It’s only Friday afternoon in San Diego, but Los Angeles already has hosted not one but two apocalypses. On Thursday, Sony previewed its 2011 alien invasion actioner “Battle: Los Angeles,” and Friday it was Universal’s turn to showcase “Skyline,” brothers Colin and Greg Strause’s sci-fi entry about, well, an alien invasion.
So, just what is it about L.A. that makes it such a tempting target for mass destruction? The breathtaking beaches? The soaring skyscrapers? Maybe the city’s teeming populace? Turns out, the answer is none of the above. Though all of those elements appear in “Skyline,” the directors chose the city out of sheer convenience. Greg Strause lives in Marina del Rey, and his apartment served as a no-fuss location for the low-budget production.
Most people don’t know the Strauses, but they would recognize many of the 65 films they worked on. Their special effects shop, Hydraulx, developed computer-generated scenes for such movies as “Avatar,” “Iron Man 2” and “2012,” which, again, gleefully tears up Los Angeles, along with the rest of the planet.
But whereas “Avatar” took more than four years to make, “Skyline,” set for release Nov. 12, is on schedule to take less than 11 months, from test teaser to silver screen.
“We saw the teaser in Greg’s apartment around Thanksgiving,” said Donald Faison, who costars in the film with Eric Balfour, David Zayas, Scottie Thompson and Brittany Daniel.
The film’s scrappy crew of 20 worked on the fly and on the cheap, with no studio financing. But the main reason they were able to pull it off, Colin Strause told the audience in Hall H, was technology.
Using high-end digital cameras, they were able to shoot scenes in low light, which saved them the expense of elaborate cinematography. Another advantage: The cameras could record an hour-and-a-half at a time without stopping, whereas traditional film cameras need to stop every few minutes. A shoot with a helicopter that would have taken 10 days on a film camera took them one day, he said.
“Technology is going to be changing the way filmmaking is done,” he said.
— Alex Pham
Photo: Donald Faison co-stars in “Skyline.” Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times.
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