Artem Case Studies
The Foreigner Foreigner Productions LTD
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan & Katie Leung
Synopsis: Jackie Chan seeks revenge after his family is killed by an IRA terrorist attack, as the police do nothing to stop it.
Artem were asked to provide the Special Effects for this dynamic and fast paced action film.
The effects ranged from Improvised weapons and explosives to blowing up an iconic London bus on Lambeth Bridge as well as soft props, breakaway items and an assortment of realistic wounds and prosthetics worn by the actors and extras.
As some of the explosive action takes place on the streets of London, we made sure those sequences were extensively tested at our West London workshops. The tests ensured that the size and shape of the explosion was correct and that all the stunt performers, crew and extras were safe as well as making sure that no property or structures were damaged when the sequences were filmed.
Our Floor Supervisor Matt Loader and a small team was responsible for the Floor Effects, atmospherics and the day to day Bullet hits, sparks and special props while a workshop team worked on making the soft rocks, logs, trees and a wooden spiked trap that were needed for specific fight scenes as well as the bomb making material, and a laptop computer with a built in bomb. They also made improvised bows and arrows that fired arrows accurately up to 15m. Another team constructed an airport gangway in miniature as we were unable to blow up a real one at the airport location – We filmed this sequence in our carpark as an element!
Our Pyrotechnic supervisor Toby Stewart had responsibility for the spectacular and dynamic explosive sequences – from the first startling explosion on a Knightsbridge Street to the final explosion at the airport each explosion presented a challenge for Toby and his team.
The explosion in Knightsbridge revolved around a motorbike bike that exploded, cars being blown out of the way and all the glass in the nearby buildings to blow out. This was achieved by constructing a motor bike that “fell” apart, cars that were rigged to “bounce” one end and the glass in the buildings blown out with small explosive charges and compressed air. The spectacular fireballs were a “dry fuel mix” which completely ignites and leaves very little unpleasant residue. For continuity we used smoke machines, firebars and fired balsa wood and silicon glass which could be retrieved easily. Five amputee performers playing pedestrians and bystanders were provided with fake limbs with shattered bones ,torn flesh and burns that were created by our Prosthetic Specialist Emily Pooley and her team from life casts taken at Artem.
Blowing up a full size bus on Lambeth Bridge was another challenge that Toby and his team had to overcome. Not only did the bus have to be driving across the bridge, and filled with passengers when it exploded, no part of Lambeth Bridge could be damaged and no debris or fuel residue could be deposited in the Thames or left on the bridge – the bridge could only be closed for four hours and since only 40 minutes was allocated for the explosion good planning was essential.
The vehicle department provided us with two London buses and our Engineering lead Nathan Chidgey and his team completely stripped one bus of all combustible material, removed all the fire suppression and safety override systems so the bus could still be driven safely before and after the explosion, and then cut the top deck into the pieces that needed to be “torn away”. He installed a robust steel frame inside the bus to support the array of steel mortars Toby used to direct the fireballs, and make sure any stunt performers and crew on the bus would be safe. Steel cables were used to restrain all the pieces that were meant to blow off and ensured that no piece of the bus could travel further than intended. Toby loaded the bus with “Dry Fuel” fireballs and “soft pushers” ending up with over 200 separate explosive charges. He used our Galaxsis wireless firing system for all the explosions and shootouts as it is very stable and reliable, with no trailing wires and the 100 channel receivers can be tucked away anywhere.
We carried out a full scale test in our carpark with all Heads of Department which gave everyone a chance to see the size and impact of the planned explosion. We then transferred everything into the second bus and completed the shot on the bridge. Dummies were used where it was dangerous for passengers to have been and the bus was packed with stunt performers who staggered out of the bus with appropriate wounds.
The last large explosion was blowing up a barn attached to a farmhouse. The prep time for this was very short and the house and prestige cars parked nearby were not to be damaged. Toby and his crew only had access to rig on the day of a night shoot. They weakened the timber structure and loaded steel mortars with “Dry Fuel Fireballs”, and were ready for filming when the Unit started work that night.
The Pyrotechnic team concluded with two studio sequences involving close proximity explosives -
Jackie Chan’s character Quan sets off an improvised explosive in a toilet – again using the” Dry Fuel fireball” and compressed air which blew the weakened set apart
An energetic shootout and a breaching charge in the “safe house”, where we constructed a false floor and realistic pyrotechnic shaped charge which behaved exactly like a real one. We rigged the house set with bullet hits and used capsule guns where we could.
- Pyrotechnics & Fire