Art & Architecture + [Sanctum exclusive]

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Sanctum

Sanctum

It is the footage the whole world has been waiting to see and breathtaking scenes from James Cameron’s Sanctum were shown exclusively to delegates at the Australian International Movie Convention last Wednesday. The films star Rhys Wakefield and producer Andrew Wight presented the three full scenes, and one package reel, in 3D.

The first clip showed Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd’s character flying a helicopter to the opening of the main cave system, which they dive in the film. The coast has never looked so good, with the footage showing the Broadwater and Gold Coast Hinterland in breathtaking 3D, including the Cedar Creek Falls on Tamborine Mountain. The film’s executive producer James Cameron gave an introduction to the scenes via videolink and said he thinks the use of 3D technology will `create a great sense of Claustrophobia’. He also thanked the Australian industry for supporting the film so far.

Former Home & Away actor Rhys Wakefield plays one of the central characters in the film, Josh, who is reluctantly taken on a cave diving expedition by his estranged father Frank, played by Richard Roxburgh. However, as the team of divers begins their journey through the unexplored cave, a freak storm blocks the exit, trapping them below and forcing them to find another way out. The story is based on the real life experience of producer and writer Andrew Wight, who has worked with Cameron previously on several films.

Wakefield (below) has just returned from working in LA and when asked if he could be heading on the same trajectory as Sam Worthington after he filmed Avatar with Cameron, he said he would wait and see. “It’s bizarre, I still feel very disconnected from the whole scene in LA,” he said. “Even seeing James Cameron just up there (on screen), it’s kind of surreal, I’m watching him going that’s the king. I feel fantastic to be a part of it, it’s such a great script and you only have to spend five minutes with Andrew Wight and his incredible story and the experiences that he’s witnessed first hand... I feel like the story is in really great hands. And the LA thing I guess will happen when it happens.”

The second scene showed the film’s protagonists diving inside the cave system, scaling rock faces and abseiling into the depths. Wight said most of the cave scenes were created in Warner Roadshow Studios, although some were filmed in real caves. “It’s a very ambitious film to make,” he said. “For a $25m (AUS) budget, or there abouts, to go into this alien environment which is actually here on Earth in these cave systems which have flying water, fast moving currents, underground rivers and high-tech diving equipment . . .it was on a fairly grand scale. It was difficult to make in the respect that there were a lot of physical challenges. More specifically for the actors like Rhys who had no background in doing their own stunts or doing underwater work. They have done it so well.”

Wakefield said he had to undergo `a lot of physical preparation’ for the role. “The character himself starts out kind of juvenile and he’s forced to grow up through this heightened sense of reality where its do or die, sink or swim, and it wasn’t dissimilar to the actual experience to be honest,” he said. “I had to learn to scuba dive, rock climb, I was doing boxing and fighting. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of pressure, but I think we all created something that is worth a watch.”

Cameron said one of his goals with the film was to prove that you `didn’t have to have a $100m budget’ to make an excellent 3D film. The third scene screened was the most suspenseful and featured the characters trying to survive amidst the flooding caves. The package reel showed clips of footage from the entire film including fight scenes, rock climbing, explosions, underwater actions and what, for the most part, looks like an intense and thrilling ride. Sanctum was filmed on the coast earlier this year and at Warner Roadshow Studios. Local director Alister Grierson is at the helm and said he is currently putting the `final touches’ on the film during post-production in Melbourne.

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