Stunt testing for the Polecats scenes in Mad Max : Fury Road, 2015. That super sketch rebound that almost went really wrong once the pole stuntman disembarked! More here.

Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice on the set of Dick Tracy, 1990. The makeup used for all of the villains in the movie were based directly on the comics drawn by Chester Gould in the original strip, the only exception being Big Boy Caprice. Al Pacino designed the make up for his character himself.

Stills from rehearsals on Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991. I feel like the crazy california board shorts really lent an air of gravity to the whole scene that was missing in the final edit, you know?

Cast and crew in the pool at UCLA, filming the final scene in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, 1986.

Charlie Chaplin rehearsing this classic scene from City Lights, 1931. I love seeing him out of character just as himself working through the scene. Full clip here.  Final version from the movie here.

Exterior and interior views of the framework built for the tunnel scenes in IT, 2017.

Dee Wallace, Gary Morgan and director Lewis Teague during a break in filming on the set of Cujo, 1983.

Extras on the set of Spartacus, 1960, assigned numbers so that Stanley Kubrick could address them individually and give them notes and instructions.

Amazing camera work on the set of 2011 Indonesian martial arts action film The Raid: Redemption, as it follows the actor through the hole in the floor. Smooth drop and seamless handoff.

Filming part of the plane crash scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984.

Also from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, filming Jonathan Ke Quan, Kate Capshaw and Harrison Ford in part of the runaway mine car scene.  Spielberg shot parts of the mine car chase sequence on a set that included a limited series of tracks in order to get close-ups of Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, and Ke Huy Quan. Other than that, the entire sequence was created by Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muren and his team at Industrial Light and Magic using miniatures.

Filming the Black Knight fight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975. The Knight was played by two actors. John Cleese is in the Knight’s armour until he is down to one leg. Cleese couldn’t balance well on one leg, so the Knight is then played by a real one-legged man, a local blacksmith named Richard Burton who lived near where they were filming. After the Knight’s remaining leg is cut off, the quadruple amputee version of the Knight is played again by Cleese. He apparently likes to boast that he had Richard Burton as a stunt double.

Speaking of John Cleese, here’s a shot of him working with Kermit the Frog puppetted by the amazing Jim Henson for an episode of The Muppet Show.

Harrison Ford filming the leap of faith scene on the set of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989.

Director James Cameron demonstrating that there was clearly plenty of room on that fucking door, Titanic 1997. I really enjoyed seeing the bored extras in the background, and imagining what a weird day of filming this would be for them.

Jessica Lange filming a scene with the giant animatronic gorilla arms and hands for King Kong, 1976. Designed by Carlo Rambaldi, an Italian “line artist and sculptor” who designed both the Kong costume worn by Rick Baker and the giant robot Kong. Rambaldi later went on to design the animatronic head of the alien Ridley Scott’s Alien film and the alien in Steven Spielberg’s ET. A short write up on the feat that was the robotic Kong hands, well worth the read for the colorful language alone (“Given that the hand was essentially a giant hydraulic steamshovel covered with rubber and Argentinian horse tails” and “As gentle as the hand appears, for Lange it must have been like being fondled by a Buick”)

Continuity polaroids for Morgan Freeman during filming for The Electric Company. He was on the series from 1971-1977 and played a variety of characters, my favorite being Vincent the Vegetable Vampire.

Filming Jack Nicholson breaking through the bathroom door with an axe in The Shining, 1980. The cameraman got a serious workout that day.

Luc Besson filming Natalie Portman on the set of Léon: The Professional, 1994.

Mark Hamill having his hand molded for the now classic fight scene with Darth Vader wherein it (spoiler alert) gets cut off by his (spoiler alert) jerk of a dad, in Empire Strikes Back, 1980.

How Disney’s innovative multiplane camera system worked, to create realistic depth and perspective in animated movies. Interesting detail: if all of the planes are moving in the same direction as shown here, you create the sensation of traveling a single direction (left or right) but if you move each plane in opposite directions, it gives the viewer the sensation of rotating. You can see this in action in Snow White when the Evil Queen takes the potion and the room starts spinning.

Filming the bathtub scene in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984. Heather Langencamp was seated on two planks of wood inside a tank modeled to look like a standard tub, and Freddy’s hand is played by a mechanical special effects designer wearing a glove.

Richard Edlund preparing to shoot the opening crawl copy for Star Wars, 1977. It was a very low tech and time consuming, technique where the camera slowly rolled back over a glossy printed plate of copy which was roughly 6 feet long.

Ridley Scott applying condensed milk to the face and head of Ian Holm on the set of Alien, 1979. I cannot imagine how sticky and horrible that was, especially after a day under the hot lights. But it looks SO slick on the big screen.

Phil Tippet and two FX team members working on the Rancor scene, Return of the Jedi, 1983. Originally, George Lucas wanted the Rancor be a man in a suit that a human could wear and operate. Phil Tippett (who apparently had more than one job!) created the suit, and art director Joe Johnston who came up with the suit concept. He designed the costume in such a way that one person would wear the body and two people would operate the creature’s long arms. But after some test footage and a lot of flailing, it was scrapped. Ultimately, the Rancor you see on film was an 18 inch tall rod-operated puppet and a life size hand (seen in the next two images). Combined with a matte painting, cartoon rotoscoping, and later some added CG elements, it turned out to be a really stellar scene.

The Rancor puppet.

The Rancor hand on set with Mark Hamill.

A glimpse at the effort involved in moving the giant animatronic T-Rex head on set, Jurassic Park: The Lost World , 1997.

David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly rehearsing the dancing scene from Labyrinth, 1986. Swoony.

The tiger from Westworld season 2, before and after CGI. The blue suited human was used for lighting and environment reference as well as camera positioning and focal distance to help the CGI team produce a better more dimensional tiger.

Stanley Kubrick during filming of an exterior snow scene, of The Shining, 1980. The snow generated on set was either pulverized styrofoam (for the falling snow as shown above) or dendritic dairy salt (for the static ground cover snow). Over 900 tons of salt was used during filming.

Ok this photo isn’t that behind-the-scenes-y, but dang look at baby Tim Burton! Shown here on the set of PeeWee’s Big Adventure with Paul Rubens, 1985.

Makeup artist Ve Neill applying character makeup to Michael Keaton on the set of Beetlejuice, 1988.

William Bryan, Eric Fiedler, Terri Hardin, Diana Hamann, Etsuko Egawa, Marc Tyler and Bart Daniels creating and modeling the Stay Puft marshmallow man suits for Ghostbusters, 1984.

Matt Damon being tossed around in “weightlessness” while filming the space capsule scene in The Martian, 2015.

Shooting an action scene for Transformers: The Last Knight, 2017. Cars on spits! Explosions! Fireworks! Flying rocks! Diving stunt people! Running dolly jacks!

Haruo Nakajima rehearsing a scene as Godzilla.

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