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Episode 119 · 1 month ago

COLLATERAL (2004) with Set Designer Clint Wallace Part Two

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Parth and Trent continue their discussion of Collateral with its set designer, Clint Wallace. They also regale the audience with tales from set.

We are Tonight's entertainment. You can't handle the true the fire Risalsiz, you're a wizard, Harry, you know you think that's air. You're breathing groovy. I don't have friends, Hello, trends, Hello, part This is an unusual format for our program. This is maybe the closest we've ever been for a recording. Look at that we're making. We're we're touching, Our bodies are touching. It's true, you see, Trent, and the reasons for which have brought us to this point is the reason for this recording. And this might sound like the crispas we've ever sounded. Oh, I was worried we might sound worse than usual. You think better. I don't know. Let's look at our how our waves are looking. Well, we can't really see the waves, but I think we can see the levels. Um, Trent and I are on set today. We're on Sarah Brockman, friend of Well she's in the gray space, but um, friend off and off? Wait, friend of and off the show. We're on her set shooting her senior thesis. And that's why the last few weeks have been a little hectic for us, and Trent and I were like Jesus, we really have to record this episode because we said we were going to do it on Monday, and we've been procrastinating and not acknowledging the fact that we neglected to do that. And we have an episode do like tomorrow night or tomorrow morning. Actually, um, and I'm anyways, so I'm I I had set to Trent. Wait, we have the sound equipment? Should we record the intro right here with um this road microphone that we have and UM, just sort of get that done so we don't have to worry about that tonight tonight. So Part is holding a boompole and swiveling it back and forth between our mouths as we sit on the foot of the bed in my child's childhood bed, part's childhood. Trent, Well, you don't, you don't know what happened, confusing and my childhood bed wore sarahs filming her movie about loss and ghosts. Yeah, I mean it'll be out next next next year May. But Trent, I'm just wondering what you've been eating. Um. We actually set Set Life, Am I right? Am? I right? So a set launch um as an extension of Set Life, and um, we got comped free lunch from a restaurant that I recommended because I used to work there, Paradidal Griddle in Red Bank, and j very good. When we looked at the menu after the menu sent out to everyone, I looked at it familiar with what their prices used to be, and now their prices are much more inflated, so a rap went from like eleven dollars to like fifteen dollars. Would you say it's no bueno the price increase, I mean all price increases. I'm not blaming le Andrew A Batista, the owner and operator of the business and my former boss. So I think it's a great man and I...

...think you should shop there um if possible. But I was just shocked at the state of the economy when it was thrown in my face like that. But what I did have, thanks for asking a buffalo chicken kasada, added tomatoes and lettuce and onions, got some ranch dipping sauce on the side. You know, I kind of made fun of um Trent for the additives he had on his order and said and like and said just said on the side in reference to Sally from One Hair Met Sally, Oh, I thought you were just referencing that I asked a ranch on the side. But you're saying all of my customizations make me high maintenance. You're the worst kind. You're you're you're high maintenance. Who thinks they're low maintenance? No, no, that's true. But also I used to work there, so I just like, know how I like it, and I used to get the dinner you know how you like it? Um. Anyways, I had a Trent. You had a buffalo Dia. Yeah. Yeah, they abbreviate casada to dia, which is infuriating as you can imagine. I had a barb cue that a della. No, it's not culturally appropriate. Anyways, it was really good. I quite liked it. Have you ever had handsel and grittle? And there's anseling girdle, although it's called something else now, but it's like the same thing. And Bridgewater or in Summerville bid Alex Lane we were in the car and talking about this, and I explained the whole oral history about the relationship between the mother handseling Grittele and New Brunswick and how that handsling griddle told the child handsling griddles. The two other locations in summer Villain Redbank, but they couldn't be handling Gridles anymore, and so now they both had to change their name. Just and menused to be slightly different, but not different enough to have to make them restructure their entire business. The same thing happened with us. Yeah, lightning strikes twice. But what um, we should we should cue the interest? Okay, yeah, no, guys, we we just worked for nine hours. Yeah, I'm excited to wrap. All right, let's let's cue the intro. Welcome back to Crest Services, where we talk about the movies. Each week we talk about a film and hopefuly up remember that film to talk about their experience working on the picture. This week we are talking with Clint Wallace, set designer. Clint Wallace. We have to apologize. Last episode, part one of our interview with Clinton Wallace, we incorrectly called him a set decorator. But he's so much more than that. Yes, he's a set designer. That was just a slip of the tongue. We think the world of Clint Wallace and his affiliate. Last week we were recovering from the effects of my set in My Senior Pieces episode quality may have really taken a detrimental hit given the amount of attention we're putting into other areas of our lives. But the guest quality has never been higher.

