In October of 2009, I was invited to visit the set of Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: Los Angeles while the production was filming in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the time, I didn’t know much beyond the basics (aliens attack and the Marine’s have to kick ass), but with sci-fi being my favorite genre, I knew that I wanted to see the production up close.
While my set visit illuminated what the film was going to be about and how Liebesman planned to shoot most of the film with handheld cameras, by now most of you already know the basics as the awesome Battle: Los Angeles trailers have been very popular with our readers. However, for the few that haven’t seen them, Battle: L.A. gets released March 11, and it stars Aaron Eckhart, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Ne-Yo, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ramon Rodriguez and many others.
Even though there are a number of “aliens attacking” movies on the horizon, I really believe Battle: Los Angeles is going to be very cool and most of it stems from being on set and seeing firsthand what the production was trying to accomplish. More after the jump:
Before going any further, I need to apologize. I’d planned on writing an in depth piece about my set visit but I’m currently at Sundance and completely swamped with a hundred things. However, before I left for the Festival, Peter (from /Film) and I recorded an extended video blog about our set visits. While we’re usually on set together, we went on different days and saw different things. So instead of just hearing about what I saw, by watching the video, you can get recaps of both set visits.
But there is one thing I want to mention that was the real highlight of the set visit…I watched about 6 or so Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey’s (more info on them here) take off and land incredibly close to where I was standing. The only way to describe them is to say they’re like real life Transformers. It’s because of the way they take off and land. When I was standing there watching them, I really felt like I was watching a Michael Bay moment come to life. I was extremely impressed. Of course I saw lots of other awesome stuff on set, but watching those Osprey’s was something I’ll never forget.
Anyhow, here’s the video. I’ve time indexed it so you can watch the parts that interest you. I really think Battle: Los Angeles is going to be awesome. I hope I’m right. You can also read/listen to my on set interview with Aaron Eckhart, Michael Peña, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan and Ramon Rodriguez here.
- :55 – Intro/Talk about Jonathan Liebesman’s previous work
- 2:10 – First impressions of Battle: Los Angeles footage seen so far
- 2:50 – Talk about the plot of the movie, describe it as “Black Hawk Down meets Aliens”
- 3:45 – Talk about the style of the movie, the type of movie Liebesman had in mind
- 4:15 – Talk about how Liebesman got help from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp in creating his “pitch” for being chosen as the director of the movie by Sony
- 5:20 – Talk about the aliens in the film. How they’re “unlike any we’ve seen before on film”
- 6:54 – Peter talks about his set visit. Saw a “destroyed LA” set, were shooting with 3 cameras documentary-style.
- 8:15 – Why the movie could never go through post-conversion 3D
- 9:50 – Peter continues describing his set visit. Saw an indoor apartment complex set, underground sewer sets. Says this is not an Independence Day-type sci-fi film where everything about the aliens is explained. Entire film is from the marines’ point of view.
- 10:53 – Talk about possible sequel ideas.
- 11:45 – Steve talks about his set visit. Calls it the “Michael Bay” visit. Talks about the “sizzle reel” he saw, which included scenes shot by Liebesman before filming the movie in order to pitch his idea to Sony.
- 13:20 – Talks about seeing US military aircraft that are able to take off straight upwards.
- 15:25 – Peter talks about how private plane passengers were scared landing at the airport after the Battle: LA crew had dressed it to look destroyed
- 16:22 – Steve describes a scene he saw filmed involving Aaron Eckhart informing his soldiers what they must do at the beginning of the film
- 17:00 – Talk about the roundtable interviews with the entire cast
- 18:15 – Talk about what the actors did in their spare time while filming in Baton Rouge (drinking, video games, etc.)
- 18:50 – Talk about how the military advisor on set was also the advisor on a lot of the Call of Duty video games
- 19:20 – Steve continues talking about his set visit. Talks about being wary of the “troubled” planes.
- 20:10 – Talk about the long wait for the film and the release date shift, how that reflects positively on the film
- 20:50 – Talk about recent positive test screenings of the film
- 21:50 – Talk about how this is going to be a big film for Liebesman
- 22:14 – Talk about how Liebesman runs the set. In-between takes he has a guy with a sound system playing music to get the actors pumped up for the next scene. Certain actors would have a “theme song”.
- 23:40 – Talk about the future for Liebesman ie. Wrath of the Titans
- 25:00 – Wrap up/closing thoughts
Look for some Battle: Los Angeles on set interview later today. Until then, here are a few new images from the film.