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Posted July 9, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film Terminator Genisys (2015)


About the Production

Genisys: The Beginning

In 1984, a cyborg arrived from the future. He was called the Terminator. Among the millions enthralled by this new cinematic icon were producers David Ellison and Dana Goldberg, their own filmmaking future still ahead of them.

As Ellison recalls: “The Terminator franchise-and really James Cameron-is a seminal part of why I got into filmmaking in the first place; to me, he’s simply one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. I think Terminator 2 reinvented the modern day tent pole. So, for me to get to work on a franchise that is literally something I fell in love with as a kid, and which led to my wanting to become a filmmaker, is just a dream come true.”

Dana Goldberg adds, “When it was announced that The Terminator rights were going to be available, we were obviously interested-as were many others in the industry, because it is such an incredible franchise. The first two Terminators, in particular, are movies that David and I revere. And at Skydance, we love making big, event movies. The idea of resetting Terminator for both the audiences that loved the originals and a whole new audience was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

The rights under their belts, the Skydance Productions duo began to scout writers for the mammoth project, including writer/producers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier. Kalogridis remembers, “David and Dana approached us around Christmas 2012, and our first response was ‘No’, as was our second and third response. We said no because of respect for James Cameron’s universe. I had worked with him for years-he’s an inspiration to me personally and cinematically-and I did not want in any way, shape or form to do anything that would not be respectful of what he had created. It’s some of the most amazing science fiction ever, and he is certainly an inspiration to me, and not just me- he’s one of the greatest living filmmakers, and possibly, ever.”

But Skydance was persistent, so Kalogridis checked with Cameron himself, who not only granted his permission and gave his blessing, but started the ‘idea bouncing’ chain reaction inevitable in any great pre-production phase, advising Kalogridis: “Make sure you write a good part for Arnold!” Patrick Lussier comments, “Laeta became infected with the idea, and once we started thinking of the story possibilities-and re-watching the first two Terminator films-we could see how to revisit that world and those characters in a present day setting… and not in a present day setting.”

Kalogridis continues, “Time travel is embedded in the DNA of the material, which gives rise to the possibility of alternate universes and different time-lines without affecting the original material at all. Those stories exist and continue to exist, they still have happened, but you can tell a different story that branches off in a different direction using the characters that all of us love.”

Both the 1980s’ worlds of global politics and filmmaking that gave rise to the original films have changed tremendously. The Terminator proclaimed “I’ll be back” a full five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and when the realization of the full potential of computer generated imagery was still decades away. The light years that have passed since the first Earthly adventures of the T-800 opened up countless avenues of exploration to the Terminator Genisys filmmakers.

“The Cameron films to me were really Cold War era films,” notes Ellison, “where the analogy that was being laid on top of the story was very much the threats felt during that time period. The advancements in AI give us the ability to really update the franchise to today, to where Skynet no longer has to break free-we’re actually lining ourselves up and giving away our privacy, our freedoms, our information. We’re standing in line for the latest in technology and software. The canon lends itself to comment on what is actually going on today in a way that’s new and fun and exciting-it comes across in a big entertaining way. To me, science fiction is at its most effective when it’s actually taking real world events and placing them in a fictional setting.”

At the heart of it all, felt the “Genisys” filmmakers, was the ‘dysfunctional family’ and its love story Cameron placed at the center of the films-among the Terminators, the potential obliteration of the entire human race, the filmic feats of illusion. The same story hook resonated for the project’s director, Alan Taylor.

Producer Ellison says, “We knew we had to have a director who cared about character, and the love story of this family. Yes, there’s a lot of action in ‘Terminator’ movies and we definitely plan to live up to that promise. There are a lot of people who are great at shooting action, but only a handful or so that we thought could get true character-driven performances in the midst of it all. We all pray at the altar of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ and we thought ‘Thor: The Dark World’ was phenomenal. And, sure enough, when Alan came in, he said that we could talk about what the Terminators are going to look like, and how many of them there are, and the different types, and how the third act fight is going to look, but the love story and relationships have to work. He said that in our first meeting, and we thought, ‘Okay, this is the right guy.'”

