FILM / Production Notes: Mike Boudry of the Computer Film Company on how he pushed Tim Robbins over the edge

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The Independent Culture
THE MAIN sequences we worked on were the two scenes in which Charles Durning and Tim Robbins jump from the top of a high skyscraper. One thing that's a bit different about these special effects is that they're very long. Often, film effects last just a few seconds, so that it's all over before you get a good chance to look at them.

The Coen Brothers are visually very specific. It's quite amazing how accurately the storyboards they drew are there in the final film. They're unusual in that respect - Bernardo Bertolucci, whom we worked with on Little Buddha, will tell you what he wants and then expect you to go away and do something magical.

We had to produce the falling sequences in a way that accords with the Coens' vision. That's not necessarily the same as being physically right. For instance, you don't necessarily want physically correct timing, you want dramatically correct timing. And you don't want people to fall in an untidy way. In archive footage of the Hindenburg disaster, where people actually fell out of an airship, you see them trying to run in the sky. Whereas what you imagine happening, and what happens in Hudsucker, is that people put their arms out and sort of fly. That's the dramatically strong and acceptable way of showing a fall, otherwise it gets grotesque and horrible.

Many shots are a mix of effects. When you see Tim Robbins by a window, there are three elements. The window itself is real. The top of the building around it and the clock is a model. And the snow is computer-generated.

When Paul Newman looks through the window, note the pane of glass just under his chest. It isn't actually there; it was added in later as a special effect. If the glass was there while they were filming, it would have caught a reflection of the camera crew.

And the first fall, when Waring Hudsucker (Durning) jumps out of the window, starts low, at street level, and pans up. You start with a real building, but only up to about the first floor. After that, you see a model, until you come to the man smashing out through the glass, which is filmed against blue screen. I love these long, fluid complex shots. With digital technology, you can put together very complicated continuous sequences involving different effects in the same shot, and Hudsucker is probably the prime example of it.

'The Hudsucker Proxy' opens on 2 Sept

(Photograph omitted)