La Tour Montparnasse Infernale is a french comedy yet to be seen in this
country, although I am reliably informed it reached number one in the
french film charts. At the end of the Movie, the two protaganists (in
the movie) accidentaly fly a helicopter into the famous french railway
station GARE MONTPARNASSE (well, its as Famous as Waterloo Station is
to the Brits) and walk away without so much as a scratch.... oh I'm sorry,
have I spoilt it for you?? The miniatures would be shot at Shepperton
Studios and BILL PEARSON was in charge!
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Ready to turn over
Even though under Bills' supervision, Bill was happy for me to lead the way, with what was basically, a giant architectural model, as I do a lot of Architectural modelmaking inbetween doing film work. Early information described the helicopter exploding, so a 30 foot long , ten foot high, miniature had to be made, so that the scale of the flames did not betray the size of the model, as it was all to be shot 'in camera'. The size of the Helicopter being used also dictated the size of the set too. 'Action man scale' is a term Bill and I often use (I think its about 1:8)so that was the scale of the model. Mostly perspex with a section of real glass in the centre. All the steel work and cables supported the Glass in exactly the same way they do in reality..and seemed like the logical way to construct this. Later information (after the thing was half built) revealed that no fire-ball explosion would be involved and that only the glass would break, meaning this model could have been half this size.
We've all heard the film-makers anecdote about Moses parting the Red Sea (and then closing it again) in Ceciile B DeMilles' epic havn't we?... after all the stuntmen have been washed away, millions of gallons of water dumped onto the stage...... the cameraman shouts down from the gantry "are we ready to roll Mr DeMille??". Well, that's kinda how you feel after a shot like this. You just hope that the shot is in the can and that the model wasn't destroyed in vain. As it happened, the director wanted to 'go again', so I had a couple of days to rebuild the damaged section.
Architectural? For a film?
About 1:100 scale, this view of some Parisian rooftops would be a background plate for some foreground action. Digital cars would be added in post production and the actors would be shot against a blue-screen in the safety of the studio. True team effort. Bill broke this ones back by tracking down some really nice scale building kits and buying a load in. For the majority of buildings we just then chopped and changed the kits to create variety, while Bill custom made some hero ones to break it up.
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