Collider is excited to exclusively present the extensive, in-depth, and insightful production journal of Blade Runner 2049 producer Cynthia Yorkin. What follows below is a journal written by Yorkin detailing her experience making the ambitious Blade Runner sequel, presented in full. Enjoy.
The following is a journal, or a ‘diary’ of sorts, reflecting my thoughts, observations, and experiences during the production of, and press events attendant to, Blade Runner 2049. The road to making this film was long and often arduous, but also thrilling, wonderful and one of the most exciting, and gratifying experiences of my life.
LIST OF PLAYERS
- Andrew Kosove Alcon Co-President & Co-CEO, Producer
- Broderick Johnson Alcon Co-President & Co-CEO, Producer
- Bud Yorkin Producer
- Ridley Scott Executive Producer
- Frank Giustra Executive Producer
- Tim Gamble Executive Producer
- Bill Carraro Executive Producer
- Don Sparks Associate Producer
- Denis Villeneuve Director
- Tanya LaPointe Assistant to Denis Villeneuve
- Roger Deakins Cinematographer
- James Deakins Roger Deakins wife & assistant
- John Nelson Visual Effects Supervisor
- Douglas Trumbull Special Photographer Effects Supervisor on Original BR
- Michael Green Screenplay By
- Dennis Gassner Production Designer
- Dana Belcastro Co-Producer
- Paul Docherty Visual Effects Coordinator
- Francine Maisler Casting
- Doug Harlocker Property Master
- Renee April Costume Designer
- Carl Rogers Development Executive at Alcon
- Ryann Fraser Assistant to Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson
- Ryan Gosling K
- Harrison Ford Rick Deckard
- Ana de Armas Joi
- Robin Wright Lieutenant Joshi
- Sylvia Hoeks Luv
- Chloe Bruce Sylvia Hoeks Stunt Double
- Jared Leto Niander Wallace
- McKenzie Davis Mariette
- Carla Juri Dr. Ana Stelline
- Rachel Sean Young
- Hiam Abass Freysa
- Dave Bautista Sapper Morton
- Barkhad Abdi Doc Badger
- Wood Harris Nandez
- Ben Johnson Elvis Impersonator
- Jessica Yorkin – my daughter
- Michael Yorkin – my son
Friday, March 10
In Montreal, cold and storming, with Andrew, Broderick, Bill, Dana, John Nelson, Dennis, Roger Deakins, Paul, Don, and Denis to visit several CGI houses and review their work. Fascinating and diverse. John explained that he likes to use several houses, which makes sense as there will be a lot to do on this film in a short period of time.
Friday, April 10
Flew to Budapest with Andrew and Broderick to meet with the team for location scouting, including Denis, Bill C., Roger, Dennis, and Dana.
These are a few practical locations we are considering:
- Kelenfold Boiler Room – Bibi’s Bar
- Inota Power Plant – Orphanage boiler room
- Old TV Building – Casino
- Szalay Street Corner Building – K’s exterior and snow blower street
- Balaton Street – K’s exterior and snow blower street
- Tin Factory “Pyramids” – Abandoned basement
- Vas School – K’s apartment staircase option
We also held several production meetings to discuss budget, sets, shooting schedule, casting, and writing. We are currently waiting on new pages from screenwriter Michael Green.
Friday, June 24
So much is happening, we are in pre-production meetings daily while sets are being built. The costumes are fabulous! The props are incredibly original. I’m in awe of what is being accomplished, the miniature work is happening in New Zealand, Spinner work is being done in England. We just made visits to the final exterior locations and saw the final designs from Dennis and Paul showing us the latest CGI and special effects. We are making many decisions, all at once, and it’s exciting to see all the parts coming together.
Developing this project and getting into the details of the story has been so exciting. To sit in a room with Hampton, who is so brilliant and creative and in sync with this material, along with Carl and Andrew and Broderick and Michael Green has been more thrilling and intellectually stimulating then I could have imagined.
Hampton has such a deep intimate history with the material and he sees the story so clearly.
Looked at Francine’s casting suggestions with Denis, Andrew and Broderick. Denis so loves all the actresses, as well as Hiam Abbass and Dave Bautista, for their roles. We are so lucky to have this team of great acting talent.
Monday, July 10
Continued pre-production meetings today. We are filming inserts now so they are ready before Ryan begins. We begin principal photography on July 12 and are enthusiastic to start.
Robin Wright is here. She was able to fit this into her House of Cards schedule. Very tough scenes, she is terrific and such a pro. Sylvia Hoeks as Luv is fantastic –so scary. Denis thinks she is one of the finest actresses he’s ever worked with.
Sunday, July 24
I’ve been here since June 24 – exactly one month. I’m finally getting into a rhythm, despite schedule turned upside down, some very hot weather, and especially an entirely new world without Bud. My husband has died but I’m helping to birth a major film which we worked on together for over twelve years. A new chapter and a new ‘role’ as producer. It’s strange to enter into this new world. But after years of marriage and raising children, I find myself back where I started. It’s truly a miracle to have made it here, and I’m so sad Bud isn’t here to share in it. Hearing about the progress with the casting, the story, the announcements kept him going. I would read him the press releases and discuss the progress we were making on the project, which he loved. He was such a talent and a decent, kind and caring man. I miss him so much. I carry his picture with me everywhere.
Monday, July 25
We are beginning the 3rd week of shooting. I just saw dailies from last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday including scenes:
- Luv taking bones and killing Coco
- K after he retires Sapper – the shower is so cool and a nod to the hair dryer in first film
- K and Joi – afterwards
Ryan is so good in this with a combination of masculine, sexy strength and vulnerability. He and Ana have great chemistry. And it’s such a welcome respite from the grey gloomy world they inhabit. In one scene, she changes costumes from a 50’s housewife into a baseline black as she picks up a Nabokov book, then to a silver spangled party dress asking him to dance, back to black baseline and then finally a blue dress to twirl in with new found freedom. It gives Ryan so many colors to play. And Ana is so beautiful and a breath of fresh air and emotion in K’s otherwise grey, lonely world. When she disappears later, it will be so sad for the audience.
