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Posted June 6, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film San Andreas (2015)


About the Production

What if what happened in Nevada wasn’t an anomaly? What if it was a precursor?” – Dr. Lawrence Hayes

“San Andreas” imagines the largest magnitude earthquake in recorded history. A seismic swarm along a previously undetected fault near Nevada’s Hoover Dam crosses the border to trigger California’s notorious San Andreas Fault, which erupts in a massive jolt that rocks Los Angeles to its core. But it doesn’t stop there. The shockwave travels up the fault line, setting off a ripple effect of chaos and destruction all the way to San Francisco.

Dwayne Johnson stars as the story’s pivotal character, Ray Gaines, an LAFD Search and Rescue helicopter pilot, who embarks on a deeply personal mission when the disaster strikes, vowing to bring his estranged wife and their daughter to safety amidst the escalating fallout. “I was captivated by the script; I was moved. It grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go,” he says. “When an earthquake hits there’s no warning. Shifting tectonic plates can trigger aftershocks and even additional quakes and you just try to get through it, minute by minute. That’s what makes ‘San Andreas’ such a heart-pounding experience. It keeps coming at you.”

“A movie like this is about size and scope,” he continues. “You’re imagining the biggest earthquake of all time, so what would that look like for audiences? But for Ray, it’s about more than survival. He’s trying to keep his family together…in more ways than one.”

It was this fusion of wide-scale calamity and intensely personal connections that drew not only Johnson but director Brad Peyton to the project while it was still in the latter stages of development with producer Beau Flynn. The three had previously collaborated on the worldwide hit “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” and welcomed the chance to work together again on such a vastly different story where everything – the action, the scale, and the emotional beats – is amplified.

Says Peyton, “This is different from anything I’ve done before. It was more demanding in its larger-than-life elements but also in striking that tonal honesty. I wanted the characters to ring true so audiences could see it through their point of view as opposed to standing back and witnessing it from a safe distance. Because, as impactful as the action is, at the heart of every story are people you care about.”

The idea for “San Andreas” originated with Flynn, a longtime fan of classic disaster films, who was eager to update the genre with today’s 3D capabilities and cutting-edge technology to create photorealistic images. Beyond that, he concedes, “The reason this movie resonates so much with me is that within three weeks of my moving to Los Angeles, the Northridge earthquake hit. I had never even felt a tremor before, and to experience a major earthquake was terrifying, powerful. It makes you feel very small and humble. I was always fascinated by the San Andreas Fault, specifically, even though I grew up in Miami, 3000 miles away. It’s just something I think people are aware of, consciously or not. It’s in the zeitgeist.”

To keep audiences on the edge of their seats, the filmmakers raised the cinematic stakes on “San Andreas.” Applying creative license to a real-world threat, the story’s far-reaching scenarios aim for a heightened sense of action and drama. Nevertheless, while not everything depicted on screen is fact-based, the film still acknowledges the reality behind it.

In March 2015 the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the odds of California experiencing a magnitude 8 or greater seismic event in the next 30 years has increased, as has the possibility of multi-fault ruptures, like links in a chain. Attention has long been focused on the infamous San Andreas, but there are others steadily building pressure, including the Puente Hills Fault, running from Orange County to Downtown L.A., and the underwater Cascadia Subduction Zone, from Northern California to Vancouver Island, with its potential to set off coast-engulfing tsunamis. Quakes have recently been reported in Nevada, Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri and previously unidentified hot-spots across the country, and remain a global fact of life – with a USGS estimate of approximately 500,000 detectable quakes around the world each year, 100,000 of which can be felt and as many as 100 that cause damage.

“I took all my own fears and translated them into the script, knowing Brad would execute every sequence at a very high level, and he exceeded my expectations,” says screenwriter Carlton Cuse.

Within the broad canvas of a catastrophic quake, “San Andreas” finds its heart in the deepest instincts such an unpredictable and uncontrollable force of nature provokes: our need to reach out to others and to confirm what’s most important to us. “Disasters have a way of bringing out the best in people,” Peyton suggests. “Individuals gain focus and find strength. Ordinary people become heroes, while heroes push themselves to the limit.”

