There are scenes in Gerard Butler’s latest disaster drama Greenland that struck me as “impossible to film” now. The scenes had nothing to do with the asteroid fragments that were entering our atmosphere, or the damage done to our planet in the aftermath of such devastation. Special effects will always make scenes like that possible. No, Greenland must have been one of the last films to wrap its production before the pandemic shut our industry down, and there are massive scenes of huge crowds gathered together in a panic as survivors tried to figure out what to do in a panic.
And I kept thinking, “What will the film industry do moving forward?” How will it be possible, in the short term, to film movies like Greenland? Yes, a vaccine is on its way, but it could take the better part of 2021 to restore some form of normalcy. So when given the chance to interview the people responsible for this new film, I posed the question to them, as they speak from experience. Their answers are in the video above.
In Greenland, Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin are parents on the run when society is thrown off kilter by the arrival of asteroid pieces that are breaking through our stratosphere. Only, in the hands of director Ric Roman Waugh, this isn’t Armageddon. There’s a lot of character work included in the dialogue, as real people face real-world problems in the wake of the physical disasters.
Waugh had an optimistic approach to the challenges of filming dramatic stories like this in the wake of a global pandemic. He told CinemaBlend:
They’re going to be harder to put together, but we are going to figure it out. I’m in the middle of leaving on the next film that Gerard (Burtler) and I are going to do. We’re going to go three in a row together. And there are some scenes with massive crowds in it. You just realize that we all have to make lemonade out of lemons. We all have to figure out clever ways to do things. We finished Greenland during the pandemic. This movie was filmed, cut, screened, tested and locked before there was anything called COVID, and suddenly something that was hypothetical (became) much more of a reality. It was a very surreal experience to be on a mix stage and suddenly be in the middle of a pandemic. … I was really moved by a team of 300 people -- and I’m talking about editors and visual effects, colorists and mixers -- we all went to our couches, just like we are right now, and we finished the movie remotely.
Resourcefulness and creativity: two things that are in abundance in Hollywood (when the right people can tap into them). Greenland co-star Morena Baccarin contributed to the group effort of bringing this movie to screens, but she’s more hesitant about the industry’s ability to mount massive productions like this, at least in the short term. Baccarin told CinemaBlend:
I don’t know how we do that before there’s a vaccine. I don’t see how that’s possible. I think smaller movies, certainly. I think that’s what we’re going to see a lot of in the coming months, as things reopen. … We were so grateful for our background actors in the film. They were standing out there for hours and hours in extreme heat and really showed up for us. Because we really couldn’t do those scenes without their participation and their commitment to the scene.