UP IN THE AIR
It’s one of the most eye-popping displays of Eleven’s amazing powers: as the young heroes are pursued by Brenner and his “bad men” through the streets of Hawkins, the gifted girl stares down a white van coming straight toward Mike and her and sends it soaring overhead. The vehicle crashes to the street below, blocking the pursuers’ path and allowing the kids to escape. Special effects coordinator Caius Man explains how he helped Eleven make the van fly:
“From our standpoint, it really wasn’t that supremely complicated. A flying car is a flying car. There were some unusual aspects to that because of the unnatural way they wanted it to fly, where it lifted sort of straight up and then tipped forward, so it took a little engineering. But it worked when we did it.
“We actually physically fired a van. We towed one down the street, and the van had in it two nitrogen cannons, two nitrogen sleeves that fired a high-density plastic slug out of the bottom of them to push it up into the air. One was just hitting a little harder than the other, which is what resulted in it going end over end the way it was supposed to.
“We built a small test in our shop. Basically, we built a plywood van with a couple of pneumatic cylinders, and we hopped it around the shop a bunch of times and were satisfied that it was going to function. [The Duffers]
wanted to see a full-size version of it to make sure that we could get it sufficiently high [so that they] could composite the children on the bicycles underneath it. What we did is, we shot it in the air, and then we had the kids ride down the street with the camera in the same position. Then we just cropped the two images together. We didn’t shoot the van over kids. That would be insane.
“We took it to a parking lot—a similar van, not exactly the same van—to a parking lot at Screen Gems, at our studio, and shot it. It launched, and everybody was excited. It landed exactly where I told them it was going to land, and pretty much everything was as it should be. On the day, we pointed three cameras at it, and we had a camera in the middle of the street that was aimed straight at it. It was the POV of the kids, and we fired it up over the camera. The first time we did it, we had a mechanical flaw. Instead of jumping up in the air, the front end jumped up and not the back, and it shark-attacked the camera in the middle of the street and destroyed it. So that didn’t work as well as we would’ve liked.
“It turned out to be a mechanical failure in a part that we replaced. The body shop fixed up the bumper in a couple of days, and we shot it again two weeks later. It was flawless and beautiful. As Shawn [Levy] described it, the gag’s so nice, we did it twice.”
Copyright © 2018 by Gina McIntyre. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.