Adds Flynn, “I think it’s fair to say no one knows exactly what they would do when faced with a fight-or-flight scenario, and that’s something we explore in the movie.”

In Ray, this instinct is put to the ultimate test. “People everywhere can relate to family, and how far we’re willing to go to protect the people we care about,” says Johnson.

“San Andreas” tracks three concurrent storylines. After the first quake slams Los Angeles, Ray locates his soon-to-be-ex wife, Emma, played by Carla Gugino, in a breathtaking helicopter rescue, as the gutsy and determined woman scales the wreckage of an imploding downtown high-rise. Together, they then set out to find their daughter, Blake, in the aftermath of a second quake in San Francisco, some 400 miles away. As they race north, the 19-year-old Blake, played by Alexandra Daddario, is set adrift when her about-to-be stepfather Daniel, played by Ioan Gruffudd, disappears. She must rely on her own resourcefulness to survive and cut a path toward safety, joined by a young man she’s just met, Ben, played by Hugo Johnstone-Burt.

“Carla’s and Alexandra’s characters are strong women, not damsels in distress, and that was important to us,” says Flynn. “They have a lot of great action scenes and they are really featured doing amazing things in the movie. I have two daughters, so I especially love to see women take on these roles, because the truth is women are often the real heroes.”

Paul Giamatti stars as Lawrence Hayes, a leading Caltech seismologist who believes he’s found a way to track the quake and that there is worse to come. Plagued by setbacks and the breakdown of power and communication at his Pasadena lab, he does everything he can to get the warning out, with the help of Archie Panjabi’s intrepid TV journalist Serena, who is stranded alongside him. Notes Cuse, “The seismology story becomes the narrative spine of the movie, which frames and contextualizes the disaster.”

“Brad is an excellent storyteller and he knows exactly where the drama and the heart are,” Flynn says. “He always brings the focus back to the characters and those small moments – whether it’s a young couple like Blake and Ben just starting a relationship amidst the destruction, or Ray and Emma, a couple with a rich history, who rediscover the best in each other when things are at their worst.”

To capture that sense of intimacy, Peyton sought to accomplish as much work in-camera as possible, incorporating stunts, sets and practical effects to a large extent, one example of which is Emma’s rooftop rescue. It was a continuous, minutes-long sequence in which, he outlines, “we literally travel with her, with no cuts, through a collapsing building. You’re moving with her and seeing it through her eyes, sensing the thousand split-second decisions she has to make to get from here to there as the environment is constantly changing, and Carla conveys that adrenalin and the very real danger her character is facing from beginning to end.”

Audiences will also find themselves in the path of an avalanche of debris, in a car hanging precariously from a cliff-side, underwater, and on the crumbling rim of Hoover Dam.

A massive confluence of moving parts, “San Andreas” employed more than 1300 visual effects shots as roads buckle, bridges snap, fires erupt across multiple cityscapes and buildings fall, smashing into other buildings on their way down like goliath dominoes. Then, just when you think it’s time to catch your breath, a 15-story tsunami – a virtual wall of water – comes crashing into San Francisco.

“Brad really takes pride in moving the needle,” Johnson attests. “He came to the set every day at full-tilt, looking for new ways to immerse the audience, emotionally and visually.”

 

Holding On … And Holding On to Each Other

Stay strong, honey. We’re coming to get you.” – Ray

Even before all hell breaks loose under his feet, Ray is on shaky ground. Emma has just served him with divorce papers – a step that, while not unexpected, marks the end of a marriage he knows he could have worked harder to save. And hours before the first quake strikes, Ray not only learns that Emma is moving into her boyfriend Daniel’s house, but that Daniel will be escorting Ray and Emma’s daughter to college in Northern California – a trip Ray had hoped to take with Blake, himself.

“Ray is a very special individual, with heart and integrity, and those are qualities you always look for in a role,” Johnson says. “Like so many of those good men and women who face this kind of danger every day, he’s capable of taking care of people and saving lives because that’s his job and his calling. But inside, he’s struggling with a few things. He’s going through a divorce, and anyone who has gone through that knows how tough it is, especially when you have a family.” As a father himself, he emphasizes, “I’d do anything to protect my little girl.”

