The Story About Making T2
By: Canal+ D.A.
Although there had been talk about a sequel immediately after the run-away success of 'The Terminator' in 1984, there were many unresolved issues between the various co-owners of the property that prevented James Cameron from continuing the story of Sarah and John Connor and their battle against the Machines.
Cameron had come up with the core idea for the sequel - the concept of a terminator programmed to protect John Connor as a boy - soon after the first film; it was natural as both a narrative and thematic progression to elaborate on the idea that technology itself is amoral and that only its use for good or evil givesit any moral value. The secondary idea of a shape-changing liquid metal villian, too, was an old concept of Cameron's; in fact, he had originally wanted to incorporate it into the first Terminator film, but realized that it was not technically possible to do the idea justice at that time. It would be six years before both studio logistics and the technology would reach a point where a sequel was possible.
It was Mario Kassar of Carolco Pictures who finally broke the legal gridlock in 1990, securing the rights to the sequel and resolving the issues that had held the Terminator in suspended animation. The timing was fortuitous: Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Linda Hamilton were all available and willing to do the sequel; the idea of the unstoppable killing machine now reprogrammed to protect dovetailed perfectly with Schwarzenegger's rise as a heroic superstar in the years since the first film; and Cameron's positive experience with computer graphics on the The Abyss convinced him that his liquid metal villian was now possible to realize. Working with co-writer and longtime friend William Wisher - who co-authored the novelization of The Terminator with Randall Frakes and provided some additional dialogue for the first film - Cameron completed the first draft of 140 pages on May 10, 1990. Considered a work-in-progress, this draft contained a considerable longer future war sequence at the beginning of the film where John defeats Skynet, breaks into the time-displacement lab, and sends young Kyle Reese - bearing a mission and a message for Sarah - through time. Afterwards, John discovers a cold-storage room filled with racks of unactivated terminators. "In this draft, we put in every possible scene we wanted to see, even though we knew some of them would be cut for time and money," recalls Cameron. "Although we loved these scenes because they not only gave us a chance to show what was only referred to in the first film - namely, the fall of Skynet and the time displacement equipment - we knew that this was all essentialy backstory, and we wantedto get to the main story in the present-day as soon as possible and hit the ground running." The first shooting draft, pared down to 124 pages, was distributed to cast and crew on July 15. The clock had started ticking.
With Schwarzenegger and Hamilton reprising their roles from the first film, the main task was to find actorsto play T-1000 and its quarry, young John Connor. After anationwide search, 12-year old Eddie Furlong, with no prior acting expirience but just the right look and manner, was plucked off the streets of Pasadena, California, by castingdirector Mali Finn and cast as John. For the T-1000, Cameron wanted a look that was strikingly different from Schwarzenegger's to reflect the newer, sleeker model terminator; "I wanted someone who was extremely fast and agile. If the T-800 series can be compared to a human Panzer tank, then T-1000 series is a Porsche." He found that look in Robert Patrick, whose previous credits included 'Die Hard 2'. Seasoned veteran Joe Morton, known for his work in 'The Brother from Another Planet' and the TV series 'Equal Justice', was picked up to play the pivotal role of Miles Dyson, the Cyberdyne scientist forced to face up to the realities of his research. Earl Boen returned once again to play Sarah's slimy psychiatrist nemesis, Dr. Silberman. Jenette Goldstein, who played the thugh Marine Vasquez in 'Aliens', was cast in a small role as John's foster mother, Janelle, and Michael Biehn, whose character Kyle Reese was killed off in the first film, was set to do a cameo appearance in a dream sequence ultimately cut from the final film. To show the T-1000's ability to mimic other people without having to resort to split-screen effects, twins Don and Dan Stanton were cast as Lewis the Guard and his T-1000 doppelganger, and Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie was brought in for a day's shooting in the steel mill to shoe two Sarah Connors in the same shot!