Um. And that that continues, that continues in Clinton. For which movie, Uh, this movie that we're talking about now is gonna be um, Michael Man's collateral. Very nice. And it's a continuing segment in our series Cruise of Peloser where recover the films three films uncharacteristic Tom Cruise films. Yeah, War of the World is pretty characteristic, but I guess that's the only one. Um. But anyways, without further ado, here's that interview. You spoke a little bit about how you don't know how it set looks until you kind of look through the lens. And this is a movie I think that was like one of the first movie, major motion pictures to make use of digital cinematography as much as it does. And I was wondering if that, you know, affected your process us at all, um, again, because it was early in my career. I was just that designer, you know, not so much for me, um, but it was you know, I think the probably the the biggest trick, you know, and shooting a night in particular in exteriors is dealing with light and and how are you how are you getting the light that you want and what do you need? So that's largely you know, that's the gaffer in the DP uh that that are responsible for that with the production designer, you know, of course influencing, you know, like you know, the usual processes will come up with the concept, the concept design and everybody signs off on it, and then that gives lighting, uh, you know, something to shoot for, so they're not you know, making it up on the spot. So Part informed me this morning, and hopefully this is true, that Tom Cruise was using live rounds uh or live ammunition while on the set of this Did you witness that? Is that? Is that urban legend? Uh? Thoughts? I never heard. I never heard that. I don't think that's true. I think the he did train with live rounds. That's what it is that I misinformed. I was gonna say that this is too good to be true. All right, Part you have to ask the next question since you gave me false information that that's my bad, I guess. Kind of getting into the third act um the whole sequence where Cruise is chasing Jada Pickett Smith in the building. UM, and I guess by extension the parking deck that you kind of see through, Like that whole location seems very specific. Um, can you talk about working on that. Yeah, what's interesting about that is that, um, you know, that's what's interesting about Michaels. You know,...

...he's a hyper perfectionist, but he also can pivot pretty quickly. So it was scripted that the final battle happened on the rooftop that they want to to the roof of that building, you know, after he um, you know, I was chasing Jada, you know, through that building and then they have their big final you know, finale in the rooftop. And I believe it was a mixture of both story and logistical issues of shooting on the shooting on the roof, and so we switched it instead of going up to go down to the subway, and so we we built that subway carum, which was you know, some on location, but someone's on stage for you know, a fight. So that was that was that was a build on stage, But the building itself was a building, you know, an abandoned floor and dressed you know, um uh, you know, sort of dressed in cam and it was so dark, and um, it's it's a set I was not directly involved with. So UM, I can't talk too much about the specifics of that, but you know, I believe that was a whole location. I don't think we did any of that on stage, but when we did do we did do the final battle in the in the subway on stage. Yeah, that was going to be My next question is, like, I think it looks great. I was was difficult for me to tell what was stage and what was real with the subway. And I can't really imagine it not ending on the subway. So it's interesting to hear that that wasn't originally how it was supposed to end. UM. So if there's any sort of knowledge you have on like making the set for um the subway, UM, yeah it was. It was you know, again pretty straightforward recreating you know, a subway car that that had be friendly to camera. Uh. You know that you can move a came around. That's you know, always the problem was shooting on location is is you can't put a camera or you want it. You can't put lights where you want to, UM. So you know, and so often, UM, so much of the time there's so many restrictions on a location. So often what happens is you scout with the director and you fall in love with the location, like this happened on on Top Gun. We you know, we scouted Um, We scouted the bar, famous UM bar in California on the beach, and were hard we're gonna shoot the hard deck. Yeah, we're going to shoot there, and you know, we thought it worked for the scene, and but in negotiations, and this is happened multiple times in my career, bars are...