The relationship between Ray and his estranged wife, as well as the relationship between Ray and his daughter, are cornerstones of the film, and Peyton notes how Johnson brought all the layers of Ray’s story to life: “He’s not only one of the biggest action stars in the world, he’s also charming, and funny, and relatable. And he brings so much of this to Ray, grounding the character and doing something unique with it. Dwayne found new depth in the role.

“There are two kinds of heroes,” the director continues. “There are the unstoppable ones who can walk through walls and who we can never be, and there’s the guy who can take a punch and come back swinging, and that’s the one we hope we could be. In a way, Ray is both of those guys. There are moments when he pulls off what seems impossible and leaves you thinking, ‘Oh my God!’ and, at the same time, you see he’s flawed, he has issues. He’s made mistakes in his life that he’s trying to rectify, and he’s really just a guy trying to do his best and figure it out. Dwayne makes Ray someone you can understand and root for, while you’re amazed at what he can do. And of course, we all want to be Dwayne Johnson.”

Adds Flynn, “Dwayne’s approach to this role was, ‘How do I ground this and make it feel real?,’ rather than forced or embellished, which is really very exciting because it reveals a level of vulnerability that I’ve never seen him play before.”

As Ray absorbs Emma’s news, it’s clear he still has feelings for her but will put that aside in favor of her happiness. And if moving on makes her happy, so be it.

Carla Gugino, who stars as Emma, explains, “It’s an amicable relationship they still have. You come to find out the reason they separated was not because they don’t love each other, but because something terrible happened that they couldn’t reconcile and couldn’t get past, so their marriage started to dissolve.”

“Carla is perfect,” Flynn states. “She’s tough and sexy and a great match for Dwayne. As Emma, she is fearless and will stop at nothing to find her daughter.”

Between the emotion and the physicality of the role, Gugino relates, “Playing Emma was incredibly challenging in all the best ways and exhausting in all the right ways, and just an extraordinary experience.”

Not surprisingly, when the first quake hits Los Angeles, fatally destabilizing the downtown skyscraper where Emma is having lunch, it’s Ray she turns to for help, and he doesn’t let her down. But even as Ray finally pulls Emma to safety moments before the structure topples, they realize the Bay Area has also taken a massive hit, immediately uniting them in a single purpose: to find their daughter, now lost somewhere in wreckage of San Francisco.

It’s a dangerous and frantic trek with set-backs and dead ends, during which they seize every opportunity and nearly every possible mode of transport, from helicopter and plane to truck and speedboat, and do a fair amount of soul-searching along the way. “It’s funny, you think you’re going one way in life, and then something happens and suddenly you’re heading in an entirely different direction and your whole perspective changes,” Johnson observes.

Hundreds of miles away, Blake recovers from the terror of being trapped in a crushed car in an underground parking garage and struggles to regain her bearings. Unable to communicate with her parents by phone except for a few fleeting moments, she discovers that the lessons her father taught her about survival still resonate and guide her.

“Things can happen at any moment; life is so unpredictable,” acknowledges Alexandra Daddario. “It’s interesting to see her utilize all these skills she’s learned from her dad and tap into parts of herself she probably didn’t even realize she potentially had. She’s a strong character, very tough and knowledgeable but also a normal girl that people could relate to, and you see her evolve through this ordeal to become more of a woman than a girl. Of course, playing Dwayne’s daughter makes me feel a lot tougher than I actually am.”

“Alexandra is smart, talented and engaging. When she came in to read, we knew right away that we’d found our Blake,” Flynn recalls. “It’s not easy to convince the audience that you’re Dwayne Johnson’s daughter, and she matched up with him perfectly.”

Heeding her dad’s advice, Blake navigates on foot through the rubble, aftershocks and debris toward one of the city’s tallest and most famous landmarks, Coit Tower, where Ray and Carla have promised to meet her. But she’s not alone. Sharing her journey is the shy but brave Ben, a Brit played by Australian actor Hugo Johnstone-Burt. In the city for a job interview and vacation, with his younger brother in tow, Ben first crosses paths with Blake in the lobby of an ultra-modern skyscraper, with a sweetly flirtatious exchange that ends with her offering him her number. Not long after, as the building collapses around them, Ben refuses to leave his newfound friend behind.

