News 30.03.21

AUSTRALIAN MADE MORTAL KOMBAT HITS THE SCREEN



From Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema comes the explosive new cinematic adventure Mortal Kombat, which brings the hugely popular video game franchise to the big screen.

The film is helmed by award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker Simon McQuoid, marking his feature directorial debut, and produced by James Wan (The Conjuring universe films, Aquaman), Todd Garner (Into the StormTag), McQuoid and E. Bennett Walsh (Men in Black: InternationalThe Amazing Spider-Man 2).

This Australian production is one of the first large scale films that has completed remote post-production between some 13+ Australian picture post-production, sound post-production, music, scoring and visual effects companies across Australia and a US studio, with the majority of post-production completed in South Australia. A truly collaborative partnership.

For Walsh, he has always tried to get the studios to do more post remotely, and now with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down productions worldwide, he sees the perception of remote post changing. He notes that Mortal Kombat wasn’t the only production that was in the post-production stage during the pandemic and believes that if such a large production could combat remote post, then this is the way of the post-pandemic future: “If I was shooting in Budapest even, I’d still post the film here and have the director and editor in LA if that’s where the studio wants them”, says Walsh.

“Because of the pandemic and remote work, I think we showed that you can do a film outside of LA and not lose control. And I would do it even if I had the director, editor and writer in LA, I would do the picture and sound post work here, and the visual effects. It works seamlessly.”

E. Bennett Walsh, Producer, Mortal Kombat

In February 2021, Warner Bros. Pictures debuted the first trailer for Mortal Kombat, setting a record for the most watched red band trailer of all time!

Mortal Kombat premiered to Australian audiences in cinemas on 22 April 2021 and US audiences in cinemas and on HBO Max on 23 April 2021. It will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.

Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

MADE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The production was supported by the Australian Government through Screen Australia and attracted to South Australia by the South Australian Government through South Australian Film Corporation, with additional support provided by the New South Wales Government through Screen NSW and the Victorian Government through Film Victoria.

“When we were looking at where to shoot this, there are certain kinds of key things you need.  One, is the rebate, which we got.  One, is the studios, which are here, and then you start to think about locations and crew. The post production facilities and the visual effects made it a really easy decision for us, because there’s several really, really world-class people here.”

E. Bennett Walsh, Producer, Mortal Kombat
Director/Producer Simon McQuoid with Lewis Tan as Cole Young. Photo by Simon Westlake. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN FILM CORPORATION: BEHIND THE SCENES OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN FILMED MORTAL KOMBAT

The biggest screen production ever made in the state, the highly anticipated feature film is set to be a super showcase of South Australia’s screen production capability including crew, PDV, and locations, with the photos and trailer giving audiences their first taste of what to expect. 

From vast red deserts to lush forests and gritty city streets, South Australia’s stunning locations will be in the spotlight in the film, with the trailer showing bloody battle action unfolding against the dramatic landscapes of Coober Pedy’s spectacular Painted Desert, the gritty streets of Port Adelaide, and the lush forests of Mount Crawford, in the Adelaide Hills, standing in for ancient Japan. 

Director/Producer Simon McQuoid told IGN South Australia’s locations were so incredible, they barely needed visual effects enhancement.

“I wanted to bring a realism and an authenticity and non-VFX feel to these unreal worlds,” he said.

“We shot in a disused coal mine in the middle of Australia, and pretty much in-camera. That was a pretty incredible location. So the locations we used and the places we found, I really wanted it to feel as in-camera as possible, and we just enhanced what was there.”

Simon McQuoid, Director/Producer, Mortal Kombat
Director/Producer Simon McQuoid and Producer E. Bennett Walsh outside Adelaide Studios, South Australia

SHOOTING AT ADELAIDE STUDIOS

Mortal Kombat was filmed in Adelaide, at Adelaide Studios, Coober Pedy and Mount Crawford in South Australia. It was an absolute thrill for Adelaide Studios to be chosen by New Line Cinema to shoot the action-adventure film.

“All the interstate crew loved Adelaide. All the international crew loved Adelaide. There’s a quality that’s really high”, says Walsh.

“It brings together all of the components we need to make an ambitious action film a success, and we applaud the South Australian Film Corporation for their role in attracting the production to their region.”

Katherine Beyda, Executive Vice President, Physical Production, New Line Cinema

Curious to know more about the mesmerising locations of the southern central part of Australia? Have a glance over at our Location Spotlight for Adelaide and our Location Spotlight for South Australia.

