With much of the action set in and around Sydney, we spoke to Leann Emmert, the US based Supervising Location Manager, to find out more about the film’s NSW locations:
Why did you decide to shoot in Sydney?
First of all, we actually have some scenes that take place in a futuristic Sydney, so we always had a plan to scout and have a part of the filming here. Sydney has a really great look – you have some really great new modern neighbourhoods, such as Barangaroo and the new International Convention Centre, which has a whole modern look.
We also have a scene that takes place near the Opera House, because nothing places you in Sydney more than the Opera House and the Circular Quay area!
Also, the stages were available – there are some pretty amazing facilities in Sydney at Fox Studios Australia.
What can you tell us about the film’s key locations in NSW?
The Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay area is a key element to the whole Sydney battle. We have a robot on one side that’s come up out of the harbour, and we have a robot on the other that’s in this Pan Pacific Defence Corps building which we placed right in the middle of Tumbalong Park, and the new International Convention Centre Sydney, which is just a fantastic modern facility.
When we first started scouting, those buildings were still under construction; they didn’t have the glass and none of the stores were open. Now it’s a thriving neighbourhood filled with restaurants and office towers with over 16,000 employees – luckily for us they embraced us filming in the neighbourhood and shut down the street in the middle of a work day, with flipped cars! It was a big scene to shoot there and they were really welcoming.
One of the other locations we filmed at was in Cronulla. We had a scene set in Perryman Square, sort of a dystopian Santa Monica, where John Boyega runs up a pile of rubble looking out onto the ocean, where much of the action in our film originates. That’s a very popular surf beach, so again that’s another council that really embraced the filming and were really supportive of the project.
We also filmed on the Pacific Highway in North Sydney and I’m told it’s the biggest closure that’s ever happened, so I’m kind of proud of that! It was great, we’ve got a scene where a robot comes down and lands and tries to make a seemingly impossible rescue. Nearby construction also lent itself to our futuristic Sydney.
We were also at Cockatoo Island – what a cool facility! It’s not easy to get to because it’s an island, but as soon as we saw research images we immediately loved it and were like ‘that’s the location’. I’d also heard other productions had filmed there, ultimately, they were really fantastic to work with. The director loved it!
We also did a lot of aerial shots and other work on various streets, including Wynyard Walk and on Bridge Street.
We’ve got a lot of drone work as our characters are 30 storeys tall. There are some areas that normally are not so open to drone filming, but the city really embraced us, from the Premier’s Office down to the Roads Maritime Services; and specifically Create NSW which was instrumental in helping us get all the permits through. We had some big asks on this film and they walked us through the whole process and were a spokesperson for the film.
What do you love about filming in Sydney?
I’d say it’s a completely professional film community just like you’d see in Los Angeles. Besides it being a gorgeous city with a lot of really unique and interesting locations, Sydney is so liveable. Living in California it feels very familiar to me – very much like California, except you guys have accents and you drive on the other side of the road!
It’s really cool and there’s so much going on. Great restaurants and it’s just filled with culture and interesting things to do. I love the beaches there and really everything that Sydney has to offer.
April 6, 2018 www.ausfilm.com.au