For Taylor, some of the appeal of making the film was the sheer challenge of working out how to do it: “It’s funny,” admits Taylor, “I was looking at various potential projects but this was the first one that felt like I couldn’t at the beginning tell exactly how to do it: it was a puzzle to solve it and that made it exciting and interesting. There’s so much to love in the Cameron mythology, and so much that the audience we’re hoping to reach is already in love with. At the same time the story’s moving forward – it’s got to get bigger and go into new directions and unlike other sequels this felt like a whole new ballgame and I wanted to see how we could pull that off.”

Frequent Taylor collaborator (and his future Sarah Connor), actress Emilia Clarke, sees the director’s accomplishment in his honoring the subject matter while giving it a new relevancy. Emilia Clarke observes, “Alan manages to get a beautiful marriage of old meets new, but also puts a very sensitive, intelligent spin on it. I think one of his goals with this movie is to ask what it is to be truly free as a human being, and the choices these characters have to make in deciding that. I think we are paying a lot of respect to the Terminator that has been before, and bringing it to this new audience today.”

“What we’ve tried to do,” says Taylor, “is to begin in timelines that we know from the mythology and then take them in new directions, and do it in a way that makes sense so we see a future that we saw glimpses of in the previous movies and then we dive to a past that we’ve seen glimpses of in the past movies but this film tries to take us into new territory behind that while not contradicting any of the things we already know about this mythology.”

Producer Goldberg comments, “To me, great science fiction is always more than just the bells and whistles of things blowing up. I still remember watching ‘The Terminator’ and thinking, way back then, ‘Oh wow, this is a love story.’ It’s this amazing science fiction movie and Arnold Schwarzenegger is this killer robot-it’s all incredibly cool. But to me, it all boiled down to the line, ‘I came across time for you, Sarah.’ And somehow, Cameron figured out a way to present this love story to mass audiences as this unbelievable science fiction movie.

“And in ‘Terminator 2,'” the producer continues, “one of my favorite parts of the movie was in a Sarah Connor voiceover, where she talks about how the Terminator that she hated so much [in the first movie] would be the perfect father for her son. He’d never abandoned him, he’d never hurt him, he would always be there for him-in Cameron’s movies, you have both the incredible visuals and the groundedness in reality, the emotional story at the center of it all.”

To begin the telling of “Terminator Genisys,” filmmakers open the movie with the final assault of the remaining humans on the machines, led by John Connor and Kyle Reese, in what could be the twilight of mankind. Dana Gold- berg explains, “We open with Kyle Reese as a child, talking about what had happened before he was born-that humans beings basically got complacent and allowed machines to take over the world. Eventually, the machines decided that humans were a threat, seizing control of missile defense systems and wiping out three-billion people. That was Judgment Day.”

In this film’s current day, 2029, the resistance rallies, and believe they have conquered Skynet, only to discover that the machines have launched their version of a fail-safe-the first tactical time displacement weapon, sending a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor, John’s mother, before she has a chance to conceive and give birth to the future leader of the human resistance.

Fans will no doubt recognize the Terminator’s arrival in the Los Angeles of 1984, but will also soon realize that this story launches into new, splintered directions.

David Ellison notes, “The 1984 that our characters travel back to has been altered since the original movie-events have transpired that have driven it in a completely different direction. Also those films were always set in present day, not in the future, not in the past. Ours bends that set-up. And so, through a series of events, our characters find themselves traveling forward to 2017 in an attempt to stop Judgment Day from ever happening.”

Dana Goldberg acknowledges, “We wanted to be incredibly respectful to the characters Gale [Anne Hurd] and James Cameron created. So we finally arrived at the place of whatever timeline you’re talking about, when you’re talking about the Terminator world, there’s always going to be a Sarah Connor, a Kyle Reese, a John Connor, a Terminator-they just might not be the identical people they were in the prior films. That’s the attitude we started and stayed with going into the development of the script. They are all here…just not exactly the people that have been represented in films previously.”

