We all remember that last scene that made you cry. Free Willy, when the esteemed whale makes the big, inspiring leap to freedom. However, like most Hollywood movie moments, that moment was far less emotional behind the scenes. In fact, it required a rocket launcher.
Free Willy director Simon Wincer will celebrate its 30th anniversary on July 16. Guard“I remember saying to my rep, ‘If I can do the whale leap to freedom finale, we have a movie.'”
Wincer noted that determining “how we’re going to do this” required several meetings. It was the early days of CGI, so we shot at high tide in a small harbor and literally built a rocket launcher with an animatronic whale on it. It would fly out of the water and stop, then CGI would kick in.”
Wincer detailed the process with Slashfilm in 2016: “When the tide was high, we basically made a rocket launcher and put a full-size whale on this rocket launcher (which sank into this port) and fired the bloody thing.” said. “It went up on this track and bounced out of the water until it was about 2 meters above the water, and then it stopped. And then the shooting continued, basically as CGI.
Walter Conti, the special effects artist who created the fake humpback whales used Star Trek IV: Journey Homehe also made the animatronic orca used. Free Willy. His company, Edge Innovations, has worked on titles including: Flipper, Anaconda, Spilled, Deep Blue Sea, And Life in Water with Steve Zissou among others.
“It’s not just the machine, is it?” Conti said in an interview in 2021: Climate Magazine. “So what does it look like? How does it move? What is its behavior? How is it connected? How does it perform? … [B]lending it to create something that people connect with and connect emotionally with is truly an art.
During the movie Slash In the interview, Wincer also praised the late Basil Poledouris’s “absolutely awesome” score, which was so important to the scene. like he said Guard, There was one more element that made the final story sing: “Like any big movie moment, it was the combination of sound, emotion, and sight to get you up.”