Director Neil Marshall, Producer Christian Colson, Celador Films/Pathe - 2005
I took the best cave structures from my research accumulated of all the most spectacular car systems in the world to create something larger and more overpowering to set the action against. This was archived by building large sets at Pinewood Studios, London with some use of models and a digital matte painting.
To set the action off at the start of the cabbing adventure my first cave was a large Entrance Cavern which they abseilied into. This mean that at the start of the story they are already terrifyingly deep rather than gradually descending through a tunnel.
I wanted the cave sets to look very dangerous and difficult to move through for the cast but easy for camera crew to work in. Using real caves would have been impracticable and made for very slow filming.
Director Neil Marshall and I agreed that tight, claustrophobic spaces were as important in the action as the huge oversized caverns. Tunnels were built within very solid timber and scaffolding structures so I could reuse the sets by rotating them, laying them on their side and running water through them to make it look like different parts of the cave system.
Tunnels getting narrower and narrower forces the cagers to crouch, then crawl then squeeze through hoping to find a way out of the cave system.
Scenes in a deserted American Appalachian mountain cabin were shot on location in Berkhamstead just outside London. The building had the perfect exterior (above) but much work was needed on the interior.
Plans and models were made of the set to discuss. The interior was to be redressed as the living room and three bedrooms. A floating partition was introduced to change the proportions and orientation of the space.
An important scene within the movie takes place when the characters come across a sheer drop and the only way to continue is by climbing across the ceiling to a passageway on the far side. I wanted this set to be very dark, sharp and angular as if they fell they'd surely cut to ribbons. I chose a harsh slate finish for this set. Visuals and models were made as a discussion point for choreographing the stunt work.
It was designed with no floor to both aid crew access and ensure that the actresses feet were only 8ft off the stage floor when climbing across the ceiling. The continuation of the drop was painted into the shot in post production.
Coloured light used heavily throughout the film, red flares used in this scene.
The Bone Dam was scripted as a cave with a huge pile of animal bones holding back a pool of water. I introduced high pillars of stalagmites growing up out of the highly reflective dark water creating a very alien landscape.