Filmmakers did get to delve into their inner sci-fi geeks, with a fairly meticulous recreation of the initial sequence of Kyle Reese landing in 1984, down to the homeless man in the alley and the dog. But along with the familiar is a T-1000-a huge signal of all expectations being blown sky high.

Per Goldberg, “Reese goes back as he did before, being told that Sarah Connor is a fairly helpless woman working as a waitress-she’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, but you’ll need to save her, even though she doesn’t believe. Then, not only is he greeted by a Terminator, which completely surprises and confuses him, but then Sarah arrives in a huge fashion, and it’s her character that has the famous line, ‘Come with me if you want to live.'”

 

Casting The Future, Past & Present

According to David Ellison, “‘Terminator Genisys’ is not a remake, it’s not a reboot, it’s not a sequel-it’s really a reimagining based on the Cameron source material. Viewers don’t have to be familiar with any of the previous films at all-this is definitely a stand-alone. But that being said, for the fans who have seen the first couple of films, there are some great Easter eggs in there. Exploiting the inherent nature of time travel, we go off on a divergent timeline to take these characters that audiences and I grew up with in a completely new direction.”

First on the roster, the title character himself, brought to iconic life again by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I don’t think you can make a Terminator movie without Arnold,” suggests Taylor. “Certainly, I couldn’t imagine it without him. There’s something about the way he and Cameron built that character and then within the two movies explored such different sides of that character that he basically set the parameters for that world – that mythology means it would be really hard for me to think of a Terminator movie that let go of him.”

“I was very happy to be involved,” admits Schwarzenegger. “I got a phone call telling me that David and Megan Ellison had acquired the rights and the first thing I thought was, “Finally they are doing another one! And finally I am again in the movie! Also, I was very happy when I heard who was writing the script. I just liked the direction it was taking from the beginning.”

Screenwriter Kalogridis says, “I considered Arnold’s character the ulti- mate Tin Man-how does he become the cornerstone and the heart of the story, for a character that essentially has no heart? There was something really tantalizing about the idea of Arnold playing a Terminator who has aged-of not trying to do any crazy CG stuff, but to respect the change in the actor. The Terminator was always very much of its time-so to be able to tell the story in the moment and the age that Arnold is…it interested us all. The human tissue surrounding the cyborg ages, but he’s also aged on the inside through his very long experience with humans all this time. We thought it would be so much fun to explore.”

“It’s like riding a bicycle,” grins Schwarzenegger. “You fall right back into it. I remember when I read the script and I started then practicing the lines. I started talking like a machine again. It was kind of like you slip into that character.”

Producer Ellison notes, “You can’t call a movie ‘Terminator’ without THE Terminator. In this movie Arnold is playing a character that was sent back in time to when Sarah Connor was nine-years-old-he was not able to save both her parents, but he was able to save her and raise her since that time. He’s been her protector, her warrior, her Guardian. Fighting for that long, he has a little wear, a few glitches. Also, his learning processor has been on that whole time, so by the time he’s traveled forward, he’s had more than 30 years to answer that question of can he actually be human? How does he interact with Sarah in that role, and then once Kyle comes along, how does Kyle’s falling in love with Sarah change that? Of course, Arnold’s also in some amazing action scenes-he is Arnold, after all-and I think people are going to see that he’s back and he’s better than ever.”

“If you’re going to have Arnold you’ve got to use him in a brand new way,” insists Taylor. “You can’t just do the same thing again so in our approach it was very important to me that we see a whole different take on this character that we take him in places that he never was able to go before. You know, he’s evolving, growing, maturing and that led to a brand new version of his character.”