“Worst luck in the world,” says Johnstone-Burt, reflecting some of the lightness and humor his character brings to the mix. “Here’s the poor guy on holiday and having a job interview, he just gets the number of a pretty girl and then it all hits the fan.”

Underscoring the fact that you never know who will reach out a hand when it’s most needed, the three of them – Blake, Ben and his precocious little brother Ollie, played by the then-12-year-old Irish actor Art Parkinson – throw in together as a team, alternately helping and leaning on one another. Says Daddario, “When the earthquake hits, they forge a tight relationship and continue moving.”

It takes a leap of faith for Ben and Ollie to stick with Blake when everyone else heads in the opposite direction, but Blake’s faith is in her dad.

Meanwhile, as Blake and her companions close the space between themselves and the Tower, and Ray and Emma move heaven and earth to reach San Francisco, tension continues to mount at the Caltech facility in Pasadena. Seismologist Lawrence Hayes has been crunching data and tracking sensors since even before the quakes struck California, studying what was likely their precursor: the one that rocked Nevada and destroyed Hoover Dam before triggering the San Andreas Fault.

If he’s right, it would be a validation of his life’s work, yet it would also mean more widespread destruction. “He’s a brilliant scientist and something of a renegade, at the forefront of this research,” Paul Giamatti says of his character. “Lawrence has been developing a theory, by tracking pre-earthquake activity and following its progress to try to predict the next monster quake.”

A man with a mission, Lawrence is now convinced his data indicates more seismic volatility and needs to get the word out quickly, in a big way. That’s where TV journalist Serena comes in. “Serena was doing a segment on the initial earthquake that took place in Nevada, which was unexpected,” says British actress Archie Panjabi, who stars in the role. “She’s at Caltech to interview Lawrence for the piece and, while there, gets caught up in midst of this larger San Andreas chain reaction with Lawrence and his team. It’s probably the biggest story not only of her career but of any journalist’s career.”

“San Andreas” also stars Ioan Gruffudd as Emma’s architect boyfriend, Daniel, a role that further exposes the unpredictable nature of people under extreme pressure. Daniel first appears with the best of intentions, opening his heart and home to Emma and her daughter and volunteering to shuttle Blake to college when Ray is unable to make the trip. “En route,” says Gruffudd, “Daniel is very open with Blake, confessing he never had children because he was too busy working, but is so happy now to have her in his life. She appreciates his candor, and you can see she’s willing to give this guy a chance.”

But Daniel proves unreliable when it matters most. “He’s the antithesis of the guy who would run into a burning building to save someone,” Gruffudd continues. “The interesting thing is that Daniel may very well have thought his entire life that he would do the heroic thing, only to discover, when faced with the reality of a near-death experience, that he’d do the opposite.”

While that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person, Peyton suggests, “It raises the question of what each one of us might do, given the same situation.”

 

Sets, Stunts, and Effects

I need you to get to high ground. You remember Coit Tower? That’s where we’ll meet.” – Ray

Weaving together the various creative elements, from sets, locations and stunts to practical and digital effects, Peyton’s directive was always to make each piece of the mosaic as visually realistic as possible. Though “San Andreas” required a great deal of CGI, that meant accomplishing a significant amount of the action in-camera, certainly more than might be expected on a movie of such scale.

“I think there were maybe three days when we were walking around on solid ground,” Peyton recounts. “If we weren’t in the water, we were on a boat gimbal or a helicopter gimbal. For a week, I was shooting a boat on a green screen stage, doing all these stunts with water flying around; then it was a helicopter for another week; then a plane. It was pretty wild. I think shifting gears that much was good for the movie because we were always on the move.”

Addressing the complexity of designing each image, he says, “Even if it’s a CG shot, like an over-the-shoulder of someone in a boat, I’d ask my editor to put in all the boat green-screen elements so when I lined it up I knew how fast it had to be going. You need those references. I might have my pre-vis, a comp shot, a location shot, and then a visual effect shot, so there were already four images of what I was putting together into one, and that was just the basic level. You really have to figure out a way to put all these elements together on a movie like this because, literally, there are shots that have 15 components. There are so many variables.”

