In a climactic sequence in Jungle Cruise, Emily Blunt’s Lily Houghton and Dwayne Johnson’s Frank Wolff are tasked with diving down from their boat to unravel an underwater puzzle, which proves tougher than anticipated. Lily turns into trapped within the puzzle, combating for air, and it takes some intelligent considering to power it open and drain the water so the pair can entry a secret cave. Filming a scene like that requires an professional, which got here within the type of underwater director of images Ian Seabrook. Seabrook, recognized for his work on movies like Mission: Inconceivable – Ghost Protocol and Batman v Superman: Daybreak of Justice, stepped in to assist director Jaume Collet-Serra be certain that the underwater scenes have been shot as seamlessly as attainable.
Watching the underwater scene in Jungle Cruise is tense, however Seabrook tells Observer that taking pictures it wasn’t. It’s all about that plausible phantasm created for the display screen.
“Oftentimes if you watch scenes which can be underwater the tendency is to attempt to maintain your breath for so long as the characters do,” Seabrook laughs. “Though, if you happen to’re an avid filmgoer, you recognize ‘Oh yeah, they’re chopping round that.’ That’s not truly how lengthy they held their breath for.”
It’s not such as you’re rolling immediately. She has to get set in place, so there’s much more time to carry her breath.
Filming the sequence took per week and a half within the midst of manufacturing, in September of 2018, with the underwater unit working concurrently to the movie’s principal unit, in addition to its second unit. As a result of scheduling was tight and Johnson and Blunt couldn’t at all times be current for the underwater unit’s photographs, Seabrook and his group filmed a number of days with their stunt group. Something filmed from behind or from far-off may use a stunt double as an alternative of the principle actor, though Johnson and Blunt did plenty of the sequence themselves.
“They have been nice within the water,” Seabrook says of the actors. “Emily Blunt is a girl of all trades — she will be able to do an motion stunt, she will be able to do the performing. She’s superb at every little thing, as a result of not everybody can pull that off. After which Dwayne’s obtained a protracted historical past of being bodily onscreen. The pair of them have been fairly good. She needed to dangle onto his shoulders as he was doing the breaststroke, and he’s obtained a reasonably highly effective breaststroke on him.”
To finish the sequence, the filmmakers used two tanks at Blackhall Studios in Atlanta. One was an exterior tank inbuilt a car parking zone for the boat to sit down in and the opposite was an inside tank, which held 177,000 gallons of water, to shoot every little thing underneath the floor.
“The inside tank was higher for visibility and for retaining the temperature of the water regulated,” Seabrook explains. “Normally if you’re taking pictures within the open ocean or a lake or in nature, the visibility might be dictated by regardless of the climate situations are or the water situations — any of that sort of stuff. You’re combating the weather. You’re combating present. And the expertise within the water might or will not be comfy. So the tank atmosphere is a managed atmosphere. You possibly can management the lighting. You possibly can go slower with the expertise in the event that they’re not comfy within the water.”
You might solely get one take out of individuals. So every little thing needs to be prepared. The primary take nearly needs to be good. I’ve to neglect my diving abilities solely and focus on the 4 corners of the body and what’s inside it.
Whereas the sequence makes it seem like Blunt is holding her breath for a number of minutes as she’s trapped underwater, trying to unravel the puzzle, in actuality the filmmakers normally solely preserve the actors underneath for brief spurts of time. The takes averaged between 10 and 15 seconds, sometimes as much as 30 seconds. Seabrook says it’s uncommon for an actor to should do a take for a whole minute (though he remembers Ryan Reynolds doing a 90-second underwater tackle Deadpool 2).
“Numerous instances if it’s them swimming down they’ll should get their breath on the floor after which they’ll mainly simply swim previous digicam,” Seabrook explains. “That’s possibly 5 to seven seconds. However for one thing extra intricate, like the place Emily’s character is making an attempt to unravel that puzzle piece, a big portion of that was accomplished by her stunt double, Lauren, who was superb.”