The evolution of the character was something Schwarzenegger considered carefully: “I protect Sarah Connor, and anything that is coming close to her, or is threatening her I terminate. So I’m the Terminator in some ways, and I’m the Protector in another way. So you have to be very careful in how you play that in each moment. It helped I think that I’ve had daughters – my first daughter was born when we did “ʺTotal Recall”ʺ I remember in Mexico, and she’s now twenty-five years old. And so when you grow up, and when you’re father of two daughters, I think you learn a lot including how to be protective. I think that experience helped me a lot.”

Deep appreciation of Schwarzenegger and his larger-than-life presence was shared by filmmakers and performers alike. Jason Clarke offers, “I learned a lot from Arnold, not only while shooting, but just by being around him. Not that he sets out to be a good teacher, but he’s a pro at what he does, and he has a wonderful joy about life-he’s a great conversationalist, he’s interested in a lot of things. To see him again in this signature role, well, it’s been great. He’s really the glue in this whole thing.”

As the Guardian’s de facto daughter, Sarah Connor, filmmakers chose Emilia Clarke for the role. “We go back a long way,” smiles Taylor, clearly happy to be working with his Game of Thrones star again.

Producer Ellison interjects, “We all love Game of Thrones, and there is a strength, and a sense of honor and nobility to Emilia-those are things that can’t be taught. You either have them or you don’t. I think those attributes work perfectly for Sarah Connor, whom I consider a seminal female heroine in cinema.”

Clarke echoes her colleagues when she says, “Arnold is the first thing that comes to mind when you say ‘Terminator,’ and you can’t do it without him. Probably what I love the most about this script is the relationship between the Guardian and Sarah. It’s the heart. It’s beautiful. We get to see his character in this whole other gorgeous light. Watching her all this time has kind of softened him-except, of course, when people have tried to kill her. That hasn’t softened him at all!”

While the guardianship of Sarah has had an effect on the Guardian, the Guardian’s presence has also affected Sarah. Jason Clarke feels, “Emilia brings a strength in femininity-the Sarah we pick up now is different. She didn’t have to grow up without a strong parental presence. I think there’s a bit more confidence in the woman, not just the paranoia of knowing there’s a future out there that’s trying to end her existence. There’s a bit more ‘girl about town’ that I think helps-you can see her truly start to fall in love with Reese.”

Writer/producer Kalogridis enjoyed not only shaping these altered versions of the characters, but also creating what the filmmakers named “callbacks” (or homage references to the original films). She explains, “In the first film, Kyle takes Sarah on a car ride and gives all of the exposition-now we have Sarah doing the ex-pos with the guns. It’s an homage to the first film, but also an extension of what would Sarah have been like if her life had been radically different- if she had realized who she was and what she was supposed to do at a far younger age. What would she have been like when she and Kyle first met? It would have been very different, and exploring that was a lot of the fun of it.”

The chemistry between Sarah and Reese was at the forefront of producer Goldberg’s mind when filmmakers began to audition actors for the part. She says, “We’d done the movie ‘Jack Reacher’ with Jai Courtney and loved him as a person, and thought he was a wonderful actor. We weren’t sure he was Reese. He came in and he tested with Emilia, and I remember standing on the stage watching his audition, and I emailed someone and said, ‘We just found our Kyle Reese.’ It was clear their first read together.”

“When I heard there was going to be a fifth installment to this franchise,” says Courtney, “I didn’t freak out to begin with – I’ve been involved with pre- existing things before – and then I read the script in a locked room, you know with cell phones handed in and all that sort of stuff. That’s when I got pretty excited! I realized that that the guys behind this had the intention of making something pretty cool. That’s when I became invested in the idea. It was a pretty funny process getting the role, I was on a film in Australia shooting so I got on a plane Saturday morning, landed in LA, went straight to the audition with Alan and the producers and Emilia, got back on a plane to Australia that night back, missed Sunday and showed up for work Monday morning. So, just because of the 30 hours I had to spend in the air that weekend I was pretty sure I wanted this role just to make it worth it and fortunately it all worked out.”