I’m also in awe of James Deakins, Roger’s wife, she does such a good job.
Tuesday, July 26
Bad allergies. The snow / rain / smoke machine has been working non-stop and is affecting my sinuses.
Wednesday, July 27
Discussed a scene with Gaff that is essential to the mythology of the movie. Coincidently, Gaff speaks in Hungarian in first Blade Runner. And here we are all these years later in Budapest!
Meanwhile we are filming the threesome scene today, which we refer to in one liner as the “shee-some.” This has never been done before, this intricate dance wherein Ana and Makenzie have to duplicate their exact moves to be blended together. Each cut has to be done twice to match. Ana once, then Mackenzie. John Nelson is brilliant with special effects. Ana and Ryan have great chemistry. She’s so beautiful and darling. Their love story will be so exciting to watch and it such a ray of sunshine for the film. Ryan and I were talking and he said the blending of the two women feels as though they are creating a third person. Denis told me he loves this scene.
Thursday, July 28
Went to check out the big water tank we are building. 100 feet across with a floating platform. We saved $1M by building it here instead of going to Malta. We have about 230 crew per day on this film which would have had to relocate. It’s also really cool to think that such a huge piece of the set will get to stay on in Budapest and be a part of many more films for years to come.
Meanwhile, we are all still working on coming up with a title for the film. I read a list of suggestions and wasn’t grabbed by anything, so I made some notes on words that had depth and meaning for me. I went to bed thinking about it and woke up in the middle of the night with the idea “Blade Runner: Time to Live”. It felt right. A play on words that refers to Roy Batty’s line from the first film “Time to die” – one of the most important and beloved scenes in the original. “Time to Live” foreshadows what our film is about – the replicants in the first film were never given the chance to live. It’s an homage with many layers, and it’s poetic.
John Nelson, VFX supervisor, showed us the plates being shot in Mexico, when K is on the way to Sapper’s farm. John explained how he would augment it with miniatures to give it more definition and depth. Need additional longer shots of rural town, not so much of the buildings.
We’re going ahead with Gaff’s scene and will film it at the end of this. He works in a nursing home.
Monday, August 1
Beginning week 4 of filming.
Doing scene 81 and rehearsing 84 – the morning after the threesome with Joi and Mariette. Mariette awakens while K is in the kitchen. She dresses and places a tracing device in his coat.
Tuesday, August 2
Scene 112AB – Luv breaks into K’s apartment looking for him and sees the broken antenna. Joi is free.
Scene 84 – Joi begs K to delete her from the console. This is an important moment in this love story because Joi is risking everything to be human – to be a real girl.
Wednesday, August 3
Moving off Origo Studio for the first time to Vas School. So extraordinary with the most amazing old American Indian and Aztec tiles. It’s a Heritage sight.
84A – Doc Badger – Barkhad Abdi – is wonderful and speaking in Somali.
He is examining the small wooden horse toy of K’s. Tells him it indicates radiation – from a dirty bomb.
Friday, August 5
Waited for Blair Rich, Head of Marketing at Warners, to land. Met her at Origo studios and toured all the sets. Dennis Gassner was wonderful, explaining how he worked out the vision he and Denis have for the film.
He described every detail to Blair. It was magical. Wallace’s office is huge and going to be amazing, especially with the water. Deckard’s plate glass is installed and it looks out at Vegas.
Trash Mesa now has all the little tables and tech items on them. It’s huge. Blair was so impressed by the amount of practical sets we’re doing instead of CGI.
Tuesday, August 9
Frank, Tim, and five friends came to visit straight from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I took them to lunches, dinners, and showed them around the set. Frank is thrilled and will come back in October when Harrison is here.
Wednesday, August 24
Back in Budapest after being in LA and London.
Bibi’s Bar – the set is all we had hoped it would be and more. It’s amazing to see the storyboard become this extraordinary lit up set filled with extras and rain and smoke. It’s such an homage to the original. Mackenzie and Ryan have such good scenes. She reminds me of Darryl Hannah – even her costume is reminiscent.
Andrew told me they are going with “Blade Runner 2051” (or 49 if they want the exact 30-year span with the 9 again). He and Sony both liked my suggestion of “Time to Live” as one of the top 3. Sony thinks they will end up using my title for the one of their presentation pieces later down the road in marketing.
Monday, August 29
We’re half a day behind. Discussed w/Don and Bill where to make it up. Ana’s lab is too important and too technical to rush or cut anything. Need to do the Mariette campfire scene before she leaves the 24th. It’s modular so it’s doable. Could be that Deckard’s walk through the Vegas statues will go faster and we can make it up there. Have to wait and see. Will need to be here tomorrow for the rooftop scene. The way the rain goes through Joi on the roof is so magical and I love the romantic feeling between them when K dances with her.
Tuesday, August 30
We all tried on the Virtual Reality glasses and viewed the rough cut of scenes for marketing. It’s amazing! Sitting down and spinning in a chair with the VR headsets kept me from falling down.
I took a photo in Bibi’s Bar. I was here!
Finishing up K’s apartment rooftop scene today. Dennis came up with the giant “Moebius” sign on the roof as an homage to Jean Moebius Gerraud, the genius graphic artist whose work inspired Ridley during the making of the first film. It’s a beautiful scene that perfectly captures a yearning to be more human. And the rain makes Joi look more human – it gives her form until she shorts out.