Based in a rented office building in North Hollywood under the name of T2 Productions, Cameron and his co-producers Stephanie Austin and B.J. Rack began to assemble a crew that was able to tackle the ambitious $80 milion-plus production. 'Terminator' veteran Adam Greenberg, fresh from his work on 'Ghost', returned as director of photography, while Joseph Nemec III, art director of 'The Abyss', took on the role of production designer. Adding to the challenge of the complex script was an impossibly accelerated production schedule dictated by the locked release date: the film had to go from shooting draft to finished film in just a year in order to make its July 4th weekend opening in 1991. The production had to be planned out like a military operation; with so many huge setpieces, effects gags and locations that needed to work flawlessly together; careful research into permits, feasibility and availability was crucial. The production team visited several working and non-working steel mills around the country to secure a usable location for the film's climax. When the ideal location was found in Fontana, California, weeks of negotiation were needed to secure the timely use of the dormant facility because the entire mill was scheduled to be dismantled and shipped to China by its new owners. Finding a suitable building exterior for Cyberdyne proved difficult as well, for few building owners (or local officials) were eafer to let their property be used for some of the biggest police shootouts, helicopter stunts, and explosions in cinematic history. An empty office building was finally located in an industrial park in Freemont, California, whose owners were willing to rent it out to the production ( in fact, they had a barbecue party on the roof of a neighboring buildings of the night of the big explosion scene.). At the same time, a team of illustrators - many of them 'Abyss' alums - began designing the film's visuala and storyboarding the complex action and effects sequences, with special emphasis on the look of the T-1000 in its various incarnations. Hundreds of drawings were generated and scenned into an Apple Macintosh computer for processing and replication; phonebook-sized binders of detailed storyboards were sent out to a number od special effects companies for bidding. Everything began falling into place, and a few days before filming commenced, Cameron gathered his primary crew together for a ten-hour meeting to go over the entire show in detail; it was only then that some of the crew truly realized the magnitude and scope of the project. And the clock ticked on...
Shooting began out in the Palmdale desert on October 9, 1990, and continued through April 4, 1991, at locations up and down the state of California. From flood control channels all over the San Francisco Valley to the dormat Lakeview Terrace Medical Centar and a crowed shopping mall in Santa Monica, the production team staged spectacular chase sequences and stunts, with the main crew at one point growing to over 200 people. Working in a conjunction with stunt coordinators Joel Kramer and Gary Davis, special effects coordinator Tommy Fisher and his team provided hundreds of practical,on-set effects ranging from the thousands of traditional squib hits and smaller explosions effects to stages filled with fire for the nuclear nightmare. The empty two-story office building in Freemont was given a third-floor facade and a complete lobby interior by the art department, and Fisher's team safely blew out the entire second floor using hundreds of gallons of gasoline carefully set in a series of 55-gallon drums backed with sandbags. On the Terminal Island Freeway in Long Beach, Adam Greenberg's crew laid out ten milesof electric cable to light a night chase sequence that involved elaborate vwhicle rigs and full-scale helicopter crash. At the defunct mill location in Fontana, the combined talents of the lighting, floor effects and art departments created the illusion of a fiery, functioning steel foundry by building and lighting huge molten steel pours and other setpieces augmented with sparks, smoke, steam, and fire effects. On a soundstage in Valencia, the interior of the Cyberdyne lab was built, detailed, and summarily riddled with gunfire and explosions. Security and safety were the primary concerns at every location; fire marshals, medics, and police officers stood by, ready to assist if necessary.
Concurrent with the main shoot, four major visual effects houses and several smaller ones worked in conjunction with every department on the production to create over 300 optical and mechanical effects shots for the film, using everything from stete-of-the-art computer-generated imagery to the time-proven traditions of miniatures, opticals and process photography. Each effects company brought its own brand of movie magic to the film: Video Image generated the dozen TermoVision shots representing Terminator's infrared point of view by scanning live action footage into a computer; altering the colors and overlaying flashing graphics, while Pacific Data Images used digital image processing to paint out support wires, flop text-laden images and remove negative scratches.
Fantasy II Film Effects, under 'Terminator' veteran Gene Warren, again took on the task of realizing the future war for the opening sequence, embellishing it with bigger, metal-plated miniatures and more complex opticals. In addition to creating optical lightning and lasers for the Terminator arrival sequence and future war, Fantasy II also created shots for the tanker truck rollover and crash into the steel mill using a thirteen-foot-long truck model on a large miniature set, with the resulting footage cut in seamlessly with the full-scale stunts and practical effects.