Josh Lawson as Kano. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

AUSTRALIAN REMOTE PICTURE POST

KOJO STUDIOS: THE POST-PRODUCTION BACKBONE ON MORTAL KOMBAT

KOJO Studios served as the South Australian post-production lab on Mortal Kombat providing a broad range of solutions across data, colour management, dailies, editorial and visual effects. The Mortal Kombat post-production team were housed at KOJO’s Adelaide studio from the start of the August 2019 shoot for eight months with their team growing to over a dozen for the duration of their time in South Australia.

KOJO’s Executive Director of Post & VFX Marty Pepper worked with production to design a colour pipeline utilising Fotokem’s NextLAB Mobile system to ingest, process, sync, backup and colour dailies with deliveries feeding Editorial, VFX, DP and Director right through to stakeholders at Warner Bros./New Line Cinema in Los Angeles within hours of being shot 24/7.

KOJO Studios provided six Avid suites working from a 132TB Nexus shared storage solution to support the editorial and VFX departments. Additionally KOJO was engaged to complete over one hundred VFX shots and provide supervision of another hundred shots from other South Australian vendors on behalf of production.

“I was thrilled to be able to provide Simon McQuoid and his production team a holistic and connected range of Post and VFX services from under one roof. We were brought on very early in the process and set about being the post-production backbone of this major project during principal photography in South Australia through to the final DI pulls in 2021.”

Marty Pepper, Executive Director of Post & VFX, KOJO Studios

With post-production studios in Adelaide and Melbourne, and production offices in Sydney and Perth, KOJO’s staff work seamlessly across the vast Australian landscape to create work that captivates audiences globally.

KOJO’s post-production studios have completed over 60 feature films and 10 TV series, including recent titles such as Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and Grant Sputore’s hit I Am Mother.

KOJO is an accredited post-production studio and has worked with international studios such Warner Bros., Universal, BBC Films, Discovery Channel, Netflix and Amazon. Their services include workflow planning, data management, dailies, editorial, motion design, VFX, DI, sound and delivery, offering a complete lens to screen solution.

(L-R) Mixing at Spectrum Films with Robert Mackenzie, Dan Lebental, Simon McQuoid, Victoria Cocks, E. Bennett Walsh, Phil Heywood & Katrina Schiller. Courtesy of Spectrum Films.

SPECTRUM FILMS: REMOTE POST? NO WORRIES!

Spectrum Films jumped on board with Mortal Kombat in March 2020 providing seven Avid suites and a variety of office space for the Mortal Kombat production team at Spectrum’s Fox Studios-based facility in Sydney.

Spectrum Films also provided services for the digital intermediate (DI) and deliverables, the ADR mixing, dialogue pre-mixing and Dolby ATMOS, 7.1 and 5.1 final mixes.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, initially, Director/Producer Simon McQuoid was based in Perth, and Editor Dan Lebental and New Line Creative Executives were in Los Angeles, whilst the remaining editorial team members were based in Sydney.

Post-Production Supervisor Jane Maguire worked with Spectrum and Sohonet to establish ClearView Flex workflows for remote editorial sessions so post-production could continue while travel restrictions were in place. 

The production also undertook multiple remote colour sessions to different locations. Germain McMicking, the films Cinematographer, worked remotely from Soundfirm Melbourne (via Streambox), and New Line Creative Executives connected to the Sydney grading suite from Warner Bros. Pictures in Burbank, California (via TVips and Sohonet). 

Throughout the entire post-production schedule, Mortal Kombat utilised Spectrum Films’ 4k DI theatre for VFX reviews with Australian VFX Supervisor Chris Godfrey, VFX Producer Prue Fletcher and their VFX team. 

Final deliverables were created and checked by the Spectrum team and then sent via Spectrum’s 1gb pipe to the U.S. for creation of the day and date theatrical, IMAX, home entertainment and international versions. Spectrum also carried out multiple preview screenings for the producers in Spectrum’s large theatre, and supplied DCPs for screenings for New Line throughout the course of the project.

“We are proud that this project, a large studio film from New Line/Warner Bros., was completed 100% in Australia across a huge collaboration of  15+ Australian companies through what has been a very challenging year for everyone around the world, due to COVID. Simon, Bennett, Post-Production Supervisor Jane Maguire and the whole Mortal Kombat crew were amazing. We are very happy that we had the chance to work with an incredible team on such a great project.”

