Filmmaking: <I>Fall</I> director Scott Mann
Issue: July/August 2022

Filmmaking: Fall director Scott Mann

From the producers of 47 Meters Down comes Fall, a new feature in which best friends Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner) try to conquer their fears and push their limits by climbing an abandoned radio tower. After reaching the top of the 2,000-foot tower, they find themselves stranded and now need to test their skills to survive.

The feature was directed by Scott Mann, who co-wrote the project with Jonathan Frank. Lionsgate released Fall to theaters on August 12th. Here, Mann shares his experience working on the film. 

What were some of the bigger challenges of bringing the script to the screen?

“The greatest challenge was capturing and shooting at height. Wanted to shoot the entire movie for real - with no studio or green screens - (which) led us to shoot the majority of the movie on a tall tower structure at the tip of a 2,000-foot mountain in the middle of the desert. 

“Access was very difficult, but shooting at that height meant everyone was in the moment for real and the majority of footage is actually what we captured on camera, minus a few wire paint outs. When we looked ’straight down’ we took footage shot in the desert, at the base tower site, and built and tracked in a set extension. That allowed us to remove the tip of the mountain - and crew, etc. - allowing all the footage to stay real and never CGI’d. Shout out to Matt Gardocki, Koala FX and Tunnel Post for bringing this all together. 

“Alongside this, the other huge innovation was using state of the art VFX technologies from Flawless that allowed us to actually change dialogue and scenes in the movie without having to go back up the mountain and reshoot/pick-up. The Flawless AI system is able to render and edit human faces and performance with incredible realism, using only new audio, so I was able to hone the movie in the post process with far more accuracy than ever before. It's the first ever movie to feature neural rendering VFX and given my personal involvement with the company, I’m really proud at what was pulled off.”
Speaking of technology, what cameras did you shoot with to help create that feeling of isolation and anxiety?

“Given the scale and height, we took the decisions to shoot the movie for IMAX. We shot on large format - Arri LF - and given the importance of the theatrical experience, we hooked up the director monitor to a VR unit, so that the DP - McGregor - and I could check and frame shots in a virtual IMAX cinema experience to see how it would feel in on the big screen. It changed the way we shot the movie for sure. Much wider, bigger, far more theatrical. I think it really played [into the] cinematic height and grammar of the movie and really payed off. The bigger the screen the movie can be seen on, the better, so that the vertical height can be perceived in its most immersive way.”

Can you talk about the editing process?

“Given the nature of the movie, its was very important for me to craft it in the most immersive way possible, but because of pandemic restrictions/issues, it meant the editor - Rob Hall - and I were 6,000 miles apart, cutting largely on our laptops. To counter this, we would render out the sequences over to the VR unit, so we could view cuts and scenes in the virtual IMAX cinema. 

“Rob Hall is an incredible editor, and how he uses sound, in particular, was vital for the film to fully immerse the audience into the experience. Rob is obsessive about crafting both the visuals and the sound to be reflective of the finished film so we can judge it properly and iterate the movie into the most powerful, anxiety-driving vertigo experience possible!”