Spoiler alert: The following will change the way you watch movies.
Have you ever wondered how Hollywood filmmakers produce movies based at sea? Or create scenes where planes crash into the ocean?
We’ve got the secret.
Royal Wolf has been supplying Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Warner Bros, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, with shipping containers for more than 15 years to use in the production of some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Thor: Ragnarok, Aquaman, Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla vs. Kong, Fool’s Gold and San Andreas.
Production companies hire up to 50 shipping containers per movie and use them to create blue screens – better known as green screens.
A closer look at the ship surrounded by containers being used as a blue screen. Picture: Google Earth
“Each movie or TV show we do, we call on Royal Wolf to hire containers for two reasons – one is for storage, and sometimes we end up with about 40 or 50 of them, or we use them to build blue screen walls,” says Jason Rowling, Production Contractor and Transport Manager on many major motion pictures filmed in Australia.
“We get 40-foot containers, stack them up about four to five high, then put a blue cloth over them and build our film set in front… then we delete the blue out of the background and replace it with whatever template shot we’ve got.
“The containers are a good, solid, stable structure for us.”
Royal wolf containers were used as blue screens during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales starring Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, with containers set up in a U-shape and stacked three-four high to surround two ships.
“In Pirates of the Caribbean, anything when the boats were at sea was filmed using the containers as the background,” Jason said.
“The boats were on a gimbal on the set, so the boats rocked to create the motion, then (we posted) the background,” he explains.
An aerial view part of the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales set. Royal Wolf containers are set up as blue screens in a U shape to surround ships. Picture: Google Earth
The production companies hire a variety of containers from Royal Wolf, including high cubes, 20- and 40-foot containers and, occasionally, hazardous material/chemical storage containers for use on films.
Working with Jason and the production companies has changed the way many Royal Wolf staff watch movies, including Gold Coast Branch Manager Darren Tahana.
Darren was on set for the filming of Aquaman, witnessing first-hand the amazing flexibility of Royal Wolf.
“I just watched how they did everything and how they used our equipment – it’s not just for storage, that’s for sure,” says Darren.
“They had a lot of sets set up inside the containers and a lot of the set designers were using the containers as workspaces.
“There were a couple of scenes that were actually shot inside containers.”
Two containers were also used during the filming of San Andreas, starring The Rock, to create “a tsunami effect in the wave pool they had set up at the studios,” says Darren.
Jason said he’s never considered using another supplier.
“We’ve been using Royal Wolf for more than 15 years. They’re prompt. At the drop of a hat I contact them and say, ‘We need two containers tomorrow’, and it happens.”
Darren points to his strong working relationship with Jason as key.
“Jason comes to me whenever he needs anything. I think he had me on speed dial at one point,” Darren says with a laugh.
“It’s pretty easy from our end. They place an order for what they need, provide the timing, how they need it delivered, where it’s going and then we fulfill it.
“We’ve found ways to utilise our equipment that businesses we deal with would never have thought of.
“We’re very adaptable and they’re an imaginative bunch down at the studios.”
We’re calling it. It’s time for the Academy to introduce two new awards: Best use of shipping containers in a blockbuster movie, on camera and behind the scenes.
Containers are set up in a U-shape as a blue screen on the set. Picture: Google Earth