30 Things to Know About UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING From Our Set Visit; Plus Video Blog Recap

     August 22, 2011

Underworld-4-Awakening-logo slice

Back in early May, I got to visit the set of Underworld: Awakening when the production was filming in Vancouver.  While on set, I got to watch Kate Beckinsale and Michael Ealy film a few scenes that take place towards the end of the film, watch the brand new RED EPIC 3D cameras in action (which looked amazing and they’re also being used on The Hobbit and The Amazing Spider-Man), learn the interesting and unique way that directors Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein work together, and I also got to participate in group interviews with producer Richard Wright, Stunt Coordinator/2nd Unit Director Brad Martin, as well as Beckinsale, Ealy, and directors Marlind & Stein.  It was a really fun day on set that I’ll recap after the jump.

Before going any further, if you missed the recently released teaser trailer for Underworld: Awakening, I’d watch that first:

Underworld4_awakening_poster_comicconAs most of you know, when I do a set visit, I’ll always record a video blog as soon as it’s over.  For Underworld: Awakening, I did a video blog recap with Ed Douglas from Coming Soon.  Here’s what we talked about, and further down the page are the “30 Things to Know About Underworld: Awakening.”

Underworld: Awakening Video Blog Time Index

  • Where we are and the title of the film
  • :30 – We recap what we saw on set
  • 1:15 – Our thoughts on the Underworld franchise
  • 1:55 – Were we excited about the 4th Underworld when we first heard about it
  • 2:15 – How they’re shooting in 3D and what the film is about
  • 3:30 – How humans are a huge part of Underworld: Awakening
  • 4:40 – How there is a corporation like the Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil in this Underworld movie
  • 5:30 – How we’re both excited about directors Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein. We also talk about the crazy way they work together.
  • 7:45 – How they’re shooting on the RED EPIC which a lot of really big movies are using. Also, they’ll be the first movie in theaters using this camera.
  • 8:30 – The 3D aspects of the movie and where they were shooting.  How they were getting a lot of production value using the University campus.
  • 9:50 – How you already know what the Underworld movie will be before you walk into the theater.
  • 10:20 – How a young girl is cast in the movie who has a significant role in the film.  Also, we talk about the footage we got to see on the playback monitors.
  • 11:15 – The look and framing of the film
  • 11:45 – How we have both left set visits and then been burned
  • 12:45 – A recap of the technical interviews from the set visit. We talk about the post production schedule and how they have a lot more CGI creatures. How the last 45 minutes is a lot of action.
  • 15:00 – More recap of set visit and what we saw on monitors
  • 15:45 – What filming a 3D movie is really like on set
  • 16:40 – The highlight of the day: getting to interview Kate Beckinsale while in her Underworld outfit
  • 17:40 – Final thoughts and how did the directors get the job


kate-beckinsale-underworld-imageWhile on set, I got to participate in group interviews with Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, producer Richard Wright, Stunt Coordinator/2nd Unit Director Brad Martin, and directors Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein.  From the interviews I put together the “30 Things to Know.”  If you’d like to read the full interviews or listen to the audio, just click the links.

Producer Richard Wright Full Interview

  • Although there’s no greenlight or script for a fifth installment, Wright says they have a pretty good idea of who the characters will be and what the basic timeline would be. Underworld 5 would probably take place after the events of 4.
  • The first ten minutes of Underworld: Awakening is a prologue that explains everything that’s happened before the events of the film, then it cuts to 15 years later.
  • The co-directors would trade off days being the director of the film. One of them is more the writer and one is more the editor.
  • Although Len Wiseman isn’t directing this time around, he’s still heavily involved as a producer and he wrote the original story.
  • Instead of the normal one day of test shooting, they shot tests for five weeks with the RED EPIC 3D cameras in order to become well-versed in the technology.
  • They’re taking an understated and somewhat conservative approach to the 3D, but there will still be little moments of projectiles and things coming out at the audience.
  • While Scott Speedman isn’t back for this film, his character plays a role in Awakening, and the idea is that Speedman would return for Underworld 5.
  • Given the darkness of the Underworld films, the projected image will be brighter to compensate for the dimming of 3D.

