Production Designer: Scott Chambliss
The Int. Conference Room set was an exciting puzzle to solve, as it needed to function on film in a couple ways: in a pristine condition for the conversational scene, and as one that could handle heavy SPFX explosions and stunts over a multiple day shoot. JJ Abrams had a clear vision of what he wanted for the scene, and had it fully mapped-out in previs, so I knew what action to accommodate for. Multiple meetings and walk-throughs of the set with the Director, DP, and all department heads greatly assisted in this effort.
The set for the opening scene on the red planet of Nibiru went through a number of phases. At its origin, the set was to be filmed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where VFX would digitally change all green vegetation into red. When this process, plus set builds, transportation, and housing of the entire cast and crew became prohibitively expensive, we were asked to find a way to do it all in Los Angeles. After several attempts to find a suitable jungle location failed, we braved all weather conditions, and built our own red jungle, from scratch, outside in the parking lot at our studio space in Playa Vista, CA. In the end, it measured only 40' wide by 120' long. We sculpted all of the terrain, and the trees and plants were modular, so that they could be moved by our Greensmen team into different positions to make the jungle look different each time the actors ran through it. Though some expressed doubt that this would work in a believable way, JJ was pleased with the result, it performed beautifully, and it became a memorable scene in the final film. I'm betting that Nibiru could return in a future sequel... I'm ready.
All photos by L. Polizzi