Casting the part of John Connor-particularly for this John Connor, whose character runs the gamut from messianic to maniacal-was an acknowledged challenge among filmmakers. Dana Goldberg begins, “We knew John Connor was going to be one of the hardest roles to cast, because he has to be charismatic-here’s the guy people who have no hope choose to be their hope. These are people who’ve had everything taken away from them, and yet, when this man stands up and says that it’s time to fight, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for him.”

David Ellison continues, “The thing about John Connor is he’s tortured. For some, he’s a prophet, but he says in our movie that he cheats, that his mother raised him and told him everything that was going to happen. That’s a huge burden, and something we’ve found fascinating about John Connor’s character- he will lead all of these people and, in reality, he knows that a great deal of them are going to die.”

Adds Goldberg, “There’s a moment in the film where John wishes a sol- dier good luck, and the soldier says that he doesn’t need luck-he has John Connor. When we shot it, David and I traded smiles, because we knew that Jason would just fill that moment with everything going on inside-appreciating what the soldier said, but also wishing that there was another world in which this was not his position to fulfill. We think people are going to be blown away by Jason Clarke in this movie.”

Clarke himself says, “One of the things that really made me want to be in this project was to work with Alan Taylor. He’s a very smart man, he knows story and he knows actors, and he’s done some of the greatest TV ever done-‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Mad Men.’ He’s got a wonderful doggedness, but also a gentleness. Going in, you know a film like this will be a long, big tough shoot, and it requires a director that’s going to support you and keep you going, and also just keep an eye on everything and know that it’s done properly. He never moved until we got it, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him.”

In setting out to honor but also break free from the first movies, Goldberg acknowledges that some of the original imagery is all but impossible to forget. She says, “You say T-1000, and you immediately remember Robert Patrick in that police uniform-it’s an instant flash. We knew we didn’t want to copy it. It seems deceptively simple to cast, but we needed to move in a way that is specific yet different, creepy and scary all at the same time. There needs to be a real physicality for the role, and we knew from ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ that Byung-hun Lee had it in spades. Turns out he is a huge fan of the originals. We knew he’d be great, and he surpassed all of our hopes. When we were shooting his scenes, people on the set just started referring to him as ‘creepy goodness,’ because every scene he did something really creepy and really good, all at the same time.”

Byung-hun Lee admits, “I have some history with this movie. I was really influenced a lot by it when I was a teenager. When I was in high school, everybody called me Terminator, because they thought I looked like him and because I was the champion of arm wrestling. So it was kind of a coincidence to get a part in this project-it was really great.”

Matt Smith, cast in the part of T-5000, also has teenage memories of the series: “Growing up in the 80’s I think, for anyone who’s about my age, these movies, the first two in particular, were seminal films and just really ahead of their time. When the opportunity arose, I couldn’t wait to be involved.”

Slotted in the role of San Francisco Police Officer (later Inspector) O’Brien-who encounters Sarah, Reese and the Terminator in 1984, and then crosses paths with them again in 2017-was J.K. Simmons. He remembers, “I got a call about the project, and I asked to read the script, which I did, and which turned out to be really great. I knew about all of the talented people involved and the new actors. And I saw that Arnold was back, and I thought the way they handled his character being older than he was in the original-it was wonderful and I jumped onboard. My character’s spent the last 33 years being ridiculed by everyone on the police force, because he’s been telling a story about robots and strange people since 1984. So he has a lot going on, but he is also redeemed somewhat, and it has been great to play.”

“The dynamics of this film are real and urgent and intimate,” says Taylor. Fortunately, we have the actors who can pull it off. Kyle and Sarah are played by young actors who are just starting to become massively recognized and then the ‘middle generation’, our John Connor is Jason Clarke who is a masterful actor, as is of course J.K. Simmons. And then you’ve got Arnold who sort of keeps everybody else in line because he just nails it every time. It’s funny, we’d be doing a scene and he’s got this character so down that he kind of forced everybody else to get their characters down too.”

