Angel Has Fallen is out now on DVD and Digital for mass consumption, and to celebrate this, I had a chance to speak with Martin Pedreira, who worked on the film in the VFX department. In our discussions, we of course, discussed the movie, but we also were able to take detours into his work on Game of Thrones, and his career as a whole!
Again, Angel Has Fallen is out on DVD and Digital now!
LRM Online: Okay, so let’s get started. I mean, great effects when it comes to Angel has Fallen, but can you share which visual effects you were in particularly involved?
Pedreira: Well, we were involved in the studio I work for in Italy called Alps VFX, that’s the name of the studio. We were involved in a sequence where, well of course the bad guys are attacking the good guys. They are in a mall area and there is ton of shootings and there’s a chase and then there’s some buildings collapsing and bombs firing and I don’t want to spoil anything, but yeah, it’s a very intense, very action sequence, the one that we were in charge of.
LRM Online: Were you by any chance involved in there was a building to not say much, a building that did have an explosion and collapsed. Were you involved in that one in particular?
Pedreira: We were most mostly involved in the whole sequence. The thing is that you have lots of explosions, let’s say. And the thing we had to do basically it was like, because this was film and of course nothing was exploding and there was a bright daylight. So we basically have to achieve this sensation during the whole sequence that the whole area has been under attack, so there’s smoke and fog and dust and everything looks like all the action is happening and the whole thing is like a war zone. So that’s exactly the involvement that we have to do for the film.
LRM Online: In that case, speaking of explosions, then there was the one that kind of caught my attention where there’s some explosions in a forest. I mean right away I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, a forest fire,” which in California, here in LA we’ve experienced so much. That’s the first thing that crossed my mind. But how did you work in that effects?
Pedreira: Well actually that, it’s very important when they were on set, not us, but the filmmakers they have to achieve a way that we can add all these effects, all these fire and all these explosions in such a way that you will believe this is happening. And in such an environment like a forest, it’s very, very complicated to keep that. So in that case you really need a lot of support from what it’s been done in camera on set. So if that’s properly planned and everything is executed well like it was, then that stuff gets handed to us. And then we started saying, “Okay, or how many explosions, how much fire,” because you have to measure and you cannot go overboard and you have to make it look real at the end of the day. So that’s a very, very technical approach, but that’s artistic in some way.
LRM Online: There was another scene where you had consecutive explosions on, well not trying to give away, but when the part where it’s in the basement and saying you have all these explosions going consecutively, how do you work with that? How do you make them all look different? Cause you have to make it look different. It’s the different parts of the basement sort of thing. So how do you do that?
Pedreira: Well actually let’s say the method is always the same. It’s important, like I said, it depends on the material we get from, from the set. So what was done on set some explosions on set, some practical effects. And the thing when you get this material that basically states how the effect that you are going to add is going to look. So when they have all these different locations and they have different practical effects and different lights setups, then we basically adapt our effects and our explosions or dust, debris, whatever. We adapted to that. So that’s our specifical work or my work is composite or it’s like you have to believe that what’s happening, it’s happening there, so I cannot use the same or I cannot just copy paste a setup. So I have to adapt every shot, every moment. I have to adapt the effect to the environment and what of course at what is happening on camera. And so that’s basically how you achieve naturally that everything looks diverse or real, you know?
LRM Online: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So for opening for this film, which it’s on the trailer, so not ruining anything, you have the drone attack. That was pretty a great opening. How was that achieved and were you involved in the part of with the drones…
Pedreira: No, not so much. But what I can tell you from what I know, because every studio has its own part to work on. But what I can tell you about this opening sequence, which is actually really, really nice. There was a lot of practical effects on camera and the whole thing was very much planned with a lot of time in advance. So I think on the production and director, they all knew how they wanted stuff to happen and once they feel they make a rough edit, of that sequence. And then when you see that sequence then you get a grasp of how fast and how intense things are going to be. In that particular sequence, well I think it was all the planning and then how they edited everything together. So then you get all these crazy drones flying and all of these explosions at somewhere done in camera actually. So when you get this sort of blend of visual effects, digital visual effects and special effects, that’s how you get such an opening to look so good.
LRM Online: Okay. So what attracted you to work on this film in particular? I mean, I know you work with a production company, but what attracted you to working with this film?
Pedreira: The truth is it’s always tricky. Sometimes me in particular as a visual effects artist, you really don’t choose. Sometimes you do choose because you might, because we are all freelancers, or we work for a limited amount of time per project and particular When Angel has Fallen actually kind of fall into my desk you would say. And I was in between projects, so when I got offered to work for Alps VFX in Italy, was basically kind of a mixture of, it was fitting on my agenda, it was great because this year I work mostly in Game of Thrones at the end of the year, the end of season. And then as a special effects artist, you always want to do movies. It’s the thing that keeps you pushing yourself.
And when I got the possibility to work Angel has Fallen, knowing they have the fame, and Gerald Butler, the cast is a really interesting project. So you really don’t say no. You don’t choose it because you get offered to work on, but the thing you cannot say “no”, you know what I mean?
