Mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle as Freddie Kruegers hand in the bathtub scene Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984. From an old Rolling Stone article on the film, Heather Langenkamp said “Jim Doyle was in a scuba suit underneath me. I was sitting on a two-by-four across a bathtub that had the bottom cut out, and beneath me was a tank made out of plywood, filled with water. It was a challenge to keep it at a temperature that wouldn’t completely be unreasonable; you would get slightly cold just sitting there. What I remember mainly are the sounds. Wes told Jim, “I’m going to bang on the bathtub when I want you to stick the claw out.” So Jim is blindly plunging that thing between my legs. One time it’s too far to the right, next time it’s too far to the left, then it’s way too fast — and Wes just patiently waited until he got the take that he wanted.”

Elizabeth Olsen filming Avengers: Age of Ultron without the CGI. Apparently she had to be reminded to stop saying “woooooosh” on more than one occasion.

Testing the shot angles for Ryan Gosling’s parachute landing scene from “First Man” with a stuntman and extra padding.

Disney animators used a live-action model (read: a tinyish human being by the name of Kathryn Beaumont) in costume to help visualize the movements, mannerisms and expressions while working on Alice in Wonderland, 1951. Kathryn was the voice of Alice in the film, and was later the voice of Wendy in Peter Pan.

There are a couple of stories about this one, may be a myth. In Blade:Trinity 2004, Wesley Snipes had difficulties with the production team and at one point was being such a dick about it he was even unwilling to open his eyes for the camera. Leading to this morgue scene where they had to CGI open eyes for him. But in an interview with some of the production folks, they said that by this point in the movie (and also the scene where he rides off on his motorcyle at the end) he was already off set so they used body doubles. However, because Wesley’s eyes are so unique they had to use CGI to make it work. YOU BE THE JUDGE.

Michael Moschen working with David Bowie to film the crystal juggling scene in Labyrinth, 1986. Michael was Bowie’s hands in all scenes involving the “juggling” of the crystal balls, called contact juggling, something that he was known for. Henson had seen him performing and wanted this in the film. Though he makes it look easy (in spite of the many takes trying to get it right through another person’s body), those balls weigh anywhere between 3 and 5 pounds a piece, which is astounding really.


Filming the dust storm scene in The Martian, 2015. SFX had a mixture of black rubber, clear silicon, and some organic insulation material that came in sheets, than was broken in pieces buy hand. The dust came from the ground, as the whole stage was filled with red sand, and they had a huge propeller attached to an old BMW engine, blowing the hell out of the actors. “Ridley Scott is always for man-tronics instead of complicated mechanisms or cgi. When a door can be opened by a man out of the sight of the camera, that’s how the airlock would operate. I had the chance to work for him and I was there on this shooting day. The whole crew had those particles in their ears and underwear as well by the end of the day.”

Testing the porg animation on the set of The Last Jedi, 2017.

Actor Chazz Palminteri prepares to drag a camera operator across a bar room floor on a sound blanket in order to get a POV shot of Palminteri’s gangster character yanking a biker out of his bar in 1993’s A Bronx Tale. Watch the full, very violent but very good, scene here and keep an eye out for the slide:


This isn’t so much a behind the scenes as just an excuse to point out a cool little detail from this scene from Hook, 1991. The record player on Hook’s ship has no arm and needle, but an armrest for Hook to place his own arm into play the records with his hook.

The shot behind the shot filming one of the train scenes for HBO’s Westworld, 2016.

Not so miniature set work for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, 2005.

Director Wes Anderson on the full set of the Belafonte, Steve Zissou’s ship in The Life Aquatic, 2004.

The studio built a mile and a half long fake highway utilizing unused airport runways in Alameda, California for The Matrix Reloaded, 2003. After the shoot it was destroyed.

Furiosa’s truck filming rig from Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015.

Using a raised platform and camera angle to create height differences between Will Ferrell and Ed Asner and the elves in Elf, 2003. They tried to use practical perspective effects for as much of film as they could and I think it worked really well.

The final battle set for Saving Private Ryan, 1998.

Full scale dead King Kong awaits reconstruction in the plaza of World Trade Center, June 1976.