Josh Pomeranz, Managing Director, Spectrum Films
Keiran Lee. Courtesy of Animal Logic

SPECTRUM FILMS & ANIMAL LOGIC: A MATCH MADE IN COLOUR GRADING HEAVEN

For the digital intermediate, Australian Post-Production Supervisor Jane Maguire facilitated a seamless collaboration between Spectrum Films and Animal Logic, both based on the Fox Studios Australia lot in Sydney.

The use of Animal Logic’s Black Theatre was provided as a four-wall theatre housing Spectrum’s Baselight that was connected back to Spectrum’s 4K DI theatre and dedicated storage. It was a workflow engineered to allow for the seamless transfer of data between editorial, VFX and the DI team, led by Spectrum’s General Manager Catherine Armstrong and Executive Director David Hollingsworth, as well as Supervising DI Editor Justin Tran.  

Jane Maguire says utilising two grade theatres on the same studio lot, for the duration of post, the Spectrum Films 4K grade theatre and Animal Logic’s Black Theatre was strategic.

“The dual facility collaboration on Mortal Kombat’s post-production on such a heavy VFX job was extremely advantageous as a lot of secondary work is done outside the main colour grade room and enabled us to be able to post-produce this film successfully and to hit a very tight deadline.”

Jane Maguire, Post-Production Supervisor, Mortal Kombat

Working together for the very first time, this collaboration provided the opportunity for the two teams to build new professional relationships, share skillsets and learn from each other.

Animal Logic’s Keiran Lee was brought onto the Mortal Kombat DI team as a Colourist to support Mortal Kombat’s Senior Colourist, Olivier Fontenay.

Olivier’s extensive experience in the film industry, having worked in the live-action space for over three decades, provided Keiran with insight into traditional film processes in the grading suite. Whereas Keiran’s background as a colourist on CG and hybrid films, added new compositing and grading skills to the mix.

During the project, differences in workflow between the two teams were incorporated into the overall strategy, with these new processes and approaches to filmmaking creating a lasting impression on the talent involved.

Jane Maguire created a workflow that highlighted the advantages of collaboration. Mortal Kombat is an incredibly large scale production and being able to utilise multiple companies together on the Fox Studios Lot not only provided a space large enough for the project but also saved significant amounts of time.

When travel restrictions were lifted, Director/Producer Simon McQuoid travelled to Sydney in late 2020, and was able to walk between Editorial, Colour, Sound, Music and VFX sessions on the Fox Studios Australia lot.

“Facilities in Australia are generally not large enough for one to house a production of this size on their own.  There is also often not enough work to support a single entity of that size.  It was great to see all companies join forces to accommodate the expectations of a Hollywood studio of finishing a large and complex feature film.  This becomes increasingly important when having to hit a very demanding day and date release schedule across many platforms.”

Jane Maguire, Post-Production Supervisor, Mortal Kombat
Sisi Stringer as Mileena. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

AUSTRALIAN REMOTE SOUND & MUSIC POST

TRACKDOWN: MUSIC & SCORE SUCCESS!

Trackdown provided comprehensive music services for Mortal Kombat including; music editorial (both temp and final), complete score coordination, record and mix services.

Tim Ryan, Trackdown’s Lead Music Editor worked closely with editorial and Director/Producer Simon McQuoid on the temp score during production, taking the film all the way to final delivery in conjunction with Music Editor Katrina Schiller.

Trackdown’s Simon Leadley Scoring Stage, musicians spaced for Covid-safe distance

The score was recorded in Trackdown’s Simon Leadley Scoring Stage, by Trackdown’s resident engineering team: Craig Beckett (Score Engineer), Rose Mackenzie-Peterson (ProTools Operator) and Liam Moses (Assistant Engineer) who were responsible for capturing the sound of a full orchestra (recorded in sections and socially distanced) and choir all of which was co-ordinated by Elaine Beckett, assisted by Ariane Sallis. The team also utilised live streaming services including Source-Connect and Zoom, to work closely with composer Benjamin Wallfisch and his team, who were based in Los Angeles.

The post and sound team at Spectrum Films Dolby Atmos Theatre

SPECTRUM FILMS’ DOLBY ATMOS THEATRE

Spectrum Films managed the dialogue pre-mixing and full theatrical final mix within their recently renovated large Dolby ATMOS theatre at Fox Studios.

