Behind the Scenes of Percy Jackson
If it takes 10 hours to shoot a 2-minute scene, then how long for a whole movie!
The first of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series, The Lightning Thief, will soon be on the big screen. How do I know? I recently visited the movie set in Vancouver, Canada, where author Rick Riordan’s most famous creation is being filmed. The fifth and final book in the series, The Last Olympian, was released this May. The movie is set to be release in February 2010.
It was my first time on a movie set, and it was amazing! The scene being filmed the day I visited was when Grover and Percy walk out of the infirmary in Camp Half-blood. It’s the scene when Grover tells Percy that he, too, is a demigod. The setting of Camp Half-Blood is in Golden Ears Park, so there was an abundance of trees, moss, shrubs, and mosquitoes!
The unit publicist, who was pretty much our tour guide that day, took my mom and me around the area so I could get a view of all the camera angles. I also got to hang out in the director’s tent where Director Chris Columbus worked setting up and reviewing the different shots on a computer screen. (Columbus also directed the first two Harry Potter movies.)
The entire 10-hour workday was spent on that one scene, which will end up being only about two-minutes long in the movie. They had to get five different angles of the scene, and since the actors would forget lines or the lighting wasn’t always perfect, it took the whole day just to get it right.
The first half of the day, the director focused on getting the front and right side views of the scene. After a nice lunch in the dining tent, actors took about a half-hour break in their mobiles before getting back to work. The last half of the day, cameras were focused on the left angle and the back. Cameras were set up behind the actors to film them while they walked. This took only about half an hour, because you wouldn’t see the actors’ lips moving. It didn’t matter if they flubbed their lines for this!
You may think that one scene is easier or harder to shoot than the other, but not according to Columbus.
“I think on this film, every scene is a major challenge to create the reality of the Olympian world,” he said.
It was a great day and I learned a lot about how much work it takes to make a movie.
PHOTO: Grace and and Brandon T. Jackson, who plays Grover, on the set of The Lightning Thief in Vancouver, Canada, summer 2009. Photo Courtesy Grace Choi.