“It was like someone wrote an encyclopedia for the thing we were making,” notes visual effects supervisor Jake Braver of his work on “The Stand.” The Paramount+ limited series is based on the epic apocalyptic novel of good and evil by Stephen King. Braver was drawn to the project because of “the complexity of the characters and how rich the world was.” Braver used the novel as an essential tool in creating the visual language of “The Stand” (he is also a second unit director and a producer), which encompassed grotesque bodies affected by plague, hellish cityscapes, and one wicked devil. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“One of the most important things about world building is what’s not on the screen,” Braver explains. An example of this philosophy is found in his creation of “New Vegas,” the location the demonic Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) calls home. Showrunner Benjamin Cavell created a rulebook for society in New Vegas, which directly “influenced the design process,’ says Braver.
On a location scouting trip to Las Vegas, Braver tried to find the hotel that would become Flagg’s abode, The Inferno Casino, but “everything there was too recognizable.” He used the bones of Planet Hollywood as a base to digitally create a casino that could realistically be a part of the famous Vegas strip, but also fit within Flagg’s hellish version of Sin City. The resulting Inferno Casino was designed with what Braver refers to as “parasitic architecture,” with an angular tower of glass emerging as a centerpiece.
Visual effects were also important in creating the visage of Flagg’s true form. During an infamous scene from the novel, the villain sheds his handsome persona while seducing Nadine (Amber Heard) and reveals a shocking visage that lurks beneath. Skarsgard shot the sequence in a motion capture suit in order to retain his physicality and expressions. “It was important to maintain the humanity of his performance,” Braver explains. Flagg’s charred and scarred demonic form that horrifies Nadine was “based around Flagg being an ancient being…decimated by time.”
Braver also admits that “it was beyond cool” that he got the chance to bring an original Steven King script to life. The author wrote the final episode (“The Circle Closes”), which serves as a coda to his novel. It’s an ending that has been kicking around his head for years. Braver reveals that the team was “giddy” when they received the script and loved helping King end the epic the way he intended. “It was such a pleasure to bring that to life.”
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