The theatre utilised its existing AVID S6 console and a new S4 mixing desk with four new MacPro ProTools systems.

Supervising Sound Editor/Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer, Academy-award winning, Robert Mackenzie worked side-by-side with Re-Recording Mixer, Phil Heywood while other members of the sound team worked on the next tier behind the mix area on additional work stations.

Throughout the final mix, sessions were delivered digitally to New Line executives in Los Angeles for review and feedback overnight which meant the team could move ahead the following morning.

“Working with the Spectrum team in their newly renovated Dolby Atmos Mixing theatre was fantastic.  The stage sounds great, and the collaboration between the Mortal Kombat sound and music teams and the facility provided everything we needed to get the soundtrack to where we did.”

Robert Mackenzie, Supervising Sound Editor/Sound Designer/Re-Recording Mixer, Mortal Kombat
Josh Lawson as Kano. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures. VFX shot courtesy of SLATEVFX

AUSTRALIAN VFX VENDORS

SLATEVFX: FROM PREVIS, VFX TO FINALS

Working closely with Director/Producer Simon McQuoid, Producer E. Bennett Walsh and Visual Effects Supervisor Chris Godfrey, SLATEVFXwith Prue Fletcher as the Visual Effects Producer, oversaw Mortal Kombat’s action-packed visual effects all the way from previs to completed finals.

SLATEVFX accommodated the VFX production team in their Sydney office and set up facilities in accordance with the production needs and requirements. Housing the VFX server which allowed LA to remote in, they supplied the VFX team and executives access to high-speed internet, office space, and set-up remote 4k grading and review.   

Their versatile 3D and 2D teams were responsible for delivering key sequences including the blood-filled opening fight scene, the hostile skies and backgrounds of Outworld, and Kano’s blasting laser FX. Their work covered everything from clean-up, simulated travel, rotomation and eye replacements to CG prop models, digital matte background paintings and detailed FX and animation.

As a nimble and adaptive visual effects company, SLATEVFX was easily able to cater to changing requirements and deliver quick fixes throughout the post-production process. Their crew also provided pre and postvis, all VFX temps for major screenings, techvis and on-set supervision for the Sydney film shoot.

Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero/Bi-Han. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

RISING SUN PICTURES DELIVERS 600 INCREDIBLE VFX SHOTS FOR MORTAL KOMBAT

As the film’s principal VFX provider, RSP was tasked with creating a diversity of stunning visuals, ranging from a reptilian creature to eerie portals, explosive bolts of fire and ice, as well as blood and gore to enhance intense martial arts combat scenes. RSP artists also applied their skills to the film’s climactic scene, which covers nearly 10 minutes of screen time and depicts a furious battle involving Cole Young (Lewis Tan), the film’s hero, and the rival ninja warriors Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada).

RSP was involved in the project from the beginning – from pre-production through to final delivery. RSP Art Director Nick Pill and VFX Supervisor Dennis Jones consulted with McQuoid and his team on details ranging from visual effects through set, character and prop design. Additionally, Jones and CG Supervisor Bhakar James were on-set as visual effects consultants through three months of live action production.

“The opportunity to work on this film from early pre-production right through to final delivery was extremely gratifying. From the inception, we were able to offer creative solutions to Simon McQuoid to enhance the story and realise his vision.”

Gillian Howe, Executive Producer, Rising Sun Pictures

While employing characters, themes and plotlines from the game, the film is more realistic in tone and visual representation. Virtually all the martial arts fighting was shot practically, with RSP’s visual effects used to compliment action and add supernatural elements such as ice weapons generated by Sub-Zero and fire wielded by Scorpion. But even those elements are rendered with an eye toward realism. “We drew inspiration and references from the game, but our brief from Simon McQuoid was to bring it into a more filmic realm and emphasise the humanity of the characters,” says Jones. “Everything that happens in the movie is fantastical, but it’s based in reality. That encourages the audience to suspend disbelief and adds a visceral quality to what they’re watching.”

Some of RSP’s most intricate work involved Sub-Zero, who uses his freezing power to create weapons, immobilise opponents and carry out a variety of other deadly acts. Jones notes that while the ice effects needed consistency, each one required specialised treatment. “The ice was challenging, in part because the audience is familiar with how it is used in the game and how it appears in real life,” he explains. “They expect ice to look and act in a certain way. Plus, each time Sub-Zero uses his powers, he deploys them differently. So, we couldn’t simply establish a generic look and apply it over and over again. The ice needed to vary depending on how it was used, as well as the lighting and environment.”

