#3. Evan Almighty Built an Actual Ark
Aside from a new summerhouse for Morgan Freeman, no one was expecting much out of the sequel to Bruce Almighty that nobody asked for. So you'd be forgiven for believing that Evan Almighty was such a cynical cash grab that nobody would give enough shits to, we dunno, build a perfect re-creation of Noah's Ark from the ground up.
These four pics show more structure and construction than the entire script.
Designed by Linda DeScenna, a production designer who worked on Blade Runner and Back to the Future Part II, the wooden monstrosity was constructed to be 250 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 50 feet high, in the middle of a Virginia housing development. Because fuck models.
"Fuck homeowners associations too."
And when the crew wasn't basking in its glory, they were shooting on a separate 90-foot-long indoor version of the ark, along with 200 live animals of 90 species ranging from lions to otters to horses, all being handled by 86 trainers.
"Don't worry; we've got the leash to protect us."
With all those animals running around, care had to be taken to make sure that all the ones that would have liked to eat each other weren't left in the same room together. The lion needed four trainers alone. Of course, the original Noah managed the same feat with just his family, so props to him, we guess.
For a film with tons of CGI arks and animals, it's almost as if they did it all just to see how much money it would take -- especially when you consider that the ark set was disassembled within a week after the shoot ended, like some kind of "get in, get out" covert biblical spy mission.
#2. The Evil Dead Remake Tried to Kill Its Actors
When the 2013 Evil Dead remake was announced, fans gave a sigh of nerd relief upon learning the director's plan to exclude any CGI in hopes of preserving the spirit of the 1981 version. While that obviously involved a cool handful of prosthetic and makeup effects, most of us probably didn't think he was also talking about the sinister torture that was inflicted on the original production's cast and crew.
For example, when you're making a CGI-free movie that includes a scene in which someone vomits blood on another person's face for a full half-minute, there's unfortunately only one real way to do it: waterboarding the actress.
Presenting the first time the real thing is more horrifying than the Rule 34 version.
That's what Jane Levy was made to do to co-star Jessica Lucas, who just had to lie back and think of her bad decisions while taking a fire hose blast of slimy red goop. Their understanding was that she would pinch Levy when she began to suffocate.
Levy called being on the giving end of the act the least favorite thing she's done in her life -- which is saying a lot considering everything else they made her do in that movie, like when they covered her face in plastic and buried her alive.
"Be cool, we've practiced this on dozens of test babies."
No, really. While they easily could have put a dummy or something in the ground, that just wouldn't convey the realism the filmmakers were going for, so they fitted Levy with an oxygen tube (that would occasionally stop working) and a plastic bag tied around her dome, and then they covered her with dirt. Because it's not a really realistic horror movie if you're not actively trying to murder your cast.
#1. The Film Russian Ark Was Done in a Single Grueling Shot
Steering away from big-budget blockbusters about exploding robots and iron men, Russian Ark is a 2002 Russian art house film in which the characters mostly walk around quietly discussing paintings. But what sets this movie apart is that the entire thing is one 86-minute-long unbroken shot. That means that every time an actor fumbled a line or the boom mic slipped into the shot, they had to stop the camera, put every single cast member back to their starting positions, and start filming again from minute one.
If that doesn't sound challenging enough, the thing was filmed in a real museum that they were only allowed to shut down for a couple of days. The next time you hear someone in Hollywood complain about a filming schedule that only gives them a few months, imagine being told you have 36 hours to build your set, assemble your actors, and shoot your movie from beginning to end. Oh, and when we say "actors," we're talking about the full cast of around 1,860 people.
To elaborate: In the span of 36 hours, the production team had to remove all the museum items and truck in equipment:
"At least they said they were with production ..."
Build and light portable sets in 36 separate rooms:
Bus in the nearly 2,000 actors and extras dressed in authentic clothing by 65 costume designers and 50 makeup artists:
And get a Steadicam operator to wear 77 pounds of camera:
"Thank God I got paid up front."
And then they just went for it -- shooting a film that involved dancing scenes, an orchestral performance, horses, and a final sequence involving 300 extras. As you can imagine, it took a bit of planning.
"In case of failure, instructions on how to make a noose are on the back."
Then there was the fact that they had to shoot both indoors and outdoors at -24 degrees, which meant that at any point during the temperature transition the camera lens could have fogged up and ruined the entire movie right then and there.
It took four takes to get it right. By the time the camera started rolling for the fourth time, the light was fading, the batteries were almost dead, and it would have taken only one more screw-up to sink the entire project. The whole thing was so unnerving that by the end the director looked somewhere between a new father and a flood victim.
Thirty-six hours was also the amount time of he'd spend in the fetal position when it was over.
And that wasn't even the guy holding the camera -- who almost gave up near the end of the film after the weight of the ordeal started causing him groin pain. Luckily he kept going, and we wound up with a cinematic achievement that most Western audiences will never know exists. It's on Netflix -- go give it a watch, just to see what can be accomplished in a few days when a group of artists are ambitious (and crazy) enough to see it through.
Want to know more interesting tidbits about famous movies? Check out 30 Mind-Blowing (True) Facts about Famous Movie Scenes and 36 Plot Holes You Never Noticed in Famous Movie Scenes.
Related Reading: If you're a fan of easter eggs, click here. You'll learn about how each character in The Departed was marked for death. And did you know they painted the whole set sepia for The Wizard of Oz? If you're interested in the insane messages you never noticed in famous films, click here.