When it comes to production, there are few experiences that match the excitement and intensity of pulling off an epic stunt. A big stunt is almost a microcosm of production itself—the product of weeks of preparation, boiled down to a single, all-the-marbles chance at execution, with little to no room for error.
So it’s no surprise that when it came time to shoot this sequence for the 2007 action thriller The Kingdom, produced by Scott Stuber and Michael Mann and directed by Peter Berg, “Everyone had a high level of adrenaline and anticipation, because we had planned this stunt for months.” PGA member Steve Saeta took the photo above, while serving as executive producer and production manager on the film. “The stunt sequence was filmed over multiple weekends,” Steve tells us. “The particular moment you see was the most complex stunt/action piece of the sequence. One aspect of the stunt involved an SUV doing a cannon roll. The vehicle was so heavy it couldn’t roll, so stunts and effects came up with the idea of wrapping cable multiple times around the SUV then running those lines to two water trucks for traction and torque—you can see the cables attached to the rolling SUV.”
Despite (or maybe because of) the difficulty, the feeling on set was enthusiastic. “We were confident the stunt would work,” Steve continues, “but we had to ensure each department was in sync to create seamless action coordinated with multiple cameras, including one on a moving camera car. We had been shooting for a few weeks already, so we were a well-oiled machine.” One key to keeping the crew sharp? The efficiency of Peter Berg. “Pete is a director who knows what he wants and knows how to get it,” Steve reports. “He doesn’t believe in long days; most were under 10 hours. That helped keep everyone in great spirits.”
So what happened in the moments after this spectacular shot was snapped? “First thing was the safety check: Is everyone all right? (They were!) Next it was applause, high fives and hugs.” We know the feeling; when we secured this shot for our back page, we high-fived everyone in the PGA office. Thank you Steve, for snapping that pic at the best possible moment, and for sharing it with Produced By.
We know what you’re thinking. “Best of all time? No way. I’ve got an on-set photo way better than that.” If that’s the case, we dare you to prove it. Submit it to BOSPOAT@producersguild.org. Before you submit, please review the contest rules at producersguild.org/bospoat. Because no matter how great your photo is, we have no desire to get sued over it.
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