Movies

Published: Monday August 4, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday August 4, 2014 MYT 9:19:12 AM

Through wind and hail

Into The Storm puts you in the middle of all the tempestuous action.

TORNADOES are spectacular, awe-inspiring and horrific all at the same time. A fact that director Steven Quale quickly realised when he started his research for the film Into The Storm.

He also saw the potential to create massive, complex tornadoes with the kind of details and realism that hasn’t been done on film before. After all, the last memorable film featuring monstrous tornadoes was 18 years ago with Twister and the technology has advanced so much since then.

Into The Storm features four major tornadoes that hit a small town of Silverton in the United States. In this town a group of stormchasers are present to document the phenomenon.With them is scientist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies), who wonders if she is suited for the job as this is her first time out on the field.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the town is single father Gary Morris (Richard Armitage), looking for his sons after they get separated during a bout of windy chaos.

Callies – best known for her work in the popular TV series The Walking Dead and Prison Break – was the first to say yes to the project as she has always wanted to do a “big, crazy special effects movie.”

However, when she got the script, it was the story that held her attention.

In peril: Sarah Wayne Callies and Richard Armitage had to endure tonnes of water and strong gusts of wind for the filming of Into The Storm.
In peril: Sarah Wayne Callies and Richard Armitage had to endure tonnes of water and strong gusts of wind for the filming of Into The Storm.

In a transcript provided by Warner Bros. Pictures, Callies said: “It’s also a story about how people who are strangers can become almost family in the course of a single day when that day threatens all their lives and is chaotic and overwhelming. I just think there’s something really moving about that.”

She was drawn to the notion of how people react under pressurised circumstance – whether they are heroes or cowards in that instant.

Her own character is a stranger to the situation even though she is climatologist and meteorologist, who has studied the freakishly scary weather event in depth.

Only thing is, Allison is in a place where “all of a sudden these storms leap out of her textbook and into her face.”

Callies explained: “She’s had a lot of ideas and a lot of theories about weather and about the politics of weather who all of a sudden finds herself very much immersed in the practicalities of weather, which are two very different things. She’s getting her hands dirty for the first time and it’s very, very dirty.”

A daughter of two academics, Callies was intent on knowing the subject of which her character is an expert of. This led her to get a meteorology textbook, only to discover she couldn’t wrap around the physics of the events. So she reached out to a professor at a university who met her and answered all her questions.

“There’s a decent chance he’ll see the movie and as we were shooting it, one of my only goals was to make sure that he wouldn’t see the movie and think, ‘I took my time with this woman and she didn’t take it in and was a bad student.’ I didn’t want him to flunk me.”

Besides academics preparation, the 37-year-old American actress was looking forward to the stunts she was required to perform for the film.

“I studied aerial arts for three years when I was in grad school and loved it. And I’ve always wanted to do a job where I could bring some of that work in.”

She ended up doing most of the stunts except the one really dangerous stunt. “The one thing they wouldn’t let me do is the fall just because insurance companies at a certain point stand up and say, ‘You can’t drop our female lead 20 feet onto concrete. We’re not going let you do it.’ I said, ‘OK, fine.’

“Part of the thing that’s great about that kind of work is there’s just no acting involved. Somebody puts you on a wire and yanks you backwards, there’s a hundred-mile-an-hour fan and a rain tower in your face, you don’t have to act scared (laughs).

“You’re right there. You’re scared. It’s pure adrenaline. And it was fun. It was really, really fun.”

As for whether the special effects portion of the film lived up to her expectation, Callies shared that the director would have as many practical effects on the set as he could. This basically meant that fans were blowing really strong wind.

“The first time they turned it on in front of me for a scene, it blew me 20 feet off my mark. You could literally lean your full body weight into it and it would hold you up.

“And then they’d throw dirt and leaves into it so there’d be debris flying around. Then they turned the rain towers on and it certainly wasn’t comfortable, but, again, it saved us the indignity of trying to act like you’re in a tornado. You’re just there.”

Knowing this, Callies recalled that she started reading her script a little differently. “I just read the script and thought it was a great story and it wasn’t until we were actually in prep and I was breaking it down that I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m going to be soaked to the skin for 45 days out of this filming'.”

Into The Storm blows into cinemas on Aug 7.

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