We are half way through the shoot. This week we shot all the scenes of the boys in 'the cage', all 62 of them! We built a set that was the exact dimensions to what the real cage was, it's such a small space that Todd and Brant had to endured for over two weeks. All the news reports at the time, depicted the cage more like a prison cell size, or a least a space they could sit up and casually sit back in. But it was more like a coffin sized space that two big guys could just fit in, when lying down. They could not straighten out, nor sit up, and had the constant threat of thousands of tons of rocks hanging just centimetres above. I think it was Brant who described the situation as similar to having someone point a loaded gun at you for two weeks. Never knowing when or if they might pull the trigger. I had my mind set to build our cage exactly how the real one was, or as close to as possible. And even though we could remove walls and the roof etc to assist us with shooting it was still a really tight fit. It was built on quite a complex rig that could be shaken, jacked up and dropped. It was like this living thing, a bit like a theme park ride. The real Todd Russell dropped onto set and gave us the thumbs up, which is good enough for me. He joked earlier that we was going to get into the cage, but after he had a good look around it, I suspect that he didnt need to re-live the experience even if in the realms of make-believe.
Above: The Cage
We have been shooting between 10-13 scenes a day and I think we got up to up to 13 minutes of screen time on one day. I thought shooting in such a restricted space would reduce time, but because it was so small and there were so many special physical effects (rock falls, dust, water, 'seismic' activity, blasting etc) everything took much more time than I expected. But we got most of what we needed in the end. I hope we have captured some of the true horror of what it would be like to be trapped and buried alive a kilometre under ground.
Despite the long hours and the pressures of the schedule, I'm really enjoying myself. Fingers crossed the good experience continues for the next 2 weeks!
Lachy and Shane Jacobson (below, who plays Brant) are doing a great job as Todd and Brant. I've been so impressed with their approach to the characters and their performances. It was hard to shoot the scenes when they actually left 'the cage' I wish I could have spent another day or two with them on that set!
We are heading to shoot in a working gold mine this week for five days. A very cool but remote location about four hours drive from Melbourne.