VFX producer Randall Starr, marking his third collaboration with Peyton says, “Nearly every single shot has something going on with it, even if it’s something as little as putting a crack onto a wall that was nice and clean, or having some dust falling just to add tension to a scene, all the way to fully generated waves, buildings and bridges. We ran the gamut.”

Peyton likes to shoot on the Z-axis, which creates a sense of movement away from and towards the camera. “Even in 2D, it gives you the feeling of motion, and in three dimensions it’s amazing. You can feel all the movement like you’re living inside the space and moving down these corridors. It’s a great technique and 3D just makes it sweeter,” he explains.

Flynn produced the first feature film ever shot in high-definition 3D, 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and used a 3D conversion for “San Andreas.” “I’m a massive believer in 3D technology,” he says. “It just keeps taking leaps forward, especially in the conversion space. With ‘San Andreas,’ we wanted to make the first 3D earthquake disaster film, and that’s our obligation as filmmakers, to keep elevating the theater-going experience for audiences.”

The production captured a large portion of exteriors in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which were then combined with location shoots in and around Australia’s Gold Coast region in southeastern Queensland. Several major sets were built on Village Roadshow Studios’ soundstages, including in its nearly 13,000-square foot water tank – the largest purpose-built film water tank in Australia and one of the largest in the world, with a 1.5 million gallon capacity.

 

The Rooftop Rescue in Downtown Los Angeles

When the quake hits L.A., Emma is at an upscale restaurant on an upper story of a sleek, modern – and fictional – downtown high-rise, offering panoramic views of the city.

Production designer Barry Chusid imagined the restaurant as a timeless and elegant space with chandeliers, ponds, potted trees and rich appointments like columns and a honey-onyx bar. All of this was created around traffic patterns Peyton mapped out with special effects supervisor Brian Cox and stunt coordinator Allan Poppleton, for the subsequent pandemonium of panicked guests stampeding the exits.

Peyton delivers the entire sequence in one continuous sweep, beginning with Emma’s point of view: from her initial stunned realization of what’s happening, through her struggle to get out of the restaurant and up the stairs to meet Ray’s chopper as things are breaking apart everywhere, to her rocky progress atop the radically shifting and crumbling slabs of concrete on the roof, exposing gaping holes and sheer drops-offs.

“She starts upstairs and the building collapses three or four stories,” says Peyton. “She climbs out of the debris and then falls back down again. It was logistically incredible.”

Poppleton, who put Carla Gugino and the others through their paces, describes how that was done. “We call it the pancake rig; it’s like a big pancake she was on that let her fall what looks like four floors down before she makes her way back up to the roof.”

“The Steadicam operator and I were joined as one for a couple of days, following Emma all the way up in one extraordinary shot,” says Gugino, who likened the performance to working on stage. “I do a lot of theater and there’s something about feeling like you’re on a tightrope, where you can’t jump off and you just have to keep going. With that comes a huge amount of adrenalin and focus, and I think that created the perfect energy for this sequence. It was very intuitive of Brad to do it that way.”

“The whole thing was a complicated cueing process, where each individual action leads into another action,” Cox explains, as the scene starts with the subtle tremor of a water glass or a knife tapping a tabletop and rises to a crescendo as walls crack and a broken gas line ignites a fireball from the kitchen. “We had the trees and water ponds on a rail system that we could shake backwards and forwards, and the tables and chairs were moved individually. There were different frequencies of movement.”

Cox’s efforts dovetailed with those of the VFX team. Echoing his strategy, Starr says, “We broke it into segments and married each piece into the whole.” Of the digitally altered cityscapes, which he strove to ground realistically, he adds, “Many of the downtown buildings are from different decades so there will likely be some that will collapse and others that are more modern and will sway. So we built all of that into the scene.”

Shots of Ray in the helicopter represented yet another moving part, with action caught on the green-screen stage in what Chusid calls “a helicopter buck,” built to the Los Angeles Fire Department model and mounted on a gimbal. That gimbal was later repurposed to control the speedboat Ray and Emma ride through tsunami floodwaters.

