EXCL: Pulse 2, Bamber’s Green Screen Nightmare

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BSG star on DTV sequel

The human race faces extinction and, once again, like his turn in Battlestar Galactica, Jamie Bamber is at the center of it. Today, though, the star is sitting down with me at the Genius Products booth located in the San Diego Comic-Con to talk about his part in Pulse 2: Afterlife, a sequel to the 2006 J-horror remake of Kairo.

“It’s an Armageddon scenario. The end of the world,” Bamber explains of the plot in which he plays a father off to retrieve his daughter from a phantom-infested metropolis. “This infection has gone through the Internet and everyone is dying. It’s one man’s futile attempt to put his own wrecked personal life in order before this huge cataclysm. It’s an uphill struggle for him – he hasn’t seen his wife or kid, he’s trying to put his family back together in the face of this disaster.”

Bamber familiarized himself with the first film before hopping on board the Joel Soisson-directed follow-up. And frankly, he “didn’t like it. The first film was part of this obsession with cutting and commercial editing and it doesn’t make for good filmmaking. But I really liked Kairo and thought that was truly haunting and disturbing. There are certain shots in it that it will stay with me forever. I told Joel and [producer] Mike [Leahy] that it was one of the reasons why I took the job. I haven’t seen our movie yet, but I’m told we’re taking it back to the original film.”

Pulse 2: Afterlife and the upcoming Pulse 3‘s back-to-back principle photography schedule took place in Shreveport, Louisiana. And to save costs, production outfit Neo Art & Logic opted to lens both chapters entirely using green screen.

“I’ve never seen a film that was shot that way that was meant for reality,” Bamber says with some amazement. “It was a way, ironically, of saving money. We wouldn’t have to move the production to build sets or move locations and it was a real challenge because nothing is there and the world is not there. It was hard.” Did he know what he was getting into going in? “I think they thought of me as an actor who is used to working on green screen, which I kind’ve am but on Battlestar Galactica, the green screen is just a backdrop. Even when we’re in a Viper flying, we’re in a cockpit, and we’re pretending to fly and everything. The hangar deck exists, we replicate it to give it depth, and the green screen is a backdrop. On this, everything was green. It was like we were acting in a vacuum.”

The actor says he placed his trust in Soisson to keep him grounded in the film’s world. Often, Bamber would be able to watch playback where the final set would be revealed. The process was tenuous, but he understood the producers’ standpoint. “If the film looks right, it might be a way for the film producers to get away with it. John Adams recently green screened Versailles into the foreground of an episode – that’s an expensive set to build. If you can do it on a green screen, then the technology is cheaper to do it than the reality. The opposite used to be true. But for an actor, you don’t get genuine behavior because we react off of certain situations – unless you do the research and go to the place you need to.”

Tapping into one’s imagination was easier for his young co-star Karley Scott Collins. “She’s like a little Jodie Foster who’s a child first and an actor second. She’s an instinctive actress because she doesn’t have to become this strange hybrid individual, she’s just a kid. She’s very talented and for her sake I’m glad it was green screen because then she didn’t have to confront the reality of what we were doing too much.”

Pulse 2: Afterlife hits DVD on September 30th, meanwhile, Bamber’s time on Battlestar is drawing to an end. Battlestar is a road movie and there was always an anticipated destination so the ending is always going to be more than half of the point. And we’ve reach that point and I can say it’s profound, surprising and perfect. Ron [Moore] has really done himself proud. “

For DVD artwork and stills from the latest Pulse, click here.

Source: Ryan Rotten