folder Filed in Films, Writing
Pirates of the Carribbean
Pinewood Studios Set Visit
Robert Huttinger

On stage B we approach something in its center that looks like a wooden box, built on steel frames. We walk up stairs onto a patio area and see an entrance. The wood surrounding the entrance changes from being a few weeks old to seemingly hundreds of years old. Skulls and bones form ornaments surrounding the ship decks entrance. The reiling made of skeleton backbones and spines gives a chilly atmosphere. Stepping through the entrance the air inside the set feels cold as ice and all of a sudden I enter another world. A pirate ship, 17th century, seemingly what one would expect, except for the odd part here and there – impressive chandeliers made of human spine bones and hands hanging from the – imaginative ceiling – looking up gets you back into the 21st century again. Lights hanging from a construction above.

A big Kino Flo lights the round table and an electric radiator keep the journalists and the treasure maps sitting in wooden barrels next to the decks rear glass window, nicely depicting dancing skeletons and burning flames warm. It’s very cold on the set, fingers are freezing while we are waiting for the actors to arrive for the interview.

Sam Claflin, in his early twenties, who plays the role of a youthful missionary, arrives first. The actor is a young chap, cheerful, and as natural as if you just met him on a soccer field, which is where he initially came from. It seems as if he is not yet aware of where he is and why he is there, he repeatedly mentions that he deserves to be there, which is probably only to prove to himself, that anyone of the millions of other nice guys / aspiring actors could have gotten that role. He is in a state of shock, but balances it out with his nice chap approach. Wears casual striped t-shirt, cap and jacket.

The guy leaves and we are left waiting for another 20 minutes. In the meantime I explore the outside of the artificial deck built in the center of stage B.

Astrid Berges-Frisbey arrives after another long wait, both seem a bit as if they just got up, took them a while to wake them up maybe. A french girl, early twenties, grounded and nice, talking broken english, apparently she just learned the language a few months ago. Wearing only a t-shirt, jacket and jeans and although she must be tired, she gives her best to keep the journalists good company. She speaks better spanish than english, is down to earth and confident, more than sam, having played in big french films before. One can tell that she has good screen presence, her smile is magnetic tho french. She feels like a pretty and exotic fish swimming the oceans, which is exactly her role as a mermaid in the film.

Michael Singer, the head of publicity at Bruckheimer Films, is guiding us around the different sets and sound stages. We visit sets where builders still work on, sets that have been finished and are about to be taken apart, a soundstage with a one million liter tank, on the other end of the water they built a 17th century london thames setting, with stones and stairs into the water. It is warm in there, so warm the hot fog is still visible on the surface of the water. Depp and Cruz just yesterday spent the entire day in the water, filming an action scene. We move along to an outside set. Like a western town, just a few hundred meters away, they rebuilt an entire 17th century street of London, the wood again, looks hundreds of years old, every detail is meticulously thought of. This is exactly what it looked like, the only thing missing is the sounds and smells of 17th century London. Green screens on both ends of the street enable for the illusion to be perfect later on screen, as a Thames harbour complete with blue sky and ships will be projected on it.

We go to the main stage where todays filming happens, and on the way meet several of Jack Sparrow’s set clones. None of it the real Johnny Depp, but here again, the illusion is perfect and unless one stands two meters away, one can’t tell the difference from original to copy.

Extras in 17th century soldiers costumes play with their blackberries while they wait for the next scene to start. Times and epochs overlapping each other right here in this place.

On todays stage, the halls of an english palace, the food on the table is real, and one is inclined to taste some of the grilled exotic birds, a pheasant, pork, too bad I am vegetarian. The set is huge and gives enough room for dozens of people to throw chairs and draw swords, which is what todays scene is about. It smells like christmas, and so feels the excitement before we get on stage, the pyrotechnic technicians did a good job on the previous scene, with lit candles and a few gunfires.

Johnny Depps chair is closest to the exit, the director, producer and dop sit in the right corner, all surrounding the 3D camera on a crane, a setup of two Red Mysterium X digital cameras recording 4k video and a mirror separating the left eye from the right eye view.

While we sit on Johnny Depps chair, Michael Singer walks around and explains the set. We are not supposed to be there when they shoot, so we have to go back to the entrance of the soundstage, and wait in front of a 3d monitor to watch it. One of the Johnny Depp doubles is handing out flyers for his concert the next day, he is also a musician. Then Geoffrey Rush, who plays pirate Barbossa walks in, and stops to give a little interview. He is wearing full costume and make up and looks quite impressive in that. If not to say bigger than life. Then finally, the real Johnny Depp walks in, smiles and stops to greet every journalist by handshake, and gives a little interview. Impressive as ever when he is Jack Sparrow. He smiles and rolls eyes, just as the pirate character would do, one can tell, he is not far away from the role he has to play in a minute, but still, he is out of character enough to give a genuine interview. He goes on, explains why he went to the elementary school where the girl was that wrote a letter for him. He ends on his future in film as well as the future of filming in 3D.

film holllywood jerry bruckheimer johnny depp pinewood set visit