“There’s nothing with wings or wheels that I do not operate in this movie, and I even get to pilot a boat,” says Johnson. “Actors love to say they performed their own stunts. I have a great stuntman who’s been with me for years, but because we were shooting so much in-camera, without cutaways, I got to do a fair amount myself, like rappelling out of a helicopter.”

Johnson and the actors playing members of Ray’s crew in the film’s early scenes trained with CareFlight, a Queensland non-profit emergency-services helicopter company, to learn about basic procedures, instruments, equipment and generally how such a team would function. CareFlight also lent the production a Bell 412 helicopter and access to a hangar for filming.

“I spent a lot of time with helo pilots, trying to understand the mechanics of flying a helicopter and just getting into their heads a little bit,” Johnson continues, “how they look at their job, what they think, and how they’re able to separate their emotions from the job, because it’s just human nature when something like this happens to go into that fight-or-flight mode. These guys are incredible warriors. Spending time with them was invaluable.”

 

Destruction of The Gate, San Francisco’s Tallest Building

Blake’s quest for high ground in San Francisco takes her to The Gate, another fictional structure. Designed by Daniel in the story, it’s still under construction when she, Ben and young Ollie take refuge inside. They are about 14 stories up when a tsunami engulfs the city, flooding the building and forcing them higher. As the water rises and aftershocks continue to undermine the already-tilting building, Blake is blocked behind an atrium by heavy debris…with very little air.

Most of the action takes place between the 12th and 15th floors, so construction focused on these three levels of practical sets, entrusting the extensions, windows, exterior vistas and other myriad details to VFX. One of the production’s three set designers, Nick Dare, who worked with Chusid on The Gate, says, “The way we approached it was by creating a platform with all three sets that could be submerged in the water tank. It had a massive engineering component and then weeks of putting all the specially manufactured steel beams and trusses together before sets could even be constructed. The platform was built on four hydraulic ramps that pushed it up and down and it could tilt to an angle of about 11 degrees. We calculated that the building would be tilted 15 degrees, but 15 is an un-walkable surface, so to accommodate the action we had to soften the angle. Most of the time it’s playing at nine or six or three degrees.”

“The biggest challenge was its weight,” Cox states. “We ended up with about 105 metric tons and had to place airbags underneath to help lift it at certain points.”

Raising or lowering the platform determined the standing water level. Additionally, water was dumped from 9000-gallon shipping containers as needed, such as when the damaged structure suddenly lurches downward and more water rushes in. From a production design standpoint, everything on set had to be waterproofed, or made from materials that could tolerate a month in chlorination, and much of it had to be tied down. Larger pieces had holes drilled for water to pass through them to relieve some of the pressure.

The actors, along with much of the crew, stunt performers, divers and safety personnel, spent a lot of time in the water. “The dump tank was incredible,” Daddario recalls. “The force of it pushes you back and sometimes the shock and surprise at being hit by gallons and gallons of water is real. It was easy to convince myself that I was terrified even though I knew I could escape at any second.”

 

A Mountain Road Cliffhanger, the Parking Garage, Cal Tech and Other Sets

In an early scene establishing Ray’s capability, compassion and nerves of steel, he and his helo team rescue a motorist whose car slid off a road and is poised to plummet down a canyon. Built as a 50-by-50 foot outdoor set at the film’s Australian location, it was carefully modeled to represent a portion of road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Foam molds were taken from a nearby quarry. These were then fastened to a wooden structure, to which were also attached concrete footholds for the performers and pockets of soil to support live plants.

The car was held by cables on a nearly vertical track against the rock face so it could be hydraulically dropped by degrees. A real helicopter was suspended by a crane in a “tip-the-hat” angle from which the actors and stuntmen lowered themselves to reach the car.

Later, in San Francisco, the story finds Blake working to free herself from a car trapped under a fallen girder. A garage on the Isle of Capri provided the scene’s foundation, which production designer Chusid adjusted with emergency lighting, sprinklers, signage and other details. He wanted the post-quake columns to reveal mesh and rebar under the portions of broken concrete. Another mash-up of practical and CGI, the scene required a stunt driver to gather speed for about 50 feet before falling through a virtual chasm and landing on the floor below. That car had a rubber roof that could be crushed and re-crushed.

