Building Fear: Way Stations and Vehicles

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At the other end of the soundstage where Nemec created the tundra set, he built a way station where the mercs were intended to take shelter when they arrived on the planet. Designed with the idea that it was dropped off a decade earlier, the way station was a flat pack station that could be reassembled by a couple of people. It was set up with everything one needs to survive on the planet for long stretches of time—a comm center, maps, kitchen, latrine, berthing area, maintenance space and a recreation area.

Once assembled, the station would be usable by research scientists, explorers and/or mercenaries on a stopover. “It was designed to be utilitarian, somewhat military, with bits of old-school hard stuff, just in case everything fails,” says Nemec. “It was definitely not a place that one stays in for a comfortable getaway. We kept it relatively monochromatic with color accents here and there, such as yellow handrails, orange fire extinguishers and such. We wanted it to feel the effects of the elements in the environment, so we tried to let that inside in a way that affected the general patina in the way station. Everything is a bit dulled down.”

Outside the way station is the location where the mercenaries’ spaceships land. Again, wanting to stay away from green screen, Nemec had a fully equipped spaceship commissioned, complete with functional doors and ramps. It even used actual landing gear from a large 747 jet. Like the way station and some of the other large props, there is a certain futuristic-retro feel to the design. The spaceships were no different.

Designed to be tactical cargo ships, they were built with everything from instrumental panels and controls in the cockpit to power modules and sleeping harnesses. “We went through a lot of permutations,” recalls the production designer. “We started out with a design that was very sleek, but we weren’t finding a balance. We then looked back into some of the Necromonger warships, but we didn’t feel that was right either. We wanted to stay with something that was real, yet futuristic: a ship that seemed as if it could fly, do vertical takeoffs and landings, as well as travel through space.”

What many of the cast enjoyed on set was hopping on the jet hogs, the vehicles that Boss Johns’ crew off-load from their ship and use to travel short distances on the planet’s terrain. In keeping with the retro-futuristic theme, Nemec designed the jet hogs to be reminiscent of a chopper motorcycle, but instead of wheels, the machines hover and are powered by air turbines and jet propulsion. “In the beginning, the idea was to go very sleek—much more of a Yamaha approach—but nothing fit with the hog world,” recalls Nemec. “We’re very happy with the way the jet hogs turned out.”

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