Magazine article Variety

The True Heroes of Summer Movies

Magazine article Variety

The True Heroes of Summer Movies

Article excerpt

HERE COMES SUMMER - along with a new crop of superhero movies.

And working behind the scenes to get those pictures made are the largely unsung heroes of film production: the first assistant directors without whom chaos would reign on the set and little would get done. That's because first AD's run the entire production process - handling logistics and keeping everything on schedule and, everyone hopes, on budget.

Here are three of those who rode herd on the production of the summer's most anticipated mega-budget movies:

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"

Disney / May 5

First AD: Lars P. Winther

Writer-director James Gunn is back at the helm for another space adventure with everyday nice guy and superhero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) as he discovers the true nature of his parentage.

Winther, who has multiple Marvel Studios projects under his belt, including "The Avengers" and "Ant-Man," weighs many factors when he creates the production calendar. Among them, actors' schedules, the supplying of visual effects, and set construction.

"For me, a lot of it is dictated by the actors' timetable," he says. "As much as we'd like to shoot in continuity, sometimes they're only available at certain times."

Winther notes that CG characters such as Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper, in the second film) can be shot earlier "so the VFX team can have more turnover time to create them."

Much of "Guardians 2" was filmed at Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The opening scene was scheduled on the first day of filming, with more complex sequences coming later in the shoot.

"Gunn is a very meticulous director, so everything is thoroughly planned out," Winther says. "But if we can plot it so the actors can get into the flow of their characters and story, it makes for a better experience while supporting the director's vision."

"Wonder Woman"

Warner Bros. / June 2

First AD: Tommy Gormley

For Scottish-born Gormley, a combination of factors made "Wonder Woman" particularly - challenging. "It was kind of a road movie where the action kept moving through different landscapes and places," he says. "It was also a period film, which always has its own complications. …

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