As a premium VFX studio, RSP has a reputation for delivering incredible visuals for its clients and this film is no exception. 

“The key to our success was having a good internal workflow. All departments worked closely to push assets through modeling, effects, lighting and rendering. Effects and look development for the ice sequences were especially challenging but we delivered beautiful, crystal ice. The results are a testament to the commitment of the team.”

Dan Bethell, Co-VFX Supervisor, Rising Sun Pictures

Accustomed to collaborating with productions based in Southern California, the UK and elsewhere around the globe, RSP relished the opportunity to contribute to a home-grown product. “Our proximity allowed us to provide a full onset team to support the production. During post-production, Chris Godfrey would pop by the studio whenever he wanted to review our progress,” notes Howe.

“We were well into production when the pandemic hit, but we simply reverted to remote and socially-distanced production and did not falter. We are fortunate to be situated in South Australia where conditions never reached a crisis point and we were able to offer the production all the capacity and support it needed.”

Gillian Howe, Executive Producer, Rising Sun Pictures
Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures

CHARACTER BUILDING AT METHOD STUDIOS MELBOURNE

Method’s Melbourne studio took on a significant parcel of shots on the exciting new Mortal Kombat movie. This work primarily involved the four-armed monster Goro, the robot-armed Jax, the winged character Nitara, and the sharp toothed Mileena. Method Melbourne VFX Supervisors Avi Goodman and Glenn Melenhorst led the effort from the 120 strong Melbourne team, whilst additional work was handled by Method’s Montreal and Vancouver studios.

While Goro was inspired by the groundbreaking game itself and its deep lore, Goodman and his team set about building the four-armed monster with anatomical characteristics that are a bit more grounded in reality.

“It was important that Goro felt like a plausible creature. We spent a lot of time on his internal structure, figuring out how his extra arms would work from a skeletal and muscular point of view. This work informed his final design, as well as allowing for physically based muscle simulations.”

Avi Goodman, VFX Supervisor, Method Studios

The team combined motion capture work with animation to create, over many iterations, a Goro that was monstrous but also had more realistic anatomical features and more expressive facial movements that indicate a greater interior life.  “There’s some intelligence in there,” Goodman elaborates, “and during his fight scenes, we did want it to read on his face if he’s feeling cocky and invincible or if he’s stunned and suddenly vulnerable.”

For the Nitara character, Method provided a mix of full CG shots as well as adding digital wings to live action plates of the actress. “We’ve learnt a bit over the years – putting wings on creatures,” Goodman notes. “Recently, we created a winged horse for Jumanji: The Next Level, which involved a good amount of exploration of flight theory — what happens to the shape of wings during flight and how do birds and bats maintain lift and minimize drag.”

Jax is a military man with two elaborate artificial arms. This work for Method revolved around rendering and integrating CG arms, and torso, replacing the arms and the entire upper torso of the actor portraying Jax.

“I had fond memories of playing Mortal Kombat as a kid,” Goodman says, “When the opportunity came up to work on it, particularly to bring Goro to life, I was excited to get involved.”

Mehcad Brooks as Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

MR. X: BRINGING BIONIC JAX TO LIFE

From building large scale environments to delivering magical FX to epic battles scenes, MR. X completed a total of 489 VFX shots for Mortal Kombat. One notable part of the film that MR. X was involved with, was bringing the character Jax’s iconic bionic arms to life.

“The bridge fight sequence was a real test for the integration of Jax’s arms. Broad, dynamic movement through the fight required the intricate structure that connects the mechanical elements to the biological forms to work from all angles and in all situations. We replaced the entire torso in CG and time was spent putting the rig through its paces with broad calisthenics tests to ensure the musculature was true to that of Mehcad Brooks.”

Matt Everitt, Animation Supervisor, MR. X

The MR. X team paid special attention to the arm movements to make sure the audience would understand Jax’s unparalleled strength. “Jax needed to feel strong and powerful so we paid particular attention to the weight and timing of each punch, block and swing to give the arms a true sense of force and power,” says Everitt.

MR. X VFX Producer Thadiwe Philips and Supervisor Jason Billington partnered with Overall VFX Supervisor Chris Godfrey and Producer Prue Fletcher over the course of 15 months on the project. Philips and Billington oversaw the work of 582 crew members across MR. X’s Adelaide and Bangalore studios. 

