Jung Byung-gil who helmed the 2017 actioner The Villainess, which scores 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and is said to have “redefined boundaries for the female action hero”, is the man behind the film Carter.
Like that film where Jung used long takes to unfold the action, he presents single-take filming method for the Netflix film, with the camera in constant motion to capture the protagonist’s every movement.
He said at a press conference that he chose this format to convey the urgency of each situation and desperation felt by the characters.
“With one-take filming, if something goes wrong in the middle, you have to go all the way back and do it all over again. That takes a lot of time and effort,” Jung explained of the challenge filming this way.
Besides hand-to-hand combat and gun-fight scenes set in a room or in a building, a lot of the brawls happen on moving vehicles like within vans, motorcycles, helicopters, trains and on a plane.
And if you thought they were all green screen, Jung set the record straight: “We did it in live action.”
Yes, even the one involving the characters jumping out of a plane without a parachute, and another one where Carter jumps between a helicopter and a train.
Jung elaborated: “These sequences are quite short (in the film), but we took days to shoot them.
“For the skydiving scene, we only had about 30 seconds to shoot the free-falling sequence. So, we had to do it 10 times which still translates to about 400 seconds (on film).”
(A search on Google will tell you that if you fall from a plane at 6.7km up, you’ve got roughly about two minutes before you hit the ground.)
Jung continued: “I would say the real time live shooting of the skydiving action sequence was the biggest challenge.
“As for the helicopter scene, we took 10 days to shoot. We had to build a life-size helicopter, and we had to have equipment that was specifically built for this scene. There was a lot of trial and error.
“We faced some limitations, and there were some equipment problems that we ran into during shooting. In the past, I used to stress out about the difficulties that I came across on set but I think I was in a different mindset for Carter.
“Every challenge we came to face, I thought ‘OK, this is probably going to make our film even better’, as we’d have to come up with a fresh angle.”
According to Jung, he started writing the script a decade ago. He only completed it after eight years.
“After I was done with the script, I showed it to John Wick director Chad Stahelski. And he said that he really liked it, but he asked me, ‘But, how are you going to film this?’ I remember that question very well,” recalled Jung.
Once he had figured out how to shoot all the scenes he’d dreamed up for Carter, Jung’s focus shifted to making everything real and fast-paced.
“I didn’t want the audience to be bored even once while watching the film,” reasoned Jung.