for a few minutes.

When I first met Danny a couple months ago I recognised him the first second I saw him. While we were talking with Andrew Macdonald, I couldn’t stop trying to think of all the directors I know by sight. They were asking me serious questions about the web and I had ‘Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, Hitchcock, Houston, Cronenberg, Lee, Herzog, Tarantino, Allen, Boyle…’ running through my head.

Oh. Apparently, they’ve just now decided to re-shoot everything they’ve shot with the space suits over the past couple days. They’ve said they want to make it look better.

No one here is going to make do with ‘good enough’, everything has got to be amazing.