DIRECTOR Andrew Davis jokes that filming the elaborate train derailment scene in the 1993 hit "The Fugitive" was a walk in the park compared with shooting the ocean rescue sequences in his latest film, "The Guardian."
"We just bought a train and pushed it from behind and knocked it off the tracks," he says.
But for "The Guardian," which stars Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher as two Coast Guard rescue swimmers, the production had to design a special tank that would mimic the choppy, treacherous waters of the Bering Sea as well as the volatile aftereffects of hurricanes and volcanoes on the oceans.
The tank also had to hold various sets, including a maze of caves in the Bering Sea and fishing boats in peril, while being warm enough for the actors, grips, safety crew and camera operators to swim in.
"The great fear when you take on a project like this — I like to keep my films sort of realistic — is 'What happens if it doesn't work?' " says Davis. "What if you don't make the water look believable?"
So he and his staff spent a lot of time exploring what real water looks like in storms. "We also looked at Coast Guard rescue footage. We used those as templates for what our goals were."
Davis turned to two of his veteran collaborators, production designer Maher Ahmad and *visual effects supervisor William Mesa
, to work their magic in the water rescue scenes.