...impossible because you you have to shut down their business. So they wanted a million dollars for us to shoot there because it was peak summer and they're losing revenue and customers. So that's when we ended up building the whole hard deck down at ns North Island on the beach, which was really cool. Um where you know, all that took place right there on the beach. And now I think they're they're they're re they're making it a permanent build somewhere else on the lot there, but it's still down there. So anyway back to the subway, that that's that's why we built the subway because it's just you know, for lighting for practical reasons. Uh, that's why you need to do it. So speaking of Top Gun and speaking of Tom Cruise, Uh, we're covering Collateral as part of our cruise of Palooza. So we're doing uncharacteristic Tom Cruise movies. Um, okay, part what the what are the other two were doing? We're doing War of the World and Magnolia Cool. So we were wondering if you had any close encounters with Tom Cruise, the manor himself. We've gotten a lot of good Tom Cruise anecdotes over the years because he seems to weave a little bit of an imprint on every crew member. Yes, yes, yes he does. Um, yeah, definitely. I did have interactions on on Top Gun. You know one story that's um been I think now well known, Uh is is the scene where Ed Harris is where the dark Star flies over Ed Harris and the roof comes off the building right next to it, And that was never meant to happen. So so the day before Tom was on set with us and he was like, guys, guys, that that's Tom's thing. He always says, guys, guys, guys, are you sure this is strong enough? And we we kind of blew them off a little bit, like, yes, Tom, it's gonna be fine. We built things very strong, it's not a problem. And sure enough on the day. The trick was is, you know, they started off so we had the blue Angels. So the way that was shot is we had the blue Angels flying for real, which then VFX replaced with the dark star. So they started dropping lower and lower and lower until they came, you know, about ten ft above the ground, coming over the top, and then they'd go vertical and then you had that all that blowback you know from the from that. So on one of those shots, that's when the roof um you know, pulled off and everybody freaked out and they like, you know, it was a big thing. But then of course it became a feature and it was actually enhanced in visual effects. They made it pop up even more than it actually did. So the the...

...funny takeaway there with Tom is you know Tom's been at it for forty plus years. You know, he's he's been in film, so he's a very smart, savvy, uh, you know, a filmmaker, and like he knows what every department does and has a real awareness. You know, when we were talking about the schedule on Top Gun, you like quickly identified like knowing, you know, this is too long a day, this is never gonna work, like we're never going to be able to get this done and then do this and um, you know, lots of um, you know, just just sort of lots of knowledge. Like I was, I was presenting to Tom the sequence when he's chased in the snow and jumps over the log and is being strafed by by the helicopter and you know, we're showing him to log and how the you know, scripts were going to go, and and then he was kind of laying out the shot. He's like, Okay, I'm gonna do one, run clean, I'm gonna do run one, you know, when we're doing the scripts, you know, in the snow, and then we're gonna do another, you know, because he understands what visual effects needs. He understands, you know, the process so well. So he's you know, very so. So the moral of the story is Tom is always right. I mean, I guess this kind of segues us into unless Trent, you have any more collateral questions. I was gonna ask about Top Gun, Maverick, and like, what you're working experience, and that was like, um, just you know, Trent and I are both big Maverick fans, and we interviewed the editor, Edie. I heard, I heard that Eddie's he's quite a character. He's he's a good guy. Yeah. Um, so what was what was working on that movie? Like? It was probably one of my top you know in film. You know, sometimes you work on a on a big successful movie, but the process of making the movie isn't that fun and vice versa. You know, Uh, you know something that was a lot of fun is a bomb. So um yeah, luckily this one. It it kind of worked both ways that it was. It was one of my more fun projects that um, you know, I think I've done in my career, and it just was sort of lucky that it's got the reception that it has and it you know, it turned out so well. Um, you know for us, you know, one really cool part was working with the Navy and just working with all the fighter pilots. Um. Uh. That was a cool experience because they would geek out, you know on us with top gun and everything, and then we would geek out on them with you know, looking at the jets, the F eighteens, and and you know, we'd we'd spent a lot of time with them. Some of the sequences in the hard Deck came up about partially because we'd be drinking in the bar with those with those pilots,...

...and you know, the the whole thing with a cell phone on the bar. That's a real rule in the Navy. And there's this famous bar where we shot down at ans North Island which is in San Diego and Coronado, um, and so we we kind of incorporated that. I don't believe that was in the original script, but now you know, being there that and it happened to our location manager at least twice where he put his cell phone on the bar and then if you hit the planes that are above head, that are hanging over, then you have to buy a drink for everybody in the bar, or you put his cell phone in the bar. And I think he did it at least twice where put it the cell phone and hit the planes in the same motion had to buy two drinks or everybody in the bar. So um, yeah, that was really cool working with the Navy. You know the Navy. You know the joke with first top gun is it was such a big recruitment effort for both the Navy and the Air Force. Like enrollment went up radically. So and the first one, the Navy wasn't that um cooperative like they were ultimately, but this one they were much more involved. So we we had a Navy guy embedded in our department that was with us kind of all on the way, and at times we butt heads because you know, the US military doesn't operate at the same time scale that movies do, and so to get things approved and through the process could be challenging. Um, but it was still you know, really cool working with those guys and um, you know, so you know so much of it, you know, building the Dark Star was a whole really cool process in itself. We partnered with Skunk Works, which is famous where the s R. Seventy one and so that's somewhat what this is based on. Where they do top secret um you know aircraft up in uh central California in the desert near Palmdale. So we ended up working a deal with them where they built that, you know, full scale. They built the whole plane, the Dark Star. We had, you know, we designed a great plane designer Daniel Simon, working with Joe came up with that and Jeremy handle that production design. Um, but that was really fun working with those guys and building that and um that whole that whole process. While doing research on Maverick, I found out that the Dark Star was so realistic that China turned around to satellite because they thought it was a real UM aircraft. So I guess, like, that's cool you full China. Yes, Tom loved that...