 

Prepping For Judgment Day…and Beyond

The weeks prior to the start of principal photography for “Terminator Genisys” saw the talent entering the arena of training-the very physical shooting schedule included stunts, fights, heavy wirework and…weapons.

Emilia Clarke jokes, “Yeah, there was training every day with guns, lots of guns, and then some more guns, and then a few more guns thrown in. I didn’t know anything about guns before this film, and now, well, I know a lot about guns! Since I had done some stunt work before, they also had me preparing, to get a physical understanding of what was going to be needed. This Sarah was brought up by a Terminator to be a warrior, so she has a huge body of knowledge when it comes to fighting and survival. So a lot of what was done was to help me feel comfortable embodying that part of Sarah, always being prepared. I worked with an amazing military advisor, and a weapons specialist, and then stunts and just physical training.”

“I think it’s a testament to how hard everyone worked,” smiles Courtney, “that the demands of the shoot led to a situation where two Australians in the same cast didn’t even have time to get a beer together!”

Of course, it wasn’t just those in front of the camera who were preparing for a new world order. Prop master Diana Burton and weapons master Harry Lu were also attempting to become part machine in their design work. Diana Burton says, “One thing that went along with this story is the fact that if machines are designing weapons for machines, they don’t care about the design. They just care about function. So we had to become machines ourselves somewhat when we were thinking about what kind of guns that they would create, keeping in mind they’re not creating them for anything aesthetic-it’s only utilitarian, only for function. So we had to remember not to get too ‘design-y.'” Their arsenal wound up featuring large plasma guns, courtesy of the machines, as well as manmade weapons modified to fire plasma.

But the film features three different time periods so, per Harry Lu, “We needed to fit each period with the proper weapons, so that the historians and the gun buffs would be satisfied.”

Burton adds, “We wanted to hearken to the past, but also bring some things into the future. And also, Arnold had a big say in the weapons he wanted to use.”

Lu and Burton welcomed the suggestions, and wound up with weaponry “that was beautiful and performed without a single malfunction.” For the 1984 sequences, the Guardian utilizes a Remington 1100, which Burton calls “functional and slick.” In 2017, he is armed with M3 and M4 Benellis-“beautiful shotguns representing the high-tech end.”

For Sarah, the design team needed to arm her with a key weapon that had to meet two requirements. It needed to function as a sniper rifle that could take down a Terminator from a distance; but the script also called for her to blow the back door off of an armored truck at close range. “We chose a .50 caliber Barrett, which is proper for 1984,” explains Burton.

Burton and Lu estimate the final tally of weapons on the set of “Terminator Genisys”ʺ at around 500, which included the specially fashioned ones, the rubbers and the replicas, and the real and collectible period pieces.

In the world of TG, however, practically anything can become a weapon- including a big yellow school bus. One massive set-piece of the film involves a bus toppling end over end, and finally dangling off the Golden Gate Bridge. The performers who were included in the sequence prepared for filming by practicing harness work. All the while, filmmakers kept at the drawing board, working on the sequence, to render it both safe (for the actors) and intense (for the audience).

In the end, the production was able to leave the bus “wheels down” for filming by employing clever camera placement and angles, and creative rigging for the harnesses-along with some post-production magic, the final illusion created is one of the vehicle hanging precipitously off the famous landmark bridge, with the characters inside clinging for dear life.

For veteran Korean action star Lee, it wasn’t so much the stunt prep that he found the most challenging. Lee says, “Action-wise this film was very different for me, because I’ve never had to act not as a human-as a machine, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breathe. We mostly discussed how I should move with the stunt team-and since there’s no final answer actually, we just kept discussing and bringing ideas. Then we just chose the way we wanted to do it.”

Jason Clarke relished the physicality, the fights and the super-human feats his character is called upon to perform. He says, “We all worked very hard to be true to the story’s heritage, but also keep it imaginative. It’s some of the most enjoyable action I’ve ever done-great fighting moves, spinning around, pile-driver maneuvers-it has just been so cool.”

