Exclusive: RT Visits the Set of WAZ
Blood, gore and cement factories in Belfast.
Indeed, this whole moment has come from the actors' rehearsal run-through with Shankland -- the script initially calls for them simply to listen to the message and move on, but the actors sense the need for an emotional climax. "I love watching them work," says producer James Richardson, "these two have an amazing chemistry and they can find things in the script that none of us saw."
As powerful as the pair are in front of the camera, behind it they're cracking jokes at every opportunity and keeping the atmosphere on the set light. "It's actually pronounced Skars-gourd," we overhear Skarsgard tell Richardson when he asks about the circle above the second A, "but you can call me whatever you want. Call me asshole if it makes you happy!"
Director Tom Shankland and crew on the set of WAZ.
The small nature of the location and the crew makes the production so much more intimate than it might be on a larger film, but you'd never guess the film's modest budget from the quality of the footage they're collecting. "I guess we specialise in making small films that can compete with the best coming out of big-budget Hollywood productions," explains Richardson, "that's something we've always tried to do at Vertigo."
"It's certainly quite, quite different from shooting something like Pirates of the Caribbean," Skarsgard elaborates, "on Pirates there was a much bigger crew of people and everything was so much slower -- it would be hours between shots. But in some ways the part of the Caribbean I saw was the tourist Caribbean and it wasn't very fun. Belfast is much more intersting. I've walked around, I've eaten at restaurants and met and worked with locals so you get to see a little of the society you're working in, which you don't get on Pirates."
As a swoop of police cars move into position to rehearse the final shot of the night, Skarsgard reminds us why we're there in sub-zero temperatures at 5 o'clock in the morning. "I've done something like sixty-five films in my career, but it's just as exciting an environment to me now as it was when I first started."
One of the many bloody moments lovingly created on the set of WAZ.
Cut to eighteen months later. RT is in Edinburgh for the film festival in August 2007. WAZ premieres tonight and we're walking the red carpet with Skarsgard, Bradley and Shankland. Skarsgard explains his earlier enthusiasm. "I like what I do. There are always new challenges and it's always difficult and it's always fascinating. I don't deliver on the set what I've figured out at home. I've done preparations but I come to the set to explore the scene, to explore the material, to get together with the other actors. I still enjoy myself immensely when I work.
When we eventually get into the cinema the place is packed full of eager members of the public who've managed to nab one of the quickly sold out tickets, but as the lights come up at the end of the film and the Q&A starts, no-one has any questions to ask. It's not that they didn't like the film, it's just that they're so shell-shocked they can't find words. This amuses the film's director to no end.
"I love that it's just about the most violent way of testing whether love exists ever, it really gets to you," laughs Shankland with a devious glimmer in his eye as he sits down with RT later. He seems to enjoy torturing his cast and his audience and he's already planning on some more - as WAZ releases he's already on the set of his follow-up, a horror flick called The Day. "I saw WAZ more in the sense of a classic detective story than a torture porn film, and for me it was all about holding back. It's violent, but something that I did take from Se7en was that that film leaves a lot to your imagination but sets up its shots to ensure that your imagination does its worst."
If the audience's reaction is anything to go by, the film does just that. WAZ releases in the UK today.