Having that conversation with Chris, and with Netflix, saying, “Hey, I want you to be on top of the train, and Fred North flying a helicopter 20 feet right there in front of you, it’s gonna be close enough because I’ll have a wide lens, and I’ll be right behind you with the camera.” But that’s the feeling I want to get, and fortunately with great filmmaking partners and collaborators, Netflix was on board, I guess also because of the safety history we’ve had of doing things safely and not having a bunch of things go wrong. They trust us and our team to do these things and pull them off without anyone getting injured, and fortunately, knock on wood, we did with both of these movies. I think that had a lot to do with it, and the trust that the producers had in us as a filmmaking team, to pull these things off in-camera was huge, because they could have definitely mandated it and said, “No, you’re not putting Chris Hemsworth on a speeding train with a helicopter in front of him,” or, “No, you’re not lighting him on fire for real.” BUT, they trusted us. We did both of those things for real.
The fire in the prison fight, right?
Yeah, we lit Chris Hemsworth on fire. His arm, that was real fire.
What did Chris Hemsworth say about the train? Was he excited, scared?
No, gosh, he is the most amazing collaborative filmmaking partner you could ever hope for. I would work with him every day of the week and twice on Sundays for the rest of my career, if I could. He’s 100% committed to he process, if that’s what it takes to get the shot that we want for that character, he’s onboard. Now he’s not an egomaniac, he’s not going to say, “I have to do everything, and you’re not doubling me.” He’s very professional in that he’ll talk about it, and we’ll look at a frame, and he’ll say, “I think the stunt double can do that better than me or more safely, as long as people aren’t seeing his face and wondering if that’s me, great, use the double.” He’s very smart about the placement—even Jackie Chan was. He would do the big stuff, the stuff where you see his face and you see his face and it’s dangerous and it sells the movie and its posters. To work with him on any of these sequences, there’s no pushback from a safety standpoint, because he understands that’s where my background is, in stunts, and keeping people safe. So he believes in me, and in our team, that we have done all of our due diligence and would not put him in a situation he was not prepared to handle. But I was never big enough or tall enough to double him. There are so many Chrises in the Marvel Universe!
I saw how you did camera operating for the last movie’s oner, and it was nuts. Did Netflix tell you not to do that again, or did you do more for this film?
The first one, I did pretty much all of it—I think there was one shot where I handed it off to someone else. But this one, it was probably 60-40. I did a lot of it, but some of the things we wanted to do required other people, like on the train. And there were many operators that would stand in. Our A Camera operator would do great stuff, and I did a majority of it, but Nathaniel Perry would step in. For example, when the chopper lands and it flies off, I run over, and I drop the camera down. I couldn’t climb down the train fast enough, as fast as the stunt guy could, so I had to hand it off to an operator, and then Nate grabbed it and ran with them along the front of the train to capture the rest of that shot. There was a lot more teamwork involved in this one because we had longer segments that covered more ground and were more technically challenging. So, we tried to push the envelope and raise the bar technically.