...story. Yes, now, he loved that. And it's true because where we were shooting is this really high security, top secret. It's where they develop all these kind of planes. So they're well aware of, you know, what China and Russia are doing with their satellites. So they saw that they had identified you know, when you roll we rolled the Dark Star out of the hangar that, yes, that they had identified. Like, oh shit, what's the US building? Now, what's Tom Cruise doing? Yeah, you mentioned um a little bit of a transition, But you mentioned another very exacting director, and that's working with David Fincher on Benjamin Button and uh part like a nerd out about Tom Cruise, and I like to nerd out about David Fincher. So any and all information we'd love to hear. Um. Yeah, I mean, yeah, David is definitely exact exacting. But you know, my experiences with him, we're all good. I mean, he's kind of I think he's changed stylistically over the years, like on on Benjamin Button, because you know, he comes out of I l M and so he was he was very precise. Like there was this one shot I did the scene with the clock the clock tower, and um, I remember David specifically sitting with me and being like, you know, on on my computer, like, Okay, I want the camera right here, tell me the distance where the camera is. This is the shot I want. And then sure enough, like he marked it out on set, but the camera exactly you know where it was. So um, now I think he's a little bit looser, Like, you know, it's pretty rare for directors to do that. Most of the time. You know, they have ideas about how they're going to shoot the set, and but a lot of times unless it's a very heavily um previoust or storyboarded sequence that on the day, you know, you never know exactly where the camera's going to go. So at least back then, David was very specific about the whole pre production and planning out his shots and and doing that. But I think he's loosening up. Yeah. I I got my start. My first project that I got into the Union was a Finchure project. It was he never ended up doing it. It was Lords of Dogtown. Yes, yeah, I was gonna ask about that saw that when your IMDb I was curious. Yeah. Yeah. So he ended up giving it up because basically they didn't want to spend enough money. And David's like fine, okay, And so Catherine Hardwit and then woman made Zodiac Yeah yeah um but um. And then you know, I...

...did a couple of other projects that with David that didn't go through. We we were doing um, we were doing the version of uh Jules for Leagues under the Sea Captain Nemo with Brad Pitt was attached and that went fairly far um um, but it was going to be in Australian. Then for whatever whatever reason, he pulled the plug. How early in pre production are you usually brought on you know if that you know some of these big movies, you know, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Um, you know, I was on that for two years, uh and we were you know, that's you know, probably eight six to eight months ahead, so you know, big movies like that, you know, that's that's that's different. But um, you know, I'm doing a movie now in Bulgaria, Red Sonia, which is a full fantasy film, creating a whole world, the whole environment, and we've had thirteen weeks of prep to do it, and so it's been a real like you know, rush too, because it's it's full world building, creating a language from scratch and symbols and gods and uh so that's that's been a real interesting challenge. But yeah, the yeah, the bigger, big Marvel movies, UM, you know, there's quite a bit of prep. But um, you know, I got involved for the last two years with doing uh the additional photography of production designing for um the last six Marvel projects, from Black Widow all the way up to two Strange and and there's not a lot of prep for those, but they're often significant builds. Um like on Strange that was a fifty day shoot, which is almost the same that I'm of the movie you know that I'm doing right now. We're fifty five days. That was a fifty day reshoot on Strange, So it was. It was massive and we had very limited time uh and had a lot of reconcepting to do. Uh, but it was that was a fun one. That that was That was a cool one. Yeah, I was actually gonna ask. I'm a huge Sam Rami fan and you kind of mentioned it previously, and we've had a lot of people on that have said that he's like the nicest guy and really fun to work with and would you concur I guess yeah, absolutely, He's got a he's got a wicked sense of humor and he's definitely a funny a funny guy and he will bust your balls and um uh, but also very um collaborative, you know, very which...

