"The Marine 2": More on production and filming
Filming in Thailand
Paradise is exactly what the filmmakers found when they decided to shoot The Marine 2 in Thailand, and specifically on the southern island of Phuket, often called the "Pearl of the Andaman Sea," for its pristine white beaches and warm azure waters. The biggest challenge for filmmakers was finding a resort that would allow filmmakers to take it over and in effect, destroy it, during the busy tourist season.
"We saw so many resorts and when we told the owners, ‘We're gonna have explosions here, we have smoke going over the swimming pool while people are guests there and we were not really welcome," said Reine. "Except the Adamas Resort. We told them the same things and they said, ‘Oh, that's cool. Yeah, we want to work with you.'"
"We've had incredible cooperation from the Adamas Resort," added Lowenstein. "'Do you mind if we come in and basically blow up your resort?' is a tantalizing question and the Adamas group was fantastic. Guests had areas where they could view our filming and we've used a lot of the hotel staff as the actual staff for the five-star resort in our film, so there's been a nice synergy and cooperation in pulling this deal off."
Even after the agreement was made, the filmmakers admit they were still unsure if the reality of explosions, gunfire, debris and dead bodies floating in the pool would wear out their welcome among the honeymooners and vacationers.
"I thought, ‘Ok. We'll be kicked out after two days', but the guests and resort staff loved it!" said Reine. "They became extras in the movie, watched the filming from their balconies and on the beach, so we were very lucky."
Parts of two different locations were used to create the film's fishing village, which serves as home to the islanders and insurgents. One, the Sea Gypsi village on Panyee Island, features a series of buildings on stilts to withstand the highest tides, renowned limestone ocean cliffs and mangrove forests, providing filmmakers with a lush and picturesque backdrop. The other, Baan Bangpat, another small fishing village, provided the location for Church's scuba shack.
"It was always a dream for me to shoot a movie here," said Reine about Thailand's southern islands, and specifically Phang Nga National Park. "I came here many years ago as a tourist and I found all these beautiful places. When I read the script and was told they wanted to shoot in Thailand, I said, ‘OK, we'll do this here, we'll do that there.' And now we are shooting in those places. It's pretty cool."
Whether it was the villagers on Panyee or at Adamas, filmmakers found the Thai people extremely accommodating to their shooting -- despite the fact that they were storming through their village, destroying a good chunk of it in their path.
"We were crashing through houses and running through the village and you'd think the villagers would be upsets, but they were fantastic," said Lowenstein. "In the sequence, Joe and Damo are running and shooting at each other and Joe jumps through a window into one house and as the other guy jumps into the window, Joe jumps back out -- and this is somebody's house! The characters are jumping off their couch and onto their bed and the owners are laughing, ‘This is amazing!' They were having fun with it."
Other locations include: Hong Island in Koh Hong Krabi, with its lagoon beach and Chang Cave (Tham Chang) with its limestone mountain tunnels and series of volcanic caves.
The opening sequence, which is set in Yangon, Burma, was also filmed in the city of Pang Nga, Thailand. During the three days of filming there, Reine and his crew shot more than 180 setups in the streets and rooftops.
"I've learned a lot from Roel Reine about shooting multiple sequences at once," Lowenstein said. "We pulled off what could well be an amazing, huge budget action sequence in an incredible amount of time with a small gung-ho crew, which really fit the director's style. I think everyone's been impressed with the work ethic and what we pulled off."
Director Roel Reine: Setting the scene
For Reine, creating multiple and unique fighting sequences was only part of the challenges in making "The Marine 2." The Danish-born director, who operates the main camera in all his films, also had the challenge of working with numerous languages, shooting complex scenes in a limited time period and guiding actors and non-actors in heavy emotional and physical scenes.
Producer Lowenstein says Reine's enthusiasm is "contagious" and his tireless work ethic drives and inspired others on the set.
"The guy runs from call to wrap all day," he said. "He shoots himself, so he has the camera in his hands most of the day, so he's directing [from] behind the camera. The crew is incredibly motivated because they see this director who is racing around on the set, never sits down, and does 50 or 60 setups -- sometimes 70 or 80 setups a day -- which is unheard of. On my last film, we averaged 12 setups a day."
Roel was incredibly resourceful and always trying new things with the camera to achieve a big budget theatrical look," said Barnett. "He created a collaborative, inventive atmosphere on the set. His ideas and determination pushed everyone to work at his level, coming up with new and different ideas to pull off very complicated and extended sequences. He did several sequences in a single shot, without a hitch. It inspired everyone."
One of Reine's favorite tools for establishing a mood and shifting the rhythms on the set is creating a CD of music representing different emotional stages for the film. "I have it in my ears when I go into a scene," he said. "I believe as a director you create an environment and the actor will play on instincts: They will be the part instead of acting the part."
For The Marine 2 Reine copied these CDs and gave them to the actors and extras in the scenes "so they can be at the same emotional level. It evens out the playing field between professional actors and extras and can be particularly helpful for those who are not trained actors."
Reine also played the music on the set, especially when it he had counteract a prevailing mood or shift the tone.
"I've been in many movies and this is the first time I have encountered this," said Sahajak Boonthanakit, the Thai-American actor who portrays negotiator Makil Shoal. "He picks the right music, the right tone for the mood. It's interesting: It really gets you into it. It does. I will use this in other movies in the future."
The actors agree that the atmosphere on set was key to the swift and enjoyable filmmaking process.
"It's a fantastic set and I think it emanates from Roel," said special effects supervisor Brian Cox. "He has a great attitude. He is so easy. If we need time to set up, he'll just move onto something else and give us time. Although we are running all the time, the atmosphere on set is calm and one of the best [sets] I've been on."
