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The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
This Blog will be offering a colorful kaleidoscope of movie magic for cinema aficionados.
Crispy peanuts, colorful baloons and thrilling sensations on celluloid.
See offbeat goodies and magic crumbs ...weekly!

A key set piece of the visually fascinating epic 'Waterworld' is the ATOLL set.
The free-floating 'monster of steel' was created by conceptual artist Steve Burg, production illustrator 
Stefan Dechant, Art Director David F. Klassen and production designer Dennis Gassner.
What a splendid implementation of a great production design. 
The steel island has the rough charm of a wrecked castle. 
An own small recycling world cobbled together from ocean debris.
The colossal Atoll construction was handled by an enormous crew on location in the harbor of Kawaihae, Hawaii. 
As the Atoll had to be seaworthy for wideangle shots on the ocean, the crew had to consider all possible sea 
conditions and wind maximums. 
The Set was a real tourist attraction in Kawaihae, you will find hundreds of photos in the web. 
The 365 feet in diameter Atoll was built sectional and consisted of 8 interconnected modules.
This helps to keep the 'floating junkyard' flexible on the water. 
The whole thing weighed around 1000 tons!
All the required construction material, mainly steel, came from Hawaii and California.
On the swimming 'castle'  there were different levels for live-action.
As the Atoll was supposed to be in the middle of an endless ocean, DOP Dean Semler could only shoot 
with a clear horizon in the background. 
It was required that the whole platform could be rotated.
Director Kevin Reynolds: 'Our schedule was largely dependent on the turning capabilities of the atoll.'
The Atoll was usually rotated to a new position overnight.
The high-speed Trimaran of the Mariner moored in the Atoll Set.
The Set was enriched with little gadgets and jewelery, like the skeleton on the right side!
The Atoll had a recycling zone, a bar, a desalination plant, a trading post, even a windmill to generate electricity.
Director Kevin Reynolds is climbing around on the set, looking for the right angle.
Setting up a camera platform on a barge for an action scene on the Atoll, a big floating live-action stage.
On various occasions Dean Semler used a Steadycam to balance out the fluctuations caused by the swell.
The Atoll at night.
It was a time-consuming and tricky process to tow the relatively immobile 1000 tons monster into open ocean waters.
The sunlight fades... the Atoll floating offshore at wind force zero.  What a pic, what a set!
Things to come... 
Mariner (Kevin Costner) arrives at the 'Exxon Valdez' Tanker - Paramount water tank.
The pool has been completely covered to navigate the fog bank which was required for the scene.
A thirty feet tall and sixty feet long ship wall set was built in the tank.
Mariner will be climbing up the ship wall. 
The finished movie scene is a composite of the live-action shot, miniature elements and digital wizardry.

On August 25, 1983, a big fire destroyed parts of the Paramount Studio backlot. 
The firestorm swept through the exterior sets and destroyed the New York Street area.
Several soundstage (12,14,15,16) behind the Set were in danger by the fire.
But despite great panic all Stages could be secured and were only slightly damaged.
The Crew of 'Star Trek III: The Search for Spock' was busy with filming on that day.
The Star Trek Set on Stage 15 was only lightly affected (smoke, water,..) and was soon ready for filming again. 
The New York Street was a famous outdoor Set on the Paramount backlot.
Many great movies were shot here, including 'The Godfather' (1972) and 'Chinatown' (1974).
A historical perspective of Paramount's old New York Street Set, destroyed by the fire in August, 1983.

'55 Days at Peking' is a massive epic of the legendary mogul Samuel Bronston.
A colossal set was built in the area of Las Rozas near Madrid, Spain, surrounded by cornfields.
Two Amigos recently, 1962, on the 'Peking' backlot...
U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis (Charlton Heston) and Sir Arthur Robertson (David Niven) take a look at the 
guns from the Bronston Studio Armory Department. 
The german 'Mauser Modell 98', the french 'Lebel 1886', the british Lee-Enfield Mk.I rifle,....
David Niven does not seem to be particularly enthusiastic. 'I really need it?'
Gun Fanatic Heston has no problems, he knows all the handles and tricks.
A critical look of an expert, but the gunsmith did a good job. 
Charlton Heston is pleased with choice and quality.
The British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson (David Niven) exercises the standing at attention.
The Major grins ...and would surely like to fire off a few shots.
Charlton Heston greatly enjoyed working with David Niven on '55 Days at Peking' in Spain.
The two got along very well.
The huge 'Peking' Set was dismantled and the area has been swallowed by the pressure of the expanding 
metropolis Madrid.

Your comments are always welcome!