Mehcad Brooks as Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

RESIN DELIVERS 100 VFX SHOTS

Resin is proud to be amongst a number of Australian VFX studios who worked on Mortal Kombat. Resin’s VFX work was well received by Mortal Kombat’s VFX Supervisor, Chris Godfrey, so much so that the scope of work successfully completed by Resin expanded to approximately 100 VFX shots.

Resin’s clients include Apple, Sony, Netflix, NBC Universal and Disney. Relationships which span years, projects and continents. Resin has a footprint in most states of Australia with a studio in Brisbane and studio space available with its sister company, The Post Lounge in Melbourne and its recent expansion into Sydney.

Ludi Lin as Liu Kang. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

FIN DESIGN & EFFECTS: TAKING ON LAST MINUTE SHOTS

Fin Design + Effects was thrilled to be able to assist on Mortal Kombat in the final days of the show’s production. Fin’s agile VFX pipeline was able to take on 14 last minute shots with only ten days until the deadline. No strangers to this kind of 911 call, the team at Fin rose to the challenge and added fire and lightning to several key moments.

Sandbox based in Perth, 50 seat grading theatre

SANDBOX: FILM REVIEW 2000 MILES FROM SYDNEY

When Director/Producer Simon McQuoid returned to his home town of Perth on Australia’s west coast, during the height of COVID-19, Perth-based post and VFX studio, Sandbox ensured that VFX and final film reviews were seamless. From setting up a calibrated screen at Mr McQuoid’s home to reviewing the film in a boutique 50 seat grading theatre, the work never stopped.

Courtesy of Heliguy

AUSTRALIAN VENDORS

HELIGUY: MAGICAL DRONE CINEMATOGRAPHY

Heliguy had a team of four on Mortal Kombat, flying Panavision Ultra Vista lenses on the Alexa Mini LF under our Turbine heavy lift drone.

“The South Australian desert locations around Coober Pedy are true drone heaven – flying in any direction unveiled breathtaking frames as each craggy outcrop revealed the next scorched gully. Not a single fence or trail could be seen among the red, yellow and piercing white rock, an endless isolated wilderness.”

Alastair Smith, Drone Operator, Heliguy

In the cold pre-dawn they hauled gear up the hills, ready to be in the air the moment the sun cut the horizon to flood everything with gold for those first magical twenty minutes. The nighttime setup was also unforgettable, as the gaffers lit up the whole valleyside right up to the ridgeline. From their high vantage point in the black sky, the set looked like a classic sci-fi Mars base, nestled among the desolate alien rockscape. 

On one of the setups, the Heliguy Team was shooting the vintage Caribou plane taking off from the forest. They were rehearsing the evening before with minimal crew, but the sky was clear with no wind so they decided it was worth rolling.

After a couple of wide options above the trees, they got a feel for the plane’s speed and take-off point, and set up for a tight tracking run in the last minutes of sun. The pilots radioed that the old engines were overheating but agreed to do one final take-off. Positioned well ahead of the plane as they released the brakes, they sent the drone down the runway at full speed, skimming the trees. The plane caught up quickly and overtook them as it pitched back and roared into the sky, smoke trails backlit as it banked off into the setting sun. Thankfully it all came together on that rehearsal afternoon, as the next day was wet and windy.

To this day that remains one of Heliguy’s favourite shots, reflecting what a privilege the whole shoot was for them to have been a part of.

Courtesy of Heliguy

PANAVISION AUSTRALIA: SIMPLY GORGEOUS

Panavision Australia was proud to support and help Mortal Kombat lens their vision to the screen.

Mortal Kombat was a big production. With multiple units, cameras, intricate stunts, and remote locations – having great camera rental support is essential. Panavision were incredible throughout. Their advanced logistical and technical support helped keep the juggernaut moving. The beautiful UltraVista anamorphic lenses developed by Dan Sasaki and his team, were an essential ingredient to the ultimate look of the film. The lyrical and textural feel these lenses offered grounded the story, and were simply gorgeous.”

Germain McMicking ACS, Cinematographer, Mortal Kombat
Courtesy of Heliguy

SHOWGROUP: TRAVEL PROVIDER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Showfilm, a division of Show Group Enterprises, is Australia’s leading film production and entertainment travel providers.  

With 40 years of experience in successfully managing travel and freight logistics, Showfilm worked closely with the Warner Bros./New Line and Mortal Kombat production team, advising and booking travel from around the world to and around Australia, including a large travel movement to Cooper Pedy with charter aircraft for 100 crew and cast during filming, along with various other charter flights within South Australia.

