One of my most treasured experiences these last 20 years of running BOF (I’m LUCKY, there’s been a lot of ’em) was my visit to the Chicago set of THE DARK KNIGHT in June of 2007.
Not only did I get to meet and chat with various members of the cast (Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman) and crew (Christopher Nolan, Lindy Hemming, Chris Corbould, Emma Thomas, et al), but I got to see 3 scenes from TDK being filmed.
This was the first time ever I had 1) Been on a movie set, and 2) Saw movie filming taking place. I never realized how meticulous it actually is.
Oh yeah, I got to eat with the cast (well, the extras) and crew at craft services. Let me tell you, those folks eat dadgum good!
In honor of the 10th anniversary of TDK, I’m taking a look back at my set visit with a focus on the scenes I witnessed being filmed in Chicago 11 years ago.
BATMAN/GORDON BANK VAULT SCENE
This was the first scene filmed that day. We arrived on set the set early and filming commenced around 8AM.
What struck me is how long it took to film it. As I said, they started filming at 8AM and didn’t stop until we broke for lunch around 12PM. Four hours of filming for something that lasts less than a minute on screen!
Here’s a funny story: Christian Bale’s Batman actually throws Gary Oldman’s Lt. Gordon the stack of “marked bills” that the two talk about in the scene. However, Oldman kept dropping the bills when Bale tossed them to him. Even though he finally caught them, the toss of the bills was cut from the movie.
After this scene finished filming, the 5 other press people and I were given a tour of the set. As I walked into the “bank vault,” I noticed that the door was not steel, but made out of wood — Hollywood magic at hand folks! Also, the vault itself was an old post office box area of a, well, post office. That’s because the building in which all of this took place was the “Old Chicago Post Office” and had been converted into a mini sound stage for TDK.
In addition to the vault, we walked through the “bank lobby” where The Joker’s bank heist scene took place. Broken glass was still all over the floor due to the bank manger’s shotgun blast, police crime scene tape roped off the area, and the back of the school bus was still lodged inside the building!
GORDON/RAMIREZ WALKING THROUGH THE BANK
After lunch, the next scene we watched being filmed was Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Ramirez (Monique Gabriela Curnen) walking through the bank right after The Joker’s bank heist. This bit of filming went relatively fast, though there seemed to be much more filmed than the few seconds that actually ended up in the final cut.
GORDON RUNNING UP THE BANK STAIRS
After interviewing Gary Oldman in full-on Gordon mode, the last filming we got to witness that day again involved Mr. Oldman (it was a busy day on the set for G.O.) running up the stairs of the “bank” after Gordon is called to investigate The Joker’s bank heist. We actually went outside on the streets of Chicago (as opposed to watching the previous filming via a video feed on a big flat screen TV) to check this bit of filming out.
As you see in the film, it was a very short scene that involved G.O. as Gordon running up the steps while surrounded by the “press.” Mr. Oldman did this about 10 to 15 times, and it was a wrap for the day.
Here’s what I saw being filmed that day as it appeared in THE DARK KNIGHT…
Like I said, a FULL day of filming — damn near 12 hours — for just 1 minute in the final cut.
So we left with the WB folks and proceeded to go eatin’ and drinkin’ in Chi-Town!
Movie-making is one tedious business that likely requires A LOT of patience — which I do not have. But I can bang a dagum drum very loudly.
Stay tuned to BOF for more #TDK10 articles/retrospectives! – Bill “Jett” Ramey