Scott Farrar interview: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ VFX supervisor
“It’s so fun to make a film with John, he’s such a film buff,” confides “A Quiet Place Part II” visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar. The John in question is of course writer and director John Krasinski, who Farrar says created “a much more active film” than the first go around. The pair discussed classic movies like “Jaws,” the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and even silent films as their guide posts for the feelings the sequence should evoke in audiences. “It was really fun constructing tension and suspense” with these touchstones in mind, according to Farrar. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The prologue which opens the film is a perfect example of the high octane action which puts Farrar’s digital alien creatures front and center. “Everything had to be pretty fast,” he says of animating the monsters’ initial attack on humanity. “They hear, they target, then they move,” is how he describes his “razor sharp kill machines.”
Farrar gives credit to the scripting and fast pace of the editing when detailing why the sequence is successful. The quick cut, montage style editing sees his creatures rampaging about in a whirlwind of chaos that keeps viewers on their toes. “That sort of construction just does wonders for a visual effect,” he claims. “It’s just one of the players in the commotion.” But the prologue also contains thrilling long shots which demand more skill in his digital artistry. “Visual effects quality has to be higher and higher all the time because the shots get longer,” he explains. “When I first got in the business, a long shot was 2 or 3 or 4 seconds long.” With the camera now lingering on digital creation, including the vicious aliens in this film, for minutes at a time, every bit of texture and lighting must be perfect.
The industry veteran admits that there is plenty of trial and error involved with getting a suspenseful scene just right. “The hardest part at the get-go, is creating something that has tension and gives a little bit of scare. It’s not easy,” he confesses. “There’s a lot of experimentation.” At times, that meant scrapping entire sequences of creature animation when it didn’t provide just the right thrill.
Farrar doesn’t get upset when work has to be discarded or adjusted. In fact, that type of problem solving is what has kept him in the business for decades. “Challenges are always wonderful,” he says with a smile. “It’s always like a big exploratory art project.” He remembers being presented with two career paths after he finally broke into the union on the effects team for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” He chose to stay with the ever-changing world of visual effects because “you never knew what you were going to do or how you were going to solve it.” Farrar believes that this love of exploring and finding creative solutions “is at the core of everything I do, to this day.”
Farrar won an Oscar for “Cocoon” in 1986. He earned additional nominations for “Backdraft,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Transformers,” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”