In some scenes, the action called for was well beyond human execution, even for the most accomplished of bodybuilding action superstars or experienced stunt performers. For those special circumstances, production called upon Jason Matthews from Legacy Effects (the company begun by Stan Winston, pioneering effects artist whose work is seen in the original Terminator movie franchise) to create a silicone replica of the supremely pumped and buff Schwarzenegger circa 1984, outfitted with steel armature and physiologically truthful joints, using measurements and face casts from the time around the shooting and release of the original film. The replica was used when danger prohibited the participation of any live performers, and also during the scenes where the older Arnold meets his younger self in 1984. (A “stunt” duplicate was also built, but using a softer foam material, so it could be subjected to more hazardous situations…and live through it.)

Legacy Effects’ Mike Manzel and other artists also worked on creating updated versions of the endoskeleton of the T-800 (the model of the original Terminator). Modern painting techniques and composite structural substances (epoxies, resins) made for less weighty skeletons, with surface effects replacing the chroming process of the 1984 T-800. The final ‘hero’ endoskeleton took a crew of about 15 artists a little over a month to complete and boasted of more than 260 separate pieces, all sculpted by hand. And thanks to such advances as the 3D printer, duplicates could be created in a more post-Millennial manner. Instead of hand sculpting, each piece would emerge from the 3D printer (some pieces taking as long as 48 hours to print). From there, they would be molded, sanded and subjected to finishing work. “However,” Manzel offers, “in reality, I still think it takes just as much finesse to create these as it did back in the day- it’s just using another tool to produce the final project.”

 

Genisys Begins

Although a few of the characters of “Terminator Genisys” may make their entrances sans clothing, the overwhelming majority of scenes required actors to be suited in clothes and gear apropos of the era and their scripted purpose.

Costume designer Susan Matheson was eager to step up to the challenges of a big-budget science fiction film: “One of the most exciting aspects of getting asked to design this movie was the final war set in the future-knowing that I would have this entire world that I could create from nothing,” says Matheson. “In actuality, the reason I decided to become a costume designer for film was really the fact that I was completely inspired by ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Mad Max.’ Those are the two movies that said to me, ‘Oh, I don’t have to be designing costumes for Shakespeare-I could be taking these elements and putting them into a film.” So inspired was the young Matheson by the visuals of these films that her designs for a college production of “Macbeth” included a gas mask on a sleeve and a prominently featured leather biker jacket.

The various groups and periods covered in the screenplay compelled Matheson to seek authenticity for each specified character and situation. Take the human resistance fighters making their last stand against machines: “They’re a ragtag group of people that are just making do with what they’ve found in this post-apocalyptic civilization. They’ve looked through the rubble and they’ve re-purposed things. So, for example, I’ve got people wearing armor made out of a California license plate, and arm and shoulder piece made from repurposed tires. These warriors are going to use anything they can get their hands on to produce their own gear.”

Matheson worked closely with Burton in fashioning the body armor for the resistance and, once created, they needed to be covered in “the post- apocalyptic dust.” That’s where the cement mixers came in-the shop reverberated with multiple mixers going at all times, and costume pieces were subjected to a tumble with rocks and gravel, “because once you throw something into a cement mixer with rocks, especially if they’re rubber pieces, they start to pick up a patina.” After the mixers, pieces were sprayed with various applications of glue, dirt and paint, all to achieve the look that “these people have been living, sleeping, eating in these outfits continuously without any change.”

But beneath all of the armor, dirt and grime, Matheson strove to create the sense of a Los Angeles after the blast. She explains, “If we had had an explosion in Los Angeles in the ’90s, what would people have looked like? The culture in the city features a lot of team wear, the Dodgers, the Kings, the Lakers. There is a conglomeration of multiple cultures and ethnicities, and also the influence of gang culture. The camera may not catch everything we put in, but we worked to establish a sense of the city if it had nearly been annihilated in the ’90s-even down to a Hello Kitty T-shirt requested by David Ellison.”