...you kind of appreciate those filmmakers that you know, he's been around for a while and he's like, you know, you're the production designer, give me some ideas and you know it's okay if it goes you know sunence it's the other way, you know, the director has a very specific vision and says this is what I want this set to look like, this is my idea. But Sam is much more open, like, show me something, and so he kind of, I think trust the process, which is you know, which is nice awesome. Um. So, like the last movie that we wanted to ask about which you were a set designer on was John Wick Chapter three. Um, if there's any stories you can have from that, because we are both fans of the Wick branchise, Yeah, that one. Yeah, I just came on in a specific role to do basically Chad Um. I mean we kind of joked, but he pretty much wanted to do. So what I did is the all the glass set, that the glass building, that that whole thing, and and and so our joke was that Chad wanted to do the biggest glass set ever done in the history of cinema, which I think it is. Um and so UM, we spent a lot of time on that. We we put it in VR. You know, we we had a couple like VR special guys to previous the thing. Um. And what's interesting about that process is is with Chad um, you know, coming from stunts that it's really stunt driven. Like. So, so we had the VR, we have the set in VR, and we had the stunt guys kind of helping drive the design of the set, which is pretty rare. Like usually you work with stunts, but they are usually during the process so there they were like we were building the set around the stunts, you know kind of. But one thing about that set is like it freaked people out because it was you know, people couldn't walk on it because it was you know, all glass floors, all glass walls, all glass everything. So it was if you have an issue with heights, it was you know, a bit disconcerting. So they had to like cover the floor when they weren't shooting it, and so people felt comfortable walking on it. Part do you think it's time for the big Cahuna final question? I think it's we're approaching the Cahuna o'clock. Yeah, okay, So the big Ahuna final question is what is the last great, not good film that you watched that you had little or nothing to do with creatively? Um so because...

...of the production I'm on now, um, we've been Gladiator was a big influence. So like we've been studying that a bit and a lot of the same beats and a lot of reference we're using. So that's been one that's been good to delve back into. And you know, Joaquin's performance is so great as in that and um, yeah that you know, we we're just shooting a sequence on red Sonia with this burning forest where we had to build a huge burning forest and uh we found out that, We're like, how did Ridley get to burn this massive forests in that movie? We found out, well that the English government said, we're going to tear this down anyway. You have free reign, you can do whatever you want. So, um, we're like, well that would have been nice to have. How how did you go about burning your forest if you didn't have the same permission we built it. We built it so we had a poor big you know, get trees, real trees, but then you had to reassemble and branch by branch and pour them in big concrete footings and run gas lines for fire and build build a forest. Yeah, for people to run through that are all on fire at night and all this is it meant to be reburned like time and time again? Yeah, yeah, like would actually thick wood doesn't burn like it takes a long time to burn down, and they host it down. So yeah, we we shot for like seven nights and it stood up pretty well. Um, but um yeah, sorry. And then the other one I was just watching and I know this is a little more low brow, but was Stranger Things, which which I think is great. Uh. And the new season, Yeah, the new season. You know, it's amazing to me that the Duffer brothers are you know, didn't grow up in the eighties, because that's my era. Like I think this last year was six and that was when I graduated high school, and they really nailed the specifics of that. You know, it really brings you back to that, to that world. Definitely, Um, fun fun for me, cool, awesome, how part you want do you want to bring us out? Yeah? Thank you so much, Clinton Wallace for coming on to the show. Um. He worked on such films as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, john Wick Chapter three, Parabellum, topp In Maverick, and our film but today Michael Mann's Collateral. Again, thank you so much. Thank you guys. What a great interview, Trent. I couldn't agree more. Thank...

...you to Clint Wallace, set designer, not decorated. I hope you all at home learned something. And if you didn't, thank you, Yeah, fuck you for listening to our podcast. No, but like if you actually made it all the way here, thanks congratulations and thank you're one of three four people I mean the analytics don't tell us someone who will listen to the end. But I'm kind of relieved that they don't know. It's more than three or four, right, I would assume we have one YouTube. There's a statistic and it says how the average time through your videos that people leave, and it's really discouraging. So I'm glad that we don't have that. All Right, it's time to end this. It's time to end we okay right yeah, okay, well not just because like if people don't stay till the end, we'll just make the end come as quickly as possible. Oh, we should just make our episodes like ten seconds long. Um um okay, so the thank you for listening again? Um? So liken somebe we don't have us out on Stitcher, the most important one Spotify, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Auto, Amazon, whatever, Pandora. We're all in all of it. Um go check us out on Instagram and Twitter. Are to social media's u and five star reviews. Yeah, and join us next week for our discussion of Collateral and we will actually have time to talk it together. Yeah. Um, and tell your friends about the show. It really does help. That would be nice. Um yep, next week Collateral, Tom Cruise, Michael Man, and hopefully hopefully we'll both have our mikes next episode. Maybe Trent and I engaged in some activity post hard activity by.

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