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Production notes, photos and promotional video © 2007 New Line Cinema
production notes
aboutsynopsis, notes, interviews and articles
Technical Advisor Peter Weireter

Technical Advisor Peter Weireter

The filmmakers also took advantage of technical advisor Peter Weireter, a chief hostage negotiator with the Los Angeles Police Department, and his colleague Sgt. Lou Reyes,  who helped with several of the opening scenes. While the filmmakers did take some license, Hoblit is quick to point out that bending some rules can work, but only if filmmakers take care not to go so far as to do a disservice to the profession being depicted on screen, which in the end, does an even greater disservice to the script.

A major focal point in the film is the Rube Goldberg-like machines, big and small, which adorn Ted Crawford's home and office. These brass and wood pieces serve as dramatic metaphors for the story as well as for the intricate workings of the sociopath's diabolical mind.

Writer Glenn Gers came upon the idea of using a rolling ball machine in the story while playing with his five-year-old son who likes marble mazes. The marbles roll through a labyrinth of confusing tracks only to come out in unexpected places.

According to several versions of Webster's dictionary, a Rube Goldberg machine is a device that "accomplishes by complex means what seemingly could be done simply;" or something"having a fantastically complicated, improvised appearance."

"These toys, along with the stunning piece of machinery that's Crawford's GT Porsche,even his house, they are all reflections of his personality and his inner wiring," agrees Gregory Hoblit, likening Crawford to a surgeon or Swiss watch maker.

On the written page, the mention of a Rube Goldberg-like device requires the reader to call upon a vivid imagination, but it is an entirely more complicated endeavor to recreate such an apparatus for practical use. No computerized visual effects here.

"It's always best when you can find an external sign to show the inner person," says Gers, "but when I wrote the paragraph, I never really imagined the complex machine they would have to build. When I saw it on stage, I kept apologizing to the guys who had to build it," he laughs.

Producer Charles Weinstock and production designer Paul Eads began the search for any kind of gadget that might fill the bill by scouring the Internet. To their amazement, they discovered a variety of clubs and rabid fans all over the world whose hobby it is to design and build their own adaptations on Goldberg's theme.

After long examination and discussion, the filmmakers settled on using Dutch artist Mark Bishoff's sculptures as Crawford's work. It had taken Bischoff, a music teacher, over ten years of loving labor to complete his intricate rolling ball machine.

"His work was stupefying," says Hoblit. "To think he worked after giving cello lessons all day to create the caliber of piece he did, with the size of the tracks, the quality of the wood, the complexity of the pieces, all of us sat in my office, looking at his video, oohing and aahing. But then the question became `how are we going to get something that bigout of his basement and across the Atlantic?'"

"We asked him to send us some samples of the rings, the balls, anything to use as a template," recalls Weinstock. "He acted as a consultant through the manufacturing and assembly process. Whenever we had questions, he was there to help. "

The filmmakers and Bischoff reached an agreement in which Bischoff would furnish the movie with his designs in order to construct a smaller version of his much-admired piece.The artist even sent the production a small table-top piece to borrow for the shoot.

NEXT
Special effects coordinator Lars Anderson

Executive producer Hawk Koch hired special effects coordinator Lars Anderson to build several configurations of Bischoff's designs.

 
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