True stars of film shoot are crew |

True stars of film shoot are crew

GLENWOOD CANYON ” Lights, camera … climb!

Hundreds of feet in the air, four tiny figures could be seen Monday standing on a narrow rock ledge above the Hanging Lake tunnels in Glenwood Canyon.

Across the canyon on the north side, another collection of figures could be spotted high on the canyon’s walls.

Both locations had cable rigging set up to shuttle camera equipment and lunches up and down to the filmmakers above.

“They’re our extreme camera operators,” said Mic Rodgers, the second unit director for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” a major motion picture currently in production with New Regency Films.

Monday was the first day of filming in Glenwood Canyon for Rodgers and his crew.

The Glenwood Canyon scenes will take at least four days to shoot, which will likely translate to maybe two actual minutes of screen time when the film is edited and released.

But there’s a lot that goes into two minutes of film. The Hanging Lake rest area will be closed at least through this week, and possibly through March 19. And through this Thursday, the Colorado State Patrol will be slowing traffic in both directions to allow for filming.

As helicopters whirred overhead, Rodgers stood under a little white E-Z-Up Tent in the Hanging Lake rest area, with visual effects supervisor Kevin Elam, stunt coordinator Chris Tuck, assistant directors, and a cadre of transportation, construction and catering crew standing by.

Rodgers seemed as calm and as cool as could be.

With 30 years in the film business, in jobs from stuntman to director, he’s seen it all. He’s been Mel Gibson’s stunt double for many of Gibson’s pictures, including the “Lethal Weapon” films, and was a stunt coordinator and stuntman on “Braveheart.”

Lots of people

The film stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but the actors were nowhere in sight. They won’t make any appearances in the canyon, but instead are using a set in Los Angeles for filming.

“They’re only about 10 feet off the ground when they shoot their scenes,” said Rodgers with a slight smile, looking up at the human specks on the canyon walls, where stunt climbers will fill in for the actors.

But no matter. Even without Jolie and Pitt, there’s a lot that goes into making a movie. Just ask Kelly Kiernan, a representative for New Regency Films who was at the shoot on Monday.

“That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions about the movie business,” Kiernan said, of her 15-year career in film production. “Before, I never realized how many people it takes to make a film, and how many specialists it takes.”

The second biggest misconception, Kiernan said, involves the hours people in the film industry put in.

“I had no idea,” she said, when she first started in the industry.

Monday’s call was 6:45 a.m., and days and nights run long.

Safety first

It might seem like the process of filming an action-packed film like “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is chock-full of dangerous maneuvers and harebrained risks ” but Kiernan said on location shoots such as this, the No. 1 concern is safety.

“Nothing is left to chance,” said Kiernan. “It’s ironic, because the most exciting, heart-racing film segments require the most precise planning.”

On Monday, EMT/medic Linda Larmon, who splits her time between Los Angeles and El Jebel, was leaning on a guard rail in the rest area’s parking lot. Equipped with three radios, she was tracking every move of the helicopter above, the crews on the cliffs and the director below.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on here ” it’s planes, trains and automobiles!” she said. “But we’ve been setting up here for three weeks, and so far, we’ve had no injuries.”

Next to Larmon sat Randy Hill and Josh Allison from the Glenwood Springs Fire Department. Local firefighters, equipped with an ambulance, will be taking turns being on-call while crews film in the canyon.

“We start when they start and stop when they stop,” said Allison. “We’ll be here as long as they’re here.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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