The visual effects team for Army of the Dead deserves an award.
Army of the Dead is finally out on Netflix, and as a ride-or-die zombie movie fan, I loved every single second of it.
And just like with every Zack Snyder movie, I love hearing about his filmmaking process and how he brought his vision to the screen.
Well, Army of the Dead presented one challenge in particular that Zack and Debbie Snyder didn’t foresee when they filmed the movie: they’d have to digitally add in Tig Notaro months after filming wrapped.
Originally, Chris D’Elia played Peters, the helicopter pilot, but after several sexual misconduct allegations in June 2020, the Army of the Dead team made the decision to cut D’Elia out of the movie.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Zack said it was a “fairly easy” decision to remove D’Elia altogether, however it was an “expensive one.” While he didn’t give an exact number, Zack said the reshoots cost “a few million.”
The millions of dollars spent by Netflix went towards digitally erasing D’Elia from all the footage, reshoots with Tig Notaro, and visual effects. And, on top of all of this, reshoots took place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, Tig being immunocompromised — she’s a cancer survivor — and just how far along post-production already was, Tig actually filmed all of her scenes completely alone.
In fact, Dave Bautista — who leads the movie as Scott Ward — still hasn’t met Tig, even though they shared numerous scenes together in Army of the Dead.
So, what ended up happening was Zack and the visual effects team replicated the camera angles and “physical spaces” from the original Army of the Dead scenes in a studio in California, so Tig could be fit into the movie as seamlessly as possible.
Because not only did Tig have to film all of Peters’ big scenes, but she also had to film all of the small moments when she’s simply in the background.
With D’Elia being completely edited out — instead of Tig’s performance just being pasted on top of his — Tig had a little more “freedom” to move around, which gave everything a more natural feeling.
Also, Tig couldn’t ad-lib any lines. Her dialogue had to be word for word what D’Elia said because the other characters’ reactions and lines were already recorded.
Zack explained that some of the “trickiest shots” to recreate were actually when Tig’s character is walking with the others and it involved a lot of post-production work.
There was only one scene Tig filmed with another actor. Ana de la Reguera came to set for a “half day,” just to shoot a moment when Maria walks Peters to the helicopter.
And all of their hard work paid off. Even before Army of the Dead was released, Tig was trending on Twitter just from her one moment in the trailer.
Watching Army of the Dead now, I can’t imagine it without Tig Notaro and her hilarious comedic timing.
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