From the Set of The Dark Knight Rises – Part 1

After talking to Thomas we settled in to watch Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister make their movie. At first, they just shot a couple of football plays to get the crowd warmed up and then they began shooting tracking shots across the audience in the stands. Undaunted by the overwhelming heat, Nolan spent most of the day in a long sleeve shirt (light blue, for those who need to know) and light khaki pants with a strange looking hat that looked like the one worn by the Skipper on “Gilligan’s Island”? Probably appropriate since he is the skipper of this ship. Nolan never hid in the safety of a tent in video village watching on a monitor, always standing right at the camera to see what his DP (and cameraman) Wally Pfister was shooting at any given time. We noticed that they were shooting a lot with the enormous IMAX cameras and that both Nolan and Pfister were always right there on the frontlines.

Although there were reportedly 10,000 people in the stands, they had placed roughly 200 to 300 professional background actors in the crowd, who would be moved around to various sections of the stands to be featured. They also had a good number of stuntmen in the crowd who would mainly be used for a scene where the crowd sees something that sends them into a panic as they duck for cover and rush for the exits. We’d learn what that was later, but we were impressed by how well synchronized they were as Nolan’s AD (assistant director) would count them down to the proper moment to panic and then get everyone back to their seats in an incredibly organized fashion.

Over the course of the day, we continued our interviews with some of the cast and crew. Neither Bale nor Hathaway were shooting that day, but they stopped by fairly early to talk to us briefly before heading to the airport to catch plans to who knows where? Both Hathaway and Tom Hardy gave us a few clues on what’s going to make Nolan’s Bane and Catwoman different from the ones we’ve seen before in both comics and movies, and you can read those full interviews by clicking on the appropriate link below:

Christian Bale – “Bruce Wayne/Batman”

Anne Hathaway – “Selina Kyle/Catwoman”

Tom Hardy – “Bane”

SPOILER WARNING  From here on out, we talk about the specific scene from the movie including possible spoilers for said scene. If you don’t want to know anymore about what happens in the movie, this would be a good place to stop reading.

While we were talking to Hardy, the crowd was given a half-time show as local football legend Hines Ward came out on a camouflaged Batmobile, but then it was time for the real show as the field was being set up for the day’s big stunt sequence. We noticed that while we were doing interviews, the crew had constructed a raised section of the field on a platform roughly three feet above ground, and in that section there was a large hole filled with crash pads in which one of the stuntmen doubling as the quarterback we saw in the earlier play would run and then fall into the hole.

After shooting this sequence a number of times, special FX supervisor Chris Corbould’s crew began to set-up the pyro for the big explosion that would create those holes in the field, strategically placing explosives across the field and covering them with mounds of green foam. When everything was ready, they pulled the trigger on the series of synchronized explosions that would blow up in the middle of the football play as that stuntman we saw earlier would stay just ahead of the explosions. Earlier, we had seen an artist’s concept sketch of what the Gotham Stadium would look like after Bane’s destruction, and let’s just say that the explosions do a lot more damage than sending blocks of foam flying into the air.

Then it was showtime for Bane as the now fully-dressed Hardy marched up to the section of the field untouched by the explosions and his mercenary militia streamed into the stadium causing the already-panicked crowd to get even more freaked out. Bane came out holding a man in a hood, who we were told was someone named “Dr. Pavel.” Mind you, we hadn’t seen the opening sequence from the movie in which Bane kidnaps Pavel that you may have seen in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol last December. At the time, we really didn’t know anything about the man in the hood.

As we’ve seen in the picture and trailer, Bane was dressed more in military gear that belies his roots as a mercenary, but we could see he was wearing a long winter coat with a fur collar. As he turned to our vantage point, we could see Bane’s jaw-like metal mask that covers his face more clearly although we were still quite far away. One of the many things we learned from costume designer Lindy Hemmings when we interviewed her earlier was that Bane needs this mask to pump gas into his system to alleviate pains from which he suffers.

As Bane came forward on the field, a group of men followed him pulling a giant mechanical globe on wheels. This metallic contraption was obviously some kind of bomb, but we learned that Bane planned on using this EMP bomb to knock out the power in Gotham to further the terror of blowing up the football stadium mid-game in his attempt to take over the city.

Bane pulled out a microphone to address the crowd over the P.A. system, but from behind the glass of the press box, we really couldn’t understand what Hardy was saying, though it is something about the contraption being “the instrument of your demise.” We were told that Hardy wasn’t actually saying the lines that would be in the movie but just performing for the crowd, and after saying a few more words, he pushed Pavel down to his knees and then reached down and snapped his neck. This sequence was shot a number of times from different angles.

By the time we left Heinz Field late in the day, we could tell that a lot of the fans who had been in the stands all day were sunburnt and sweaty from spending the day in 100 degree plus weather, but as their faces appeared on the monitor, they all seemed to be smiling and happy, even if they were a darker shade of red than earlier in the day. Before we left, we were given cool gold and black Gotham Rogues jerseys… and hopefully we can find ours to share by the next installment.

We’ll have more from the set of The Dark Knight Rises sometime before it opens on July 20, 2012.