The Brian G. Hutton (1935–2014) crime thriller 'Sol Madrid' (1967) is available on DVD in the Warner Archive Collection.
The famed Director of 'Where Eagles Dare' and 'Kelly's Heroes' conducts an orchestra of character actors 
and gangsta kickers like Telly Savalas and Rip Torn. Both excellent and in a great mood!
David McCallum is Sol Madrid, an undercover drug special Agent and the leading player of the show.
He tried everything to play his Agent in a deadpan manner, in the hip 'Eastwood' way, but his acting seems helpless and clueless.
'Sol Madrid' is missing vitality and a proper speed, but it still is a quite entertaining mobster movie here and there with 
colorful locations and a great cinematography. 
Fred J. Koenekamp was the Director of Photography and responsible for some pretty nice Acapulco shots.
The photo shows Keonekamp lying in a sand hole on the beach for a low-angle close-up shot of the fighting David McCallum.
Fred J. Koenekamp was born on November 11, 1922 in Los Angeles, California, USA. 
He is known for his work on 'Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), 'Patton' (1970), 'Papillon' (1973), 
'The Towering Inferno' (1974) and 'The Hunter' (1980).
Director Brian G. Hutton is talking with Stella Stevens on Set in Mexico, 1967.
Stella is a looker! She is gorgeous as a hooker and ex-girlfriend of mobster boss Rip Torn.
'Sol Madrid' - A promising package not perfectly staged. 

The superb Illustrator Jack Johnson is known to many through his lovely work on 'The Goonies' (1985).
The retired artist was the production illustrator on 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' (1979), 'Beetlejuice' (1988), 
'The Hunt for Red October' (1990), 'Wolf' (1994) and others.
The photo shows Jack working on an illustration for the heavily underrated 'Congo' (1995).
For the Wolfgang Petersen (Director) movie 'The Perfect Storm' (1999) he did a lot of research to get a good 
feeling for the production...
The Andrea Gail in heavy swell - 'The Perfect Storm' Illustration by Jack Johnson.
Jack drew and painted thumbnail sketches, perspectives and designs for the different sets. 
His illustrations include patterns and ideas for colors, scale and position.
Illustration by Jack Johnson - 'The Perfect Storm'.
A wave has smashed a window - Illustration by Jack Johnson - 'The Perfect Storm'.
Swallowed by a monster wave - Illustration by Jack Johnson.
See George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg riding the gimbals in 'The Perfect Storm'.

The producers of 'The Adventures of Gerard' (1970) hired the Les Bowie boys to built a Castle miniature for the movie. 
They were also responsible to stage and film the desired scenes with the Castle. 
Some cannon fire and the big explosion of the miniature.
This is probably the final job for the old Bowie Sp/Fx Crew on which all the boys worked together for one last time.
A great 'holiday' on Malta with Les, Brian Johnson, Neil Swan, Pat Moore, ...and my dear friend Kit West (1936-2016).
Kit West: "Les Bowie and myself were responsible for the model castle sequence. 
At the end of the movie, the castle is bombarded by cannon fire."
The photo shows special effects technician Neil Swan next to the Castle miniature.
Director Jerzy Skolimowski lensed an ingenious movie with excellent players, a fast rhythm and an absurd sense of humor. 
The film has finally been released in a usable quality in the MGM - Limited Edition Collection.
Peter McEnery (excellent!), Jack Hawkins, John Neville, Claudia Cardinale and Eli Wallach as Napoleon Bonaparte!
Definitely recommended!
The Photo shows Kit West (black shirt, middle), Brian Johnson (open jacket) and maltese crew boys working on the miniature set.
Movie Scene with the Castle miniature, filmed by Kit West on Malta.
Kit West: "We actually built the miniature castle at the Malta Film Facilities 
(today 'MFS' - Mediterranean Film Studios), above the studio water tank, overlooking the sea."
Here we see special effects gardener Brian Johnson as he 'planted' a few miniature shrubs.
Learn more about the Les Bowie boys and Kit West here:

William Hurt is waiting on the Bulevardi Street in Helsinki (Finland) for a scene of the well made 'Soviet cop' 
thriller 'Gorky Park' (1983), directed by Michael Apted. 
The Director, standing behind the camera on the left, staged an entertaining unusual police flick with 
great Players (W.Hurt, Brian Dennehy, Lee Marvin,...) and established Makers (Carl Fullerton did the cadaver makeup,...). 
It's quite exciting to follow Soviet Police Inspector Renko (William Hurt) on his demanding duty, 
the investigation of a crime without any clues.
Three corpses found deeply frozen in the snow with their faces and all fingerprints removed (C.Fullerton).
Location comparison photo - The Bulevardi in Helsinki today.
Finland was playing Russia for the Movie and DOP Ralf D. Bode ('Rocky', 'Dressed to kill') shot some nice 
'russian' locations in Helsinki. 
William Hurt is talking with producer Hawk Koch. Bulevardi Street, Helsinki, 1983.
Michael Apted (middle) directing a scene with William Hurt and Joanna Pacula.
Behind the camera, DOP Ralf D.Bode (1941-2001).
Producer Hawk Koch and Brian Dennehy on the Bulevardi Street in Helsinki, 1983.
The excellent Brian Dennehy ('Rambo', 'Cocoon',...), born 1938, is still very busy and active as an actor.
Director Michael Apted discusses a scene with William Hurt.
Apted was the Director of 'Stardust', 'The Squeeze' and the Pierce Brosnan Bond, 'The World is not Enough'.
Most recently, he was working for TV productions.

'Stirber Visual Network' built a huge miniature of the Los Angeles Beverly Center Mall and the surrounding buildings 
for the effects-heavy disaster epic 'Volcano', 1997.
John Stirber and his crew built the giant 200-foot miniature Set (eighth scale!) on a platfrom in the hangars of Norton Air Force Base.
The Set includes a fictional building, the Beverly Tower, which has been prepared to be blown up and fall for a climactic scene.
The Beverly Tower (see photo) consists of 2 parts, assembled to collapse effectively. 
A yellow concrete Tower with foundation, and a smaller black tower with many glass elements standing on the yellow concrete foundation.
Behind the controlled and smoothly collapse stands an elaborate mechanism built by John Stirber.
A very well-done and realistic scene. Even little things, like ash or dust, look great!
The yellow tube represents the point where the lava geyser erupts (composited into a live-action plate).
Digiscope composited the lava geyser into a Beverly Center live-action plate.
A detailed miniature of the Beverly Center with huge backing cloth.
John K.Stirber (left) supervising the work on the Beverly Center miniature.
The crew visited the real Center and made hundreds of photos to use as reference.
On the right you can see several photos mounted on boards as guidance for the model makers.
John Stirber is an experienced Special Effects and Visual Effects expert.
He worked on 'The Thing' (1982), 'Conan the Destroyer' (1984) and 'Dances with Wolves' (1990).
In the 90s he founded the 'Stirber Visual Network, Inc.' and specialized on Action Miniatures.
His shop built the miniatures for 'Escape from L.A.' (1996), the fishing Trawler and several R/C vehicles for 
'Godzilla' (1998) and staged the subway train miniature sequence in 'End of Days' (1999).
John later worked on 'Serenity' (2005) and built the action miniatures for 'Rambo' (2008).
On 'Dune' John Stirber (right) worked together with physical effects supervisor Kit West (left).
John was the 'master of wires' and let the Baron fly.
Check out this: DUNE.

The Hammer Films sword-and-sorcery adventure 'The Viking Queen' (1967) is a batty little production set in the Roman Britain.
What a scintillating, glorious loopy trash!
Director Don Chaffey got some viable props to play with and a nice bunny for the leading role.
The finnish fashion model Carita Järvinen (photo) plays the pretty Queen.
The movie is in one league with the numerous Italian cucumbers which I cherish.
One should not expect too much, but 'The Viking Queen' is quite well-produced with a few rollicking moments.
Carita Järvinen, born 20 May 1943, in Sipoo, Finland. 
Carita started her modeling career in the late 50s in Finland before she moved to Paris in the 60s, where she worked for 
different famous fashion designer (Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld).
She got a role in a 'Lemmy Caution' movie before she played the celtic Queen in the Hammer trash 'The Viking Queen'.
Carita never continued her acting career ...after that experience!
Queen Salina (Carita) practices some swordplay moves with Actor Donald Houston on the backlot of the Ardmore Studios in Ireland.
Houston has learned a few tricks during the production of 'The 300 Spartans', 1962.
The edged Welsh Actor Donald Daniel Houston (1923-1991) has a long list of interesting productions under his belt.
'Where Eagles Dare', 'The Sea Wolves' and 'Clash of the Titans', just to name a few.
In 'The Viking Queen' Houston plays a Priest of the Druids.
Carita in her sexy costume on Set in the cold, damp climate of the Irish mountains.
Queen Salina shows what she has learned from Coach Houston.
Carita is the only eyecatcher of the Hammer productions, everyone wants a photo.
Queen Salina (Carita Järvinen) during a break in filming 'The Viking Queen' in Ireland, wrapped up in a warm blanket.
Carita relaxes in her caravan. There is not much ... but music!