LRM Online: Right-
Pedreira: So I think it’s great when all of this, sometimes this stuff happens and one gets the opportunity to work in really nice, interesting action backed films.
LRM Online: So you’d touched Game of Thrones. I mean millions of people watched it. What was it like to even know that you were part of it? The enjoyment of being involved in it?
Pedreira: Well, I can tell you it’s crazy. Like the moment I had to move to Frankfurt for six months to work on it. And the moment that you sit and you start a new shot, as a compositing artist and then you go and grab a dragon, and you don’t grab just a dragon, you would have to draw one. The dragon. And then I have Jon Snow on my monitor and I know I have to achieve this crazy looking scene that’s going to be fire and snow and effects and stuff, it’s incredible. I mean, I’m a fan of Game of Thrones myself, and to be able to work on this, it doesn’t feel real and you are there, you are sitting and you have all this stuff in your monitor and you’re like, “How the hell did I got here?” You know?
So, at the end of the day, it’s amazing because all your friends, all your family, they are super proud. Everybody’s texting you. And in this particular case they were all blaming me for how it went. And I’m like, I just did some dragons. Lifting my arms, “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me.” So yeah, I mean it’s amazing. It’s amazing when you get to work on something you’re a fan of. And of course I like Hollywood films, so every Hollywood film I work for was also really, very, very incredible experience to say, “Wow, yeah, I just did that. You saw it, you know?”
LRM Online: So yeah. So if you don’t mind me asking, what specifically did you work on for Game of Thrones?
Pedreira: Well, in Game of Thrones, I work in the last two seasons. In the previous season I work in episode five and six when Jon Snow meets Drogon. I hope I’m not spoiling anyone that lives in another planet.
LRM Online: No.
Pedreira: So all the sequence was made in Frankfurt by, of course, not only me, a team of special effects artists, great people, very international, there were also Mexican, Spanish people, besides the other friends. And then in this year, and last year we did the final season and we work on the final sequence, the final final sequence, where Jon Snow and Drogon and some stuff happens because now I feel like I might spoil someone. But let’s say in the very most epic moment of the last episode you have Drogon and Jon Snow and some stuff happens and all these sequence was made by us.
LRM Online: So let’s talk about you. What made you choose in your career? Why visual effects? Is that where you started or you just happened to be led to it?
Pedreira: It’s interesting because I always knew since I was a kid because of my dad is a graphic designer. So you get this inspiration kind of when you’re a child. And then I always loved movies of course. And then I think there was some movies that really, really make a statement in my mind. Like the first Jurassic Park or Terminator 2. You see stuff that you are like, “what? How the hell does this…how am I looking at this looks real?”
And I always knew I wanted to do computer graphics. Actually I always wanted to work in the video game industry. But then I started to study animation and because I was studying animation, I started to work in that. And because I was working on that every now and then I got to do some like very little visual effects for Argentinian TV series.
And then when I was doing that, I was blending stuff to it in the computer and making them look real. Then I found myself doing it for hours. I didn’t want to go home. I just wanted to make it look more real and that told me, “Whoa, this is my thing.” And then I did a course of visual effects. And after that I went for it and it came for me. So I started to work in advertising and from advertising into movies and from Buenos Aires five years ago to Europe, to Germany. And since I’m here, I got the incredible luck of working in the second Avengers movie was my first movie here in Europe. And then came Captain America 3, and then came Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and then it was Black Panther, and then it was Game of Thrones and Westworld and Ant Man and the Wasp, and another film and then Angel has Fallen. And that’s how it’s going, one thing after another one and then I’m just here.
LRM Online: That’s great. And then just out of curiosity, you mentioned Terminator. What did you think of the visual effects for Terminator? The last one? Dark Fate.
Pedreira: I want to know how they how they did it, because I can spend a week trying to do something. And we are how much, 30 years later, this was 25 years, 27 years ago. And with all the computers and the graphical processors and all this stuff and all the incredible tools we have. Because I worked with the state of the art, blah, blah, blah. And I can spend two weeks trying to achieve something, and then I think, “How the hell did these people did that with the computers back in the day?” You know, it’s impossible. I really cannot be used to this day. I’m amazed to every possible level to know how the hell did they achieve to make that with the technology of that time. It blows my mind.
LRM Online: So you’re working on Godzilla?
Pedreira: I did work on Godzilla.
LRM Online: You did already. Anything you can tell us of what you worked on for that?
Pedreira: Well, that was done in Munich. It was also very, very complex sequence. You have some monster awakening and there is a cave and everything’s starting to collapse. So that was some intense couple of months. Also completely different tasks, completely different themes, completely different to everything I did for Angel has Fallen, and of course some other projects. But that was actually very, very, very hard one to pull off. Yes.
LRM Online: Okay. We will have to check it out.
Pedreira: You will have to check it out. Yeah.
LRM Online: Okay.
Pedreira: Don’t forget to check out Angel Has Fallen, which is already out Blu-ray and DVD and on the 26th of November, you will get it on demand and on Digital.
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