4-Ward Production and its two-time Oscar®-winning team of Robert and Dennis Skotak created a convincing depiction of a nuclear blast devastating Los Angeles; after studying hours of actual nuclear test footage, the Skotaks built dozens of large-scale miniatures buildings and blew them away using air mortars, and for a wide-angle shot for the nuclear blast wave rippling across the city, 4-Ward created a large, layered painting of the city augmented with a radiating blast dome and disintegrating buildings created with an Apple Macintosh program called Electric Image. 4-Ward Production also created contributed a number of shots showing molten steel spiling out of a trough onta the floor, and used real mercury directed with blowdryers to create the eerie shots of the shattered T-1000 pieces melting into droplets and running back together.
But it was Industrial Light and Magic and Stan Winston Studios that had the greatest challenge: to bring to life the T-1000 through a seamless blend of Robert Patrick's performance, computer graphics imagery, and a slew of mechanical prosthetics and articulated puppets. With the successful realization of the character so integral to the story, both companies were hired early so that thay could coordinate their efforts with the production; much of shooting schedule was influenced by the effects work, designed to accommodate the computer graphics shots first in order to give ILM the necessary lead time to do the T-1000 shots.
Under the effects supervision of multiple Oscar®-winner Dennis Muren, ILM created computer-generated images and utilized digital image-processing techniques to create the 'morphing' effects of the T-1000, using the combined talents of dozens of animators, computer scientists, artists and technicians working for more than half a year; their tools included over thirty Silicon Graphics computers using proprietary software developed by ILM for the production, as well as several Apple Macintosh computers and a Cyberware digitization system, which could scan actor's faces with a laser to produce three-dimensional data so that they could be manipulated in the computer. Live-action footage was scanned into the computer frame-by-frame at high-resolution, then augmented with wholly computer-generated objects. The T-1000's chrome forms were modeled and animated in three dimensions based on motion studies of the real actor, and were carefully matched for position, motion and lighting to the scenes in which they appeared, right down to having the correct reflections ot their surroundings. Some shots required hand-painted animation and frame-by-frame touch-up in the computer, and many of them employed software that allowed the animator to spatially distort live action and computer -generated imagery.
Blending in seamlessly with the computer graphics shots were hundreds of mechanical, prosthetic, makeup and puppet effects designed and created by Stan Winston and his team of artists, sculptors, technicians, and puppeteers. To realize on-set T-1000's liquid metal and shape-changing abiliites, Winston built numerous articulated prosthetic pieces which were attached to actor Robert Patrick, including arms and fingers transformed into spikes, hooks and blades. For T-1000 bullet wounds, Winston's team created a series of rubber 'shotgun shirts' with spring-loaded mechanisms concealing pieces of chromed foam rubber that would snap open instantaneoously to create the illusion that a chrome 'hole' had suddenly appeared. Winston also devised deveral wholly-articulated puppets to show to T-1000's head and body blown apart during the course of the film. These articulated puppets - with such nicknames as 'sauce head', 'donut head' and 'pretzel man' - were brought to life via joystick cable controllers, external rod actuators and radio control devices, and had to perform on set, interacting with and often matching the performances of the real actors.
For other scenes in film, Winston also built more than twenty partial and full-body Terminator puppets, including a full-size articulatedwalking puppet to receive bullet hits on face at Cyberdyne and a variety of heads with articulated movements to allow Cameron the greatest flexibility in showing Terminator getting pummeled by the T-1000. Refining his techniques from the first film, Winston created multiayered, seamless makeup appliances for Arnold to create the illusion of metal underneath the skin, and built new and more sophisticated full-scale endoskeletons carrying battle rifles for the future war sequence. For Sarah's nuclear nightmare, Winston's team created life-size articulated puppets of Linda Hamilton and several children to be burned and blasted by the nuclear fire, including figures to blow away like ash and one Sarah puppet whose flesh is literally blown off its bones. In all, over 1000 molds and core pieces were created to realize the hundreds of prosthetic and animatronic gags in the film.
