How They Did It: Catching Up with the Insurgent Train

Cinematographer Florian Ballhaus discusses achieving a bigger and trippier Divergent sequel with director Robert Schwentke.

Now that the Divergent rules have been established, director Robert Schwentke was free to experiment with more psychological emphasis and different visual looks that keep us guessing what’s real and what’s a sim for Shailene Woodley’s Tris. Schwentke ’s longtime cinematographer Florian Ballhaus explains the challenges of “The Train” set piece, in which Tris and her friends narrowly escape the Erudites (watch the clip below).

“Filming Insurgent was a unique experience because we had the opportunity to be unusually experimental in the context of an action movie — much more surreal than what is normally allowed. The atmosphere on the set was also shaped by our young and talented actors, an experience I found very refreshing,” Ballhaus said.

Insurgent posed an interesting challenge as a YA franchise sequel: How do you raise the action and jeopardy while still keeping it character-driven and trippy? “We were lucky to have the permission to work with this material in an entirely different way,” Ballhaus continued. “There was very little overlap in terms of location [they shot in Atlanta] and we had a lot of creative space to explore and invent. For the most part,what we tried to do was to make the film look bigger, and give it added scope. We were exploring these different worlds, and making it more intense. The fact that it was so visual effects-intensive meant we had to effect the backgrounds anyway and ended up using a lot of plates and set extensions.

“We shot with the Alexa. But when it came to the drone work, we used the Red Scarlet because the Alexa was too heavy.  It’s the first time I used the XT for a whole movie with its built in recording device. And it’s also the first time I used the Zeiss Master anamorphic  lenses.”

That was another attempt to make the movie feel bigger and surreal.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Tech, VFX

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