Breaking Dawn: All for the Fans

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Breaking Dawn: All for the Fans

“When we wrap production on Breaking Dawn, we will have completed – from start to finish – five movies in three years and three months,” reveals Godfrey. “From the first day of shooting on Twilight, to the last day of shooting on Breaking Dawn, it’s only been basically three years! That’s a pretty amazing achievement. I don’t know that any other franchise has been able to pack them in together as closely.”

“Obviously we had to do that, because vampires don’t age, but actors tend to. So, it’s been a whirlwind… those of us on the production side have spent almost two years away from home within that three years,” shares Godfrey. “It’s been frantic and exhilarating at times, draining at other times… but now that we’re shooting the last two movies, it’s the first time that we’ve actually had a little bit of nostalgia. You’ll be sitting in between set-ups reminiscing about a really wet day in Portland. Everyone’s actually taking a breath and enjoying the fact it’s coming to a close.”

When Stephenie Meyer began writing Twilight in 2003, she never imagined it would become a series of films. “Being involved with making movies is a very strange and unexpected thing,” admits Meyer. “On a day to day basis, you get used to putting on all the rain gear and going back to work, but then you take a step back and say ‘we’re making a movie that’s going to be on the big screen.’ I’m kicking back and talking to Kristen and that’s cool. You stop and think she is one of the biggest movie stars in the whole world right now, and we’re just sitting here, swapping stories. So you have that little moment of ‘wow, that’s weird.’ It’s weird today because we’re shooting the wedding. Seeing hundreds of extras getting dressed up to go to Bella and Edward’s wedding is touching. Doing this for the past three and a half years has been life changing. It’s a different experience than I was ever expecting.”

“How often do you get a chance to be part of an anomaly of this scope? Very, very rarely,” answers Bannerman. “Other than Star Wars, where else do you see a fan-base that passionately supports a franchise to the point where they’ll wait in line for five nights just to see the actors walk down a red carpet? They wait for days on end just to get tickets to early screenings, or to go to a convention where the actors sign autographs… it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

“Years from now, we’re always going to look back on this filming period as being cool. The irony is we’re not allowed to talk about anything while we’re doing it,” laughs Bannerman. “We don’t want to let out the secrets, so the fans can have a fresh experience when they go to the theater. It’s been a real challenge for three years, not to tell anybody you’re working on one of the most exciting projects on the planet.”

“The fandom of these movies is unbelievable and never ceases to take me by surprise,” agrees Godfrey. “Going down to Brazil was an extraordinary experience because of the outpouring of love from the fans, they were rabid. There were at least 250 people with signs outside of Kristen and Rob’s hotel, around the clock, screaming and doing cheers. I’m sure it drives them crazy, but I keep telling them to take a step back and recognize that you may never get this unique energy again in your careers.”

While filming in Louisiana, local fans created a Facebook page called Twilight Takes Over Baton Rouge that gained nearly 10,000 followers. “In the Southern way, everyone was a little bit more reserved, and allowed the cast to go where they wanted. Baton Rouge was a little bit more controlled than it has been in Vancouver, or in bigger cities around the world, so I think somebody must have said, ‘Let them do their work here or they may never come back,’” laughs Godfrey.

“When I was 16 and Star Wars was the coolest thing, the Internet and the viral world didn’t exist,” comments Bannerman. “You didn’t know about anything until the movie was released. Now, because of the multimedia platforms and the amount of information that’s out there, the fans gets so much information, whether it’s intentionally disclosed or not, and that puts more of a spotlight on what we’re doing. I’ve never dealt with this level of fan-demonium on any other project… the excitement, the media attention, and the hype… that comes with this anomaly known as Twilight.”

Bannerman adds, “The level of attention is unique, but it does cause me to put a lot of energy into protecting the working environment. When you have a 400-person crew and a cast that ranges anywhere from two to fifty or more on a daily basis, it’s a very big world. So as we move from location to location and country to country, it becomes a challenge into itself to create a world where we can focus on the task at hand, without disrespecting the fans who embrace this franchise.”

With shooting on the epic saga drawing to a close, filmmakers continued to feel responsible to the fans expectations. “The journey that Bella takes into the vampire world holds a lot of surprises and wonder. It is a rollercoaster of excitement for the fans anticipating what would it be like to feel the bite. What does she feel as the venom works through her body? On every level, they’re going to be so satisfied, but they will want more,” comments Bannerman.

“One of the interesting things about making a Twilight movie is so many people know this material so well, that you take any decision to change something very seriously,” comments Condon. “In the editing it becomes more complicated to do what happens in the normal process of putting together a movie, which is to streamline. There are a number of scenes that hit the editing room floor that are going to be on the DVD. Some are favorite fan moments – the fun snarking back and forth between Jacob and Rosalie that ends with him throwing a hot dog in her hair. You hope people understand that brilliant moments from the novel that we put in the script and shot because the fans love them, and yet ultimately they just don’t fit in the film. We had over 15 minutes worth of that on this movie. But you really have to weigh the fan expectation more than you would on another movie.”

As Part 1 is about to be in theatres, Condon is deeply involved in post work on Part 2. “For me, it’s been an intense experience for about a year and a half now. Jumping in with developing the scripts, prepping two movies, and shooting the two movies. Then, a very tight schedule to get the first movie released,” shares Condon. “With the second film, the scope is much bigger and we’ll have the culmination to all of it… we cross over into the life of a vampire.”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn wrapped principal photography just before dawn the morning of April 23, 2011 on a St. Thomas beach in the Caribbean. Second unit stunt work wrapped at the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park just south of Squamish on April 29, 2011, with the aerial unit cherry-picking a handful of ideal weather days in the weeks that followed to complete shooting on the saga.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is in theatres on Friday, November 18, 2011.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is in theatres on Friday, November 16, 2012.

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