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Iron Man 3 kicks off the summer movie season today with the latest chapter in Tony Stark’s blockbuster screen journey. Following two successful Iron Man films and a supporting role in 2012’s The Avengers, this latest project revisits a battle-hardened superhero under the sharp guidance of writer/director Shane Black.
The film was primarily shot in Wilmington, North Carolina – the biggest production of its kind in the area – and employed a massive crew that included 22 alumni representing our Film and Computer Animation programs. Among this group were frequent collaborators Chrys Blackstone (electrician) and Jeff Wallace (set lighting technician) who worked together on the film’s lighting team.
We last spoke with Chrys and Jeff following their work on the first Hunger Games movie (also filmed in North Carolina), and caught up with them before Iron Man 3’s premiere to learn about the production of this summer’s first major release.
FS: How do you begin to describe what it’s like being on a project of this scale?
Chrys Blackstone: It was just massive, the biggest thing I’ve ever worked on. We shot in Wilmington at Screen Gems Studios. They have 10 stages there and they took up almost all of them with these giant set pieces. But the shoot itself was surprisingly easygoing, and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Everyone was so professional and on point, and it was the least stressful set I’ve ever been on. I was a comic book fan growing up, and I felt like a kid again walking in every day.
FS: Iron Man 3 features an impressive talent pool with actors Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Kingsley, then Shane Black as director – how was it being around that caliber of artists every day?
Jeff Wallace: It was obviously an amazing cast and crew. Shane Black’s a great guy and did a really good job with it. I’m a fan of his writing, and I think he brought something different. For me personally it was a big achievement to work such a great director of photography, John Toll, who has won two back-to-back Academy Awards in his career for Braveheart and Legends of the Fall. Just an amazing guy to work with, and something I never thought I’d be doing ten years ago when I graduated.
FS: The expectations for it are pretty high. Having been there on set how do you think the final film turned out?
JW: This Iron Man is pretty out of the box. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised about where his character goes. It’s definitely not ordinary for that series.
CB: Each one of the Marvel movies has something to live up to – they want each one to be better than the last – and just watching the scenes being filmed I think this is above and beyond. Fans aren’t going to be disappointed, and it’ll be a cool thing for me to look back on in my career, knowing that I was able to put my hand into the creation of the Marvel world.
The 22 Full Sail grads who worked on Iron Man 3 are:
- Schuyler Anderson (Computer Animation, 2011; visual effects tracking artist)
- Maxime Besner (Computer Animation, 2009; stereo compositor)
- Chys Blackstone (Film, 2003; electrician)
- Shane Bouthiller (Computer Animation, 2010; stereoscopic conversion)
- Tasha Carlton (Computer Animation, 2011; stereoscopic artist)
- Monica Castro (Computer Animation, 2011; stereoscopic artist)
- Juan Colon (Computer Animation, 2009; matchmove artist)
- Eric Collins (Film, 2005; grip)
- Brent Christy (Film, 2009; second unit electric)
- Christian Labarta (Film, 1999; key set production assistant: second unit)
- Cody Lassiter (Film, 2012; assistant security manager)
- Michael Murphy (Computer Animation 2010 stereoscopic conversion)
- Lyndsey Pendley (Computer Animation, 2010; stereoscopic paint artist)
- Vincent Rosas (Computer Animation, 2009; stereoscopic artist)
- Rob Shelton (Film, 2013; confidentiality production assistant)
- Emanuel Siu (Computer Animation, 2011; stereoscopic depth artist)
- Donald Strubler, Jr. (Computer Animation, 2009; digital compositor)
- Eric Timm (Film, 2010; stereoscopic artist)
- John Trotter (Computer Animation, 2009: stereoscopic conversion)
- Jeff Wallace (Film, 2003; set lighting technician)
- Jeffrey Warnhoff (Computer Animation, 2011; stereoscopic conversion)
- Alex Wolfe (Computer Animation, 2009; visual effects quality control)