In celebration of this weekend’s U.S. release of The Host, Dread Central was invited out to The Orphanage to sit down with Visual FX Supervisor Kevin Rafferty, who discussed the creation of the great Korean beast.
“The Korean title is Gwoemul, which means sea monster, and I would always call her that in dailies. One of our guys said, ‘I can’t pronounce that, so I’m just gonna call her Ginger’,” laughs Rafferty. “Weta’s involvement was creature design and The Orphanage was bringing it to the film. During these preproduction meetings, we had decided upfront not to use green screen or blue screen; not to use motion control to give the director and the cinematographer as much freedom in camera movement as possible. [The film cost] eleven million and it’s basically the biggest budget Korea’s had for an FX film. I got a call from a producer who had seen the picture and he wanted to pick my brain about how to do a film in the States smart, and I told him do the principal [shooting] in Korea, because of the eleven million budget, the effects were almost half that.”
Aside from getting you $11 million worth in South Korea, the entire working environment is far removed from the States. “For the principal photography there is a world of difference between a South Korean crew and a Hollywood crew,” Rafferty explained. “There are no unions [in South Korea]. I walked away from that experience feeling I was part of a family with a passion for filmmaking rather than a bunch of people who were counting their meal penalties. Everybody pitched in to do things, even if they weren’t in their line of specialty. The cast as well. It wouldn’t matter if they had a call time even if they weren’t shooting that day, they’d come by set to hang out and see what’s going on. You never see that here.”
Also on the slate from The Orphanage is a little film called Grindhouse, which Rafferty discusses with great enthusiasm: “It will be interesting to see what you guys think of Grindhouse because when you see the film, there’s a tremendous amount of distressed film, we digitally distressed it, digitally burned it, and [Robert] Rodriguez really knows his stuff. With Quentin [Tarantino], digital is not his modus operandi. So what did he do? He threw the negative on the ground and ran over it with a truck!”
The Host opens on Friday in limited release and, naturally, Magnolia Pictures hopes the film will be as huge in the States as it is in Korea. “One in four people in Korea have seen it,” says Rafferty. “25% of the population paid to see it.” Can we even hope for numbers that good here? Only time will tell!
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