The Matrix: Locations and Sets

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When the filmmakers began consideration locations for "The Matrix," Australia immediately offered certain advantages. Says executive producer and native Australian Andrew Mason, "Australia has a vital film industry and a terrific talent pool." Mason, who had recently produced Alex Proyas' "Dark City," also filmed in Australia, provided information and assistance in assembling a top-notch technical crew and securing several visually interesting shooting sites for "The Matrix."

"The Matrix" was filmed on location in Sydney - on soundstages and, for two months, on Sydney's streets and rooftops and in warehouses. Joel Silver enthused about using Sydney as a location for the production: "Filmmaking expertise, competitive costs and a great spirit of cooperation all enhanced Sydney's appeal. We also liked the diversity of the city's architecture and its general geography; it was an ideal city for our purposes."

The task of creating the film's many futuristic sets - a total of 30 in all - fell to production designer OWEN PATERSON. The two biggest sets were the interior of the Nebuchadnezzer, the hovercraft that is home to Morpheus and his followers, and the government office building, which was incorporated into an entire Sydney office block. This set included an enormous translight, a huge backdrop that is lit to look completely realistic.

Says Paterson, "There's a major sequence involving a massive shootout in an office building. Obviously we couldn't accomplish that in a real location, so we built an enormous steel structure, almost like a modern-day skyscraper, within a soundstage. We then needed a backdrop of the city beyond the windows, so we used a translight."

Explains executive producer Barrie Osborne: "A translight looks like a 35mm color transparency blown up to a very large size. Of course, the picture is taken with special cameras. Our translight was 42 feet high and 140 feet long!"

Adds producer Joel Silver: "This was without a doubt the biggest translight I'd ever seen. It meant that when we were shooting in the office building set we could shoot right into the translight to give the feeling that we were actually in that location. We manipulated the background slightly, via computer-generated imaging, to remove the Sydney Opera House and Bridge, because the movie takes place in an unnamed city, not specifically Sydney."

"I see 'The Matrix' as a ground-breaking movie," Silver says. "The style and the visual effects within the action sequences are something that have never been seen before, plus we have fighting styles and photographic techniques used in this movie that weren't possible even six months ago. We also have some of the most impressive stunt work I've ever seen.

"The Wachowskis are truly visionary filmmakers," Silver concludes. "I like to think 'The Matrix' will re-define the action genre - it really is very spectacular."

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