He provides, “And it’s not such as you’re rolling immediately. She has to get set in place, so there’s much more time to carry her breath. There’s one other seven to 10 seconds of fiddling earlier than we truly roll. That provides you an concept for her stamina for that sort of work. And that set for Jungle Cruise had an overhead atmosphere, so that you needed to slip into the set. We had escape routes for her, but it surely wasn’t like she may go straight out. She needed to navigate her manner out of that.”
As an underwater cinematographer, Seabrook is, in fact, with the actors within the water, in diving gear. He’s usually the primary particular person to go down into the tank so as to arrange the shot — equally to how a cinematographer would arrange a shot on land. As soon as he’s prepared, a security diver brings the actor or stunt particular person into the tank.
“On one thing like this you will solely get one take out of individuals,” Seabrook notes. “So every little thing needs to be prepared. The primary take nearly needs to be good. On my finish, I’ve to verify the lighting is right and the set is prepared. I’ve to neglect my diving abilities solely and focus on the 4 corners of the body and what’s inside it. So when the expertise comes within the focus is totally on them.”
To speak with the director, who stays outdoors the tank, there’s a loudspeaker positioned underwater. The director can name “Motion!” by way of the speaker or ask Seabrook a query. The cinematographer replies by “nodding” or “shaking no” the digicam, which the director can see on the displays. “It’s a director’s fantasy of a one-way communication,” Seabrook notes. “They discuss and nobody solutions again.”
The largest problem got here on the finish of the sequence in Jungle Cruise, as Blunt’s character solves the puzzle and the water drains away. To create the phantasm of the water degree taking place, the filmmakers raised the set out of the tank with a crane. Getting the shot proper meant that Seabrook needed to be lifted out of the water on the identical time whereas balancing the underwater digicam.
“Principally the set is lifted out of the tank by the crane after which I’m on the set holding the digicam, which, at that time when it comes out of the water, is about 80 kilos,” Seabrook recollects. “And also you’ve obtained a digicam housing that’s negatively buoyant within the water, so it doesn’t drop when it’s submerged. It’s no totally different from a Steadicam, or any sort of digicam that’s on a platform that must be stabilized or balanced. So when the set’s being lifted up, all that strain is pushing down, so that you’re holding the digicam and it’s pulling you down and you continue to have to keep up the shot. You possibly can’t bail on the shot as a result of it’s too heavy — it’s important to actually brace your self.”
Taking pictures this form of sequence is a typical day’s work for Seabrook, who’s certainly one of just a few working cinematographers who specialise in underwater filming. Not too long ago, he’s labored on every little thing from It: Chapter Two to Military of the Useless to M. Night time Shyamalan’s newest effort, Previous. He usually shoots underwater models, however can be a second unit director — Seabrook took on each roles for the upcoming Francis Lawrence movie Slumberland. The underwater sequences in Previous, Seabrook’s second collaboration with Shyamalan after Glass, have been shot within the Dominican Republic at Pinewood Studios, which has an infinity tank. There have been additionally 60 ft of tunnels meshed collectively, which the solid needed to free dive by means of for a scene on the finish of the movie.
“The actors did it in phases, however nonetheless,” Seabrook says. “That was accomplished within the tank. They’d accomplished some taking pictures in coves across the Dominican, across the seaside the place the story takes place, and so they obtained walloped by plenty of surf. I feel they have been making an attempt to do it themselves and didn’t have a specialist there and it was a little bit of a nautical catastrophe for a few of the tools. It’s why you rent a cinematographer who’s a specialist.”
He provides, “I might say there’s possibly 5 individuals who specialise in it with sizable credit. It’s one thing folks go ‘Oh, I may try this. I may put a digicam within the water and get in there.’ And it’s extra than simply that. It’s a specialty.”
Jungle Cruise is in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Entry now.
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