Even while camera were rolling, the editorial departmant began compiling and cutting together the nearly one million feet of footage. With the July 3rd release date always looming, Cameron worked with three seperate editing teams, headed up by 'Abyss' co-editor Conrad Buff, 'Terminator' editor Mark Goldblatt and Richard Harris. Sarah's first dream sequences featuring Kyle Reese and a garage surgery scene involving Terminator's brain chip were cut from the film for time and pacing, as was an epilogue involving an older Sarah reminiscing in a brighter future; other minor scenes were omitted and major scenes were trimmed in order to focus and tighten the story to its final release length of two hours and sixteen minutes. Composer Brad Fiedel returned to provide a lean and powerful electronic score, incorporating themes from his original 'Terminator' score for musical continuity. With the picture locked, the final lap of the race began in earnest as Cameron and editorial staff move up north to Skywalker Sound, where sound designer Gary Rydstrom and sound supervisor Gloria Borders were recording the sound of dog foof oozing out of cans and slammin microphones into buckets of yogurt to create the sound effects of T-1000's morphing and taking the bullet hits. Once the dozens of music, dialogue and sound effects tracks were edited, Rystrom and fellow sound mixers Gary Summers and Tom Johnson added cannon shots blasts and blended lion growls into the roars of car engines on the mixing stage, completing the final soundtrack for the film in a record four weeks' time. Distributor TriStar Pictures struck over 2300 70mm and 35mm prints of the film in a number of different sound formats, from 6-track magnetic and Dolby SR optical to Cinema Digital Sound.
Since 'T2' was one of the most long-awaited and aticipated films in years, a very specific marketing strategy was crucial. It was decided to run the campaign in three different phases; the first was to keep the idea that Terminator was a good guy under wraps for as long as possible; the second was to reveal that there were two terminators in the film, one goog and one bad; and the third and final phase was to confirm the growing rumors that Schwarzenegger was indeed the good terminator. The film posters again concentrated on a singular, strong image of Schwarzenegger as Terminator on a motorcycle, giving no clue to the storyline, so that even when people thought they knew all the twists, there were still some suprises.
Product licensing based on the film was carefully monitored both before and after the film's release to insure integrity and quality; every licensing concept had to be approved throuht director Cameron's company Lightstorm Entertainment. These included a novelization by Randall Frakes, a Marvel Comics adaptation, an entire Kenner toy line, and a series of cups, pins, trading cards, stickers, model kits, books, jackets, T-shirts and posters, all timed to the release. Arcade leader Williams/Bally/Midway not only created a hit 'T2' pinball games with digitized voices and sound effects from the film, but created a ground-breaking video arcade game by digitizing video footage shot specifically for the games concurrently with the production in order to obtain a feel and look true to the film. A Terminator convention held at Los Angeles Stouffer Concourse Hotel on June 30th prior to the film's release had a massive turnout, and its 'T2' prop auction raised money for the Special Olympics. The Official 'T2' Fan Club began to grow even prior to the film's release, topping 5000 members. Superstar rock band Guns 'N' Roses' song "You could be mine" featured in the film, went to the top of the charts with a hit video incorporating 'T2' footage. 'T2' was everywhere, building a frenzy on interest.
The strategy worked like a charm: the film opened on July 3, 1991, to record-breaking box office and critical raves, garnering over $200 milion overseas and breaking box office worldwide. The video release of the film aslo broke records when it came out as a rental title in December of 1991, with 750 000 cassettes presold to video stores and excellent laserdisc sales. In addition to box office, the film gained an unprecedented amount of respect not only in Hollywood, but in other areas as well; the film's script was awarded the first Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Screenwriting by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and members of federal nuclear testing labs unofficially declared T2's nuclear nightmare scene one of the most accurate depictions of a nuclear blast ever created for the screen. On March 30, 1992, T2 received four Academy Awards®, the second-higest number of awards given to any single film that year. In addition to its Oscars® for Best Make-up, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects, the film won nominations for its film editing and cinematography. The film also received numerous other awards, ranging from the Saturn Awards to the People's Choice and MTV Movie Awards. The film's popularity continued to grow, as did the public's (and the film industry's) interest in its trend-setting special effects. Morphing became the rage in Hollywood as other filmmakers saw T2 and realized the pontential of computer graphics. Long after the marketing blitz and awards recognition, T2 continues to stand on its own not only as sheer entertainment, but as one of the breakthrough films of the decade.
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