kate-beckinsale-underworld-imageKate Beckinsale Full Interview

  • She didn’t plan on returning to the franchise. She thought it was going to be a trilogy and that was that, and had no interest in coming back until Wiseman told her his idea for the fourth film, which she took a liking to.
  • When casting her daughter in the film, Wiseman told her he found the perfect girl. Then, without knowing who it was that Wiseman was talking about, Beckinsale and her daughter were browsing around a Barnes and Noble where she spotted a girl that looked exactly like her. The girl in the bookstore turned out to be the same girl Wiseman was talking about (India Eisley), and she was cast in the film.
  • Being one of the few people left from the original film, she had a voice in making some of the more creative decisions about her character.
  • She enjoyed the added stakes to the film that came with the addition of a daughter for Selene.
  • The film follows Selene’s journey as a not-so-maternalistic woman who finds out that she now has a teenage daughter.

Michael Ealy Full Interview

  • Ealy plays a human cop who starts to investigate into the world of vampires and Lycans.
  • In the world of Underworld: Awakening, most humans believe that Lycans are extinct.
  • He was jarred by the fact that the directors and the producers and everyone watched the playback of each scene in 3D in the tent, so they all had 3D glasses on.
  • He said at the beginning, when everyone was getting the hang of it, it took a while to shoot because working with 3D was more difficult. But as the production went on, it got faster.
  • He’s in the big final action sequence but he doesn’t get to fight the twelve-foot uber-Lycan?

Directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein underworld 4 awakeningDirectors Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein Full Interview

  • When they were starting out, they wanted to work together but they both liked the same aspects of filmmaking, so they decided to direct every second day. One would direct one day, and the other the next day, and whoever’s day off it is would just be the other director’s “best buddy,” there to help him on whatever he needs help on. The best buddy also deals with the producers and such while the other director is focused on the shoot.
  • They say Awakening is different from the other films in that it’s a more emotional story, and the look of the film is all them.
  • Regarding comparisons to Twilight, they say Underworld has a completely different vibe than those films, it’s very dark. It’s a completely different vampire.
  • Awakening was the first time either of them had worked with a digital camera as opposed to film.
  • There’s a big car chase scene in the movie where the characters are being chased by Lycans through the middle of the city.

kate-beckinsale-underworld-imageStunt Coordinator/2nd Unit Director Brad Martin Full Interview

  • In the opening battle of the film, which shows us what happens before Selene wakes up in the future, we see her take on humans for the first time.
  • For Beckinsale’s fighting style, he says there are certain kinds that don’t work, like Kung-fu and Wu-Shu. Her fighting style has a bit of Aikido and some Bourne Identity-type stuff in an anime way.
  • To account for the 3D, they found that it’s not good to have a lot of quick-cutting, so they opted for longer movements and shots.
  • With the wire-work, he kept it more reality-based and didn’t want a lot of “floating.”
  • There’s a CG uber-Lycan, so Beckinsale had to interact a lot with the stunt guys.
  • There are three big set pieces: one in a stairwell when Kate is fighting in her prime, one in The Coven where the vampires are attacked underground by the werewolves, and one in a parking structure.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve seen the first three Underworld movies, you know what you’re going to get in the 4th installment.  However, what excites me about the latest chapter is the directors and the 3D.  I’ve recently been on a few set visits that use the RED EPIC 3D cameras and can tell you with certainty they’re game changers.  If you’re a film nerd, wait until you see what these cameras can do.

In addition, I think the 4th Underworld has a solid story and with Kate Beckinsale coming back I’m a lot more excited to see it.  I also like how humans play a significant role.  While it’s still too early to know if the 4th installment will be the best in the franchise, I think it should be a fun movie.  We’ll know in January.


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