Specificity of time and place is also seen in the costumes of the story’s main characters. Punk rock culture of the ’80s informs what Sarah wears- leather biker jacket, cargo pants and Doc Martens (“And she’s ready to kick ass,” laughs Matheson). Once Reese is displaced into 1984, he steals the pants off of a homeless man, and then dashes into a discount department store, where he dons a military surplus trench and a pair of Nike Vandal sneakers. (Matheson proudly explains that one of her greatest triumphs on the project was when she heard that Paramount had persuaded Nike to re-create the original Nike Vandal from 1984, “down to the color and the Velcro straps!”) Two costumers were sent on thrift stores expeditions, one time turning up the drab green trench-which turned out to be a popular coat from the period, “so that started a hunt to try and find these trenches all over America, with people calling everywhere in the country to find the Kyle Reese coat.”

Those collisions of past and present were not infrequent during shooting. One such occurrence resonated deeply with producer Dana Goldberg: “One of my favorite moments was when we were shooting at the Griffith Park Observatory the very first night-it’s Arnold’s reveal in the movie, where Arnold as the Guardian comes upon Arnold as the 1984 Terminator. And I looked around at the crew, the night we were shooting it, and every single person-male, female, 20, 60, it didn’t matter-had the same grin, because we were watching Arnold do that thing… The man has done a tremendous amount of impressive things in his life, but here is the thing he was born to do, and he’s phenomenal at it. All of a sudden, we were stepping back in time, remembering being in the audiences for T1 and T2. And we were here, now, with him, back in this character he knows like the back of his hand. Then, we were all stunned when he fired off a shotgun four times and never blinked. We were all deeply impressed by the fact that somehow, you could actually shoot off a fully loaded shotgun four times and not blink once. Then he told us that he learned how to do it on the first Terminator film. And I don’t think he’s ever blinked since, I’m not sure!”

No stranger to big sets and big projects, Emilia Clarke was still impressed by the enormous undertaking of filming “Terminator Genisys.” She says, “It’s just epic. For every three minutes of footage onscreen, it has taken something like two weeks of shooting. Every minute detail has been thought through and beautifully executed. Every member of the crew is incredible, the sets are insane, the costumes are amazing. There is just so much-and I also have to keep reminding myself, while I’m in the middle of this epic scene and I think it couldn’t get any better, that these are totally without special effects, that we’re only filming about 60%-it’s going to look that much cooler, with lots of crazy stuff happening…and no tennis balls on sticks, either!”

 

Going Out With A Bang

Producer David Ellison says, “This is the largest scale Terminator movie that’s ever been made. There are bigger action sequences in Genisys than any prior Terminator film. You’re going to see the fully rendered future war, which nobody has ever been able to do yet, and you’re going to see new Terminators that will hopefully have the exact same impact as when you saw the T-1000 back in 1991. We have set the bar incredibly high, and we’re going for it.”

For producer Dana Goldberg, the size of the film is in direct proportion to the level of talent present in the filmmaking crews. She comments, “It’s a big, big movie. We shot from April through to mid-August, with a lot of six-day weeks.

We had a phenomenal crew who just killed themselves to bring this thing to the screen. No one ever quite understands how much work goes into everything you see on the screen-from hair and makeup, to stunts, to visual effects, to special effects, to rigging, to grips, to lighting, and on and on. It’s a giant undertaking, a movie of this size, and you need all of those pieces working in unison to get it right-and we were beyond fortunate to have a crew that did it right.”

“It’s interesting,” says director Taylor. “We’re sort of letting the audience know that we know what they are expecting and then, ‘Whoosh!’ [laughs] trying to flip it. And that’s something that goes deep into the DNA of the Terminator movies: Cameron’s first movie uses Arnold’s character in one way and then he completely inverted for the second and nobody saw it coming. You can go into new territory with characters that you already have a feeling for but they take you somewhere that you never saw coming.”

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