For Thai actor Tom Jayavasti, who plays Damo's younger brother, Thickset, said working in Phuket helped to balance Reine and the production's turbo speed.
"The pace is really frenetic because Roel has the entire movie in his head and never stops. So, it's good to be in a peaceful place while we're working at such a frenetic pace. It really helps. Otherwise, I think we'd go crazy."
"I'll tell you, I didn't realize how mentally hard it was to be wrapped up in some of the intense and emotional scenes," said DiBiase. "It really takes you away -- it's like wrestling a couple of matches and then you're just dead. I have a newfound respect for filmmaking."
And the filmmakers have a newfound respect for WWE Superstar and actor DiBiase, his talent and work ethic.
"I would love to return Ted DiBiase to the WWE in the original condition he arrived in," said Lowenstein. "But if not, he can always stay here and make another film with me. I believe he has everything you need to be a big action star."
About the filmmakers
ROEL REINE (Director) worked as a director, writer, producer, director of photography and camera operator in his native Netherlands on a variety of television series and movies. In 2000, Reine began a new era in Dutch cinema with an English language movie, The Delivery, which was acquired by Lions Gate and sold to more than 50 countries. In the Netherlands, Reine won The Golden Calf award for Best Director for The Delivery while the film was nominated for Best Picture.
In 2005, Reine moved to Los Angeles, writing and directing such films as Pistol Whipped for Sony and the indy film, The Drifter. He has also produced Deadwater, Brutal, Robinson Crusader and Adrenaline.
CHRISTOPHER BORRELLI (Screenwriter) wrote the screenplay Whisper and has worked as the videographer of the high-speed miniatures units on the films, Armageddon and Con Air.
STEVE BARNETT (Executive Producer) is Senior Vice President, Development & Production at WWE Studios and was an executive producer of the film, 12 Rounds. Prior to joining WWE Studios, Barnett was Senior Vice President of Production and Development at Dimension Films, where his film credits include The Mist. From 2005 to 2007, he was Executive Vice President of Production for Atmosphere Entertainment, where he oversaw the smash-hit films 300 and The Spiderwick Chronicles as well as the teen comedy Full of It and George A. Romero's Land of the Dead.
Barnett joined Atmosphere Entertainment after serving as SVP of Production at Artists Production Group (APG), the film production unit for Michael Ovitz's Artists Management Group, where he built the company's film development department and managed more than 40 film projects. Other executive positions include Vice President of Production for DiNovi Pictures and V.P. of Production for Lobell/Bergman Productions. Barnett has also worked as a creative executive at Michael London and Paul Schiff's Fox-based production company, Horizon Pictures and with producer John Davis.
CHRIS LOWENSTEIN (Executive Producer) moved to Thailand in 1991 after working on Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth. In his 15 years, Lowenstein's company -- Living Films -- has become one of Thailand and South East Asia's leading film and television production companies, providing production management on a wide range of projects.
As production manager, Lowenstein's credits include the films Blackbeard, Mysterious Island, Sniper 3, Simon, and The Medallion. His producer credits include Shanghai and Bangkok Dangerous. He also enjoys a long-standing relationship with the popular Survivor series, including acting as production manager for a number of different seasons: Survivor: Africa, Survivor: Borneo, Survivor: Cook Islands, Survivor: Fiji, Survivor: Samoa, Survivor: Thailand, etc.
CHRIS FENTON (Executive Producer) was executive producer on the films, Duress and Whisper, co-executive producer Foreign Exchange and co-producer on the films, Waiting and it sequel, Still Waiting. Fenton's partner, CHRIS COWLES has executive produced Duress.
JOOST VAN STARRENBURG (Director of Photography) has served as the cinematographer for a number of films and television series including Bodega, Diggity: A Home at Last, Broos, The Mad Tenniscap, The Four A.M. Feed and George and the Dragon.
SUCHARTANUN ‘KAI' KULADEE (Production Designer) was art director on the film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Rambo and The Beach. He has also served as assistant art director on The Phantom and Operation Dumbo Drop; production designer on Blackbeard and Sniper 3; and, art department coordinator on Heaven & Earth.
BRIAN COX (SFX Supervisor) enjoys a long list of feature film credits as special effects supervisor and coordinator including the genre-changing action classic, The Matrix, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Dead Calm, Sniper, Heaven & Earth, Operation Dumbo Drop, The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black, Mission Impossible II, Moulin Rouge! Artificial Intelligence: AI, Scooby Doo, The Great Raid, Fool's Gold, and Australia.
KAWEE "SENG" SIRIKANERAT (Stunt coordinator) has served as stunt coordinator on a number of films in Thailand, including Bangkok Dangerous, Rambo, Blackbeard, The Beach, Mysterious Island, Alexander and Sniper 3. He has also served as stunt coordinator and stunt man on A Bright Shining Lie, and on a couple of the Street Fighter titles, including Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and Street Fighter: The Battle of Shadaloo.
DICKEY BEER (Second Unit Director) has worked as a second unit director, stunt coordinator and stunt man on a variety of films. Recent credits as stunt coordinator include Black Dawn, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Tomorrow Never Dies, My Blue Heaven, and Men Are Dogs.
Beer did double-duty as stunt coordinator and second unit director on the recent films Primal and The Keeper and served as second unit director on Against the Dark, Pistol Whipped, and Urban Justice. As a stunt man, Beer's dozens of credits include Daylight, Rob Roy, Double Impact, Cover Up, Total Recall, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Rambo III and Empire of the Sun.