Superior supplier relationships within the Australian market enabled Showfilm to achieve competitive international inbound and domestic Australia airline deals, both short and long-term accommodation rates with leading Australian hotel accommodation providers as well as market-leading car rental rates resulting in impressive cost savings for the production. 

Mortal Kombat was unique – with filming starting in 2019 then with an additional reshoot in Australia during the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, Showfilm stepped up and demonstrated our adaptability, agility and flexibility that was required to provide effective, efficient solutions to travel plans during this unexpected global pandemic.

(L-R) Ludi Lin as Liu Kang and Max Huang as Kung Lao. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

OTHER AUSTRALIAN STATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

FILM VICTORIA: MELBOURNE’S JAMES WAN AND METHOD STUDIOS TAKE MORTAL KOMBAT TO A NEW LEVEL

From the work of creature animation experts Method Studios Melbourne to the unique skills and flair of the Victorian key creatives behind the camera, New Line Cinema’s Mortal Kombat has been created by an exceptional team of acclaimed Victorian talent.

Mortal Kombat is produced by Victorian James Wan (Aquaman, Furious 7, Saw, Insidious), while director of photography Germain McMicking (Partisan, Berlin Syndrome), set decorator Rolland Pike (I, Frankenstein, Killer Elite) and costume designer Cappi Ireland (Lion, Animal Kingdom) are three of more than 20 Victorians who worked on the physical production.

VFX house Method Studios Melbourne took on one of the most iconic characters in the Mortal Kombat canon in Goro, bringing their globally renowned skills in creature animation – honed on productions including Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, The Witches and Jumanji: The Next Level – to the project.

“Making a recognisable character like Goro come to life was incredibly complex and rewarding. Through the use of motion capture and keyframing, we worked hard to make sure he felt mean, gigantic and powerful,” said Method Studios’ Animation Supervisor Nicholas Tripodi.

Film Victoria supported the Melbourne studio by providing Warner Bros./New Line with competitive financial incentives to secure a VFX package on the highly anticipated film.

Mortal Kombat was a significant project for Method and we are extremely appreciative of Film Victoria who provided financial incentives that helped us secure the resultant volume of work.”

Simon Rosenthal, Head of VFX, Method Studios

Victoria’s VFX studios have created award-winning visual effects on some of the world’s most recognised productions, such as Spider-Man: Far from Home, Aquaman and Game of Thrones. In late 2020, the Victorian Government made a record investment in screen production with the launch of the Victorian Screen Incentive, designed to attract more international projects to Victoria.

“I think they’ve probably done six of my movies. They did my second Ghost Rider, they did Men in Black and they did Knight and Day. I would always use them, and they were always supportive. That’s when I first realised that the PDV was easy to apply for and so important, because I was in Romania, or I was in the US, and Film Victoria would just say ‘sure’. So, the PDV is very easy.”

E. Bennett Walsh, Producer, Mortal Kombat

Want to find out more about the Victorian Screen Incentive or have an introduction to one or more of the state’s talented creatives and screen businesses? Contact Film Victoria’s Manager of Production Attraction & Support Joe Brinkmann at [email protected]

(L-R) Mehcad Brooks as Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs and Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero/Bi-Han. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

SCREEN NSW

Screen NSW supported the production with its 10% Post, Digital & Visual Effects (PDV) Rebate.

For more information about Screen NSW’s PDV Rebate email Manager for Post, Digital and Visual Effects, [email protected].

AUSTRALIA’S SCREEN TAX REBATES

Want to know more about Australia’s screen production tax rebates? The Australian Government offers a 16.5% Location Offset combined with up to 13.5% merit-assessed Location Incentive grant (effectively up to 30% rebate on your qualifying spend in Australia), the Producer Offset (40% features/20% non-features) and a 30% Post, Digital & VFX (PDV) Offset.

You can also combine a Federal screen production tax rebate with a combination of Australian state government rebates and grants. New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia all offer up to 10-20% PDV Offsets. Meaning your production could claim up to 50% rebates in post, sound, music and VFX production spend in Australia (conditions apply) whether your film is shot in Australia or not.

For more information about how these incentives work read this Factsheet, or email Ausfilm’s Erin Stam.

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Featured Image Credit: Director/Producer Simon McQuoid with Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion. Photo by Mark Rogers, Warner Bros.