Lighting rigs on the freeway for scenes in the new Tarantino flick Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I had read about this a few years ago when LA was swapping out the old sodium arc lights for LEDs. One of the casualties of new, cost saving LED lighting is that the city doesn’t look the same at night. LEDs, which cast a bluish light, look radically different from the old, yellowy high-pressure sodium lights, meaning a pretty straightforward municipal decision to change them for financial and efficiency reasons will translate into a completely new film aesthetic.

Miniature practical effects used for the crash of the alien ship in Independence Day, 1996. Scene here, alien crash scene bouncing over the camera man around the 34 second mark

Director James Gunn posted this pic of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast stand ins on set. I haven’t laughed so hard in awhile. GROOT HAT!

A little before and after visual effects shot of Gary Oldman in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, 2017.

Tom Holland doing some rigging stunt rehearsals for Spider-Man: Far From Home, 2019. Really amazing (har har) very physical work, especially the signature Spider-Man toe point at the end. And the three guys in the background acting as his counterweight for the flys are no small potatoes…on the last low jump before the high platform you can tell that Tom thought he’d be going a bit higher a bit more effortlessly and it doesn’t quite make it. Great stuff.

FX creators working on last-minute details of the spider from the finale of the IT TV miniseries, 1990. The spider puppet was dubbed “the Alaskan King Spider monster” by the cast, at over 12 feet long with 15 foot long spked legs. It featured a fully mechanized head with radio-controlled mechanical components. Inside the body was mouldmaker Brent Baker, puppeteering the creature’s arms. The legs were immobile and the creature could be raised or lowered through an offscreen support system. The legs themselves were detatchable so they could be used for insert shots.

On the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005.

Three years before the release of The Terminator, James Cameron worked on Escape From New York (1980) as an effects technician. Here he labors on one of the films matte paintings.

Behind the scenes on the Clash of the Titans revival, 2010. And they say practical effects are dead. *eyeroll*

Life size to-scale Black Pearl set for Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, 2017.

Gary Oldman on the set of The Professional, 1994.  I’m mostly posting this to share this great quote from Mr. Oldman from an interview he did with Playboy magazine about his classlc line from this movie, “EV. REEE. ONE.” (You know the one) “What’s funny is that the line (where I scream “Everyone!”) was a joke and now it’s become iconic. I just did it one take to make the director, Luc Besson, laugh. The previous takes, I’d just gone, “Bring me everyone,” in a regular voice. But then I cued the sound guy to slip off his headphones, and I shouted as loud as I could. That’s the one they kept in the movie. When people approach me on the street, that’s the line they most often say.”

Creating the nuclear holocaust scene for Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Chris Hemsworth getting fitted into his Thor fatsuit for Avengers: Endgame, 2019. Now with 50% more eunuch!

Who says the sausage isn’t sexy. 2 crew members prepare a stuntwoman for the shot in which Tina’s body falls from the ceiling in Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984.

Amazing set design and creation for Tim Burton’s Batman, 1989.

Brave New World VFX for Furiosa’s arm, Mad Max Fury Road. 2015.

The full set of the final battle in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, 1986. (Anyone else trepidatious about the remake? I mean, I love the Rock so if anyone can make it work it’s that guy but….yeah.)

Cramped quarters, one of the downsides to filming in an actual home and not on a set built on a soundstage. Shooting a scene for Edward Scissorhands, 1990.

Barbara Eden climbs a ladder to enter her bottle interior on the set of her TV show I dream of Jeannie, 1965 to 1970.

Jim Henson puppetting Gelfling Jen and Frank Oz puppetting Aughra, along with multi-person support team providing animatronic body and muscle movements (twitching, eyes blinking, eyebrows, etc) for The Dark Crystal, 1982.

A rare non-greenscreened and CGIed to the hilt scene from Alice in Wonderland, 2010.

The “clever girl” getting ready for her scene in Jurassic Park

Schwarzenegger’s long time stunt double Peter Kent on the set of Total Recall (1990) with the two animatronics for the final scene where they get shot out onto the surface of Mars. Kent has been his double in Twins, Total Recall, all the Terminator movies, Predator, Commando, and even for T2:3D (The Ride) at Universal Studios.

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