For the havoc at Nevada’s Hoover Dam, the production built a length of road at the Outback Spectacular Car Park and portions of the tunnel on a shaker base on stage, which the VFX team then transformed into a large-scale event whereby the dam cracks open and the road disintegrates. Similarly, San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge was represented by a 55-foot mid-section of physical construction with breakaway pieces that could be filmed from either side, then digitally augmented.

Lawrence’s office and the Caltech seismology lab, where he and his team scramble for information while aftershocks threaten the power and their own safety, were built on a space at Brisbane’s Archerfield Airport, adjacent to another space that stood in for Ray’s LAFD base. “It had that wonderful 1950s architecture and detail, with painted concrete columns and a linoleum floor,” recalls Jacinta Leong, one of the three art directors on the film.

Paul Giamatti, recalls, “Since Brad wanted to do a lot of it practically, we were sitting there on the Caltech set while guys were shaking the desks, and lights were swinging and going out. It put us right into the moment.”

Costume designer Wendy Chuck notes that by the story’s dramatic finish not only have all these characters been through hell, so has their clothing. Due to the rapid sequence of events, nearly all the cast appear in a single outfit, but that outfit represents a multitude of duplicates, incrementally stressed and weathered. “We had blood, dirt, damage, all stages of deterioration,” she says. “You could see the layout of the story just by looking at the wardrobe.”

 

“California Dreaming”

To create the music for “San Andreas,” Peyton again turned to Andrew Lockington, the composer on both “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.” Beginning the process at the earliest possible point, Peyton explains, “The way I like to build the world is to look at the tone and the music. For ‘San Andreas,’ the question was how to create an original, epic and very emotional score, so we just dove in and started playing around to find the themes and the vibe of this movie. You can play the characters or you can play the event, so you need to decide, ‘Is this a moment where we’re grounding the experience in someone’s point of view or offering the larger view?'”

Always open to unique influences, Lockington incorporated one that was especially appropriate: sounds derived from actual waveform data collected from the San Andreas Fault a year ago. “Using real-time seismic event data collected from the U.S. Geological Survey, we found seismic elements that could be manipulated to create these incredible sounds,” he offers. “We didn’t use it very much, but it’s a sprinkled touch, particularly under the Caltech scenes.”

To capture a sense of discord, Lockington relates, “I got an old piano and spent two days destroying it with sledge hammers and wire cutters. We had only planned to record hitting it with the hammers, and those sounds are blended in with the orchestral elements in the film. After that, I sat down to play this broken instrument that was hanging on by a thread, and I could play notes, but they didn’t sound like they were supposed to, and it no longer even sounded like a piano. So suddenly we had this whole new instrument – and some of those sounds figure prominently in certain scenes as well. It’s an interesting rhythmic element.”

The composer then worked with a programmer to synthesize portions of the damaged piano notes into what he calls “a raw, terrifying noise that feels almost like a fist dropping down on the rest of the score.'”

Transitioning from fear and destruction to perseverance and hope, Lockington also introduced portions of a boys’ choir “to cut through everything else that’s going on and get into the depths of emotion of these characters and their will to overcome. We also have a very beautiful theme that transcends the disaster, with a lot of strings.”

Consistent with that tone, multiple Grammy nominee and international chart-topping artist Sia interpreted the 1960s classic “California Dreaming” for the “San Andreas” soundtrack. Produced by Oliver Kraus, the song was performed by Sia especially for the film, and is heard in tandem with its closing beats and end credits to echo the evocative and uplifting notes of the story’s big finale.

“When we talk in terms of locking into a character’s experience with the music, we’re trying to see what they see,” says Brad Peyton, who could just as well apply that to his overall approach. “Beyond the epic action, buildings coming down and waves crashing through a city, there are love stories, emotional connections and the idea of a family putting itself back together.”

“It’s the kind of story I love to tell: high concept, high emotion,” Flynn says. “There are a lot of powerful themes in ‘San Andreas’ and it’s also incredibly entertaining. I’m fascinated with the concept of what makes a hero.”

“There’s action, love, drama, and heroes,” Dwayne Johnson sums up. “And, there’s the greatest foe known to man: Mother Nature.”

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