The Dark Knight Rises Starts Filming in Pittsburgh

The Dark Knight Rises began filming in Pittsburgh this week.

Director Christopher Nolan, star Christian Bale and producer Emma Thomas recently spoke at a press conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Film Office.

After words from the director of the film office and governor of Pennsylvania, Nolan mentioned that he was drawn to the “unique architecture” of the city and that it will be “somewhat disrupted” within the story of the film.

Bale also made a joke about wearing the rubber batsuit in the hot weather despite the fake snow being used for some scenes and that they’ll be “fighting on the streets”, which suggests large outdoor action scenes.

Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) used a mixture of British and US locations, with Chicago being transformed into a memorable Gotham City, especially in the second film.

I’m not sure whether the reason for switching to Pittsburgh was financial (better tax breaks), artistic (maybe the look of the city was more suited to this film) or a mixture of both.

In honour of the Batman crew arriving in town, the Batman logo was projected on to the city skyline a few nights ago.

This news report shows that filming is going on in a residential street of the city:

They show the fake snow and the IMAX cameras that the film is being shot on: after filming most of the action sequences in The Dark Knight on the IMAX format, DP Wally Pfister has said he wants to shoot as much as possible in the larger, highest resolution format.

By the way, this is what that house looks like on Google Street View:

It seems odd that they are filming a massive blockbuster on what seems to be a small residential street, but perhaps Nolan wanted the raw feel of an actual location, rather than just duplicate buildings on a large soundstage.

This CBS Pittsburgh report shows a bit more background, including how the production has paid for local residents to take their dogs away for a day (in case they bark during filming) and how a particular house has been completely taken over.

Footage has also surfaced of three Batmobiles, painted in the camoflage colours we saw in Batman Begins.

There are also reports that the film is going to shoot a sequence at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which holds 65,000 people.

On the Steelers official website there is this announcement:

Steelers fans can see the filming of “The Dark Knight Rises,” in person as the movie will be shot in Pittsburgh and is looking for fans to be a part of a stadium crowd. The movie is looking for fans to fill a stadium in the Pittsburgh area on Saturday, August 6. The one-day filming runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to anyone 14-years old and up. Anyone under 18-years old must be accompanied by an adult. Fans will be asked to bring the same energy they do to Steelers games as they cheer on the Gotham Rogues in a football game against their rival the Rapid City Monuments.

In recent movies involving large stadium crowds, such as Invictus (2009), the trend was to use visual effects to fill out the ground, but it seems like Nolan and his team want to create the live action atmosphere of a real game.

One theory about the new film is that there is a strong connection with the first Nolan Batman film.

If you’ve seen the recent teaser trailer, the scene with Gordon (Gary Oldman) in a hospital bed suggests that Bruce Wayne reneged on the deal they struck at the end of The Dark Knight.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the evil that Gordon talks of is something to do with Bane (Tom Hardy) and my guess is that for the new film Batman has to begin all over again.

Not only does Gotham presuambly blame him for the death of Harvey Dent, but I suspect that Nolan wants to bring things full circle with the first film so that the franchise has a neat resolution (I think he has decided that this will definitely be his last).

We shall find out what happens when the film opens next July, but it is interesting to see that they are utilising the exterior locations of an American city.

Part of what has made the franchise work so well is the mixture of fantastical subject matter within a believable, urban world.

It seems that Pittsburgh is going to provide another side to Nolan’s Gotham.

> Official site for The Dark Knight Rises
> Find out more about Pittsburgh at Wikipedia
> Facebook page for The Dark Knight Rises
> Batman News

I Am I and Kickstarter

I Am I is one of many independent film projects that have used the website Kickstarter to raise funds.

Launched in April 2009, the New York based site allows people to fund creative projects from a wide range of areas, including independent films, music and technology.

Bypassing traditional models of investment (like movie studios or super-rich uncles looking for a tax write off) it allows a people to announce projects and then set a funding target by a certain deadline.

Amongst the movie-related projects that have successfully raised funds using Kickstarter include:

I Am I had a funding goal of $100,000 and managed to meet it on January 8th, raising $111,965.

But how do film projects like this stick out on a site like Kickstarter?

The filmmakers came up with quite an inventive video to pitch their film:

You can keep tabs on the production at their official site and via Jocelyn Towne on Twitter.

Other film projects currently raising funds via Kickstarter are:

> I Am I
> Kickstarter

Peter Jackson’s First Video Diary for The Hobbit

Filming has got started on The Hobbit and director Peter Jackson has released the first video diary from the set.

The Lord of the Rings prequel follows the early adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and will be released in two parts, with some of the old characters returning.

Jackson introduces us to the set, some pre-production meetings (with key art-work blurred out) and the first day of filming which involves the blessing of the soundstage in Wellington.

With the original trilogy and King Kong Jackson bucked the tradition of secrecy that some studios have had over their productions by being quite open with the fans via video journals.

It was a smart move as increased excitement and expectation for the films.

He announced earlier this week on his Facebook page that he would should the film in 48fps (see here for a video explanation by SFX maestro Douglas Trumbull) and in 3D using Red Digital cameras.

We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920′s). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we’ve all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or “strobe.” Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D.

After all the pre-production difficulties, which involved various delays and Guillermo Del Toro leaving the project, Jackson must be relieved to finally start shooting.

The Hobbit Part 1 is scheduled for release in 2012 with Part 2 to follow in 2013

> More on The Hobbit films at Wikipedia
> Peter Jackson’s official Facebook page

First images from Spielberg’s Tintin

Empire have posted the first images from the upcoming Tintin film directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn is based on three of the stories by Hergé: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure.

The story involves Tintin’s (Jamie Bell) first encounter with Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and a treasure hunt which involves an escaped prisoner, as well as Detectives Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost).

A longtime Tintin fan, Spielberg filmed using motion capture 3-D cameras and the film is currently scheduled for release in late 2011.

> Empire’s Tintin page
> IMDb entry