Skip to main content

Edward Berger & VFX Supervisor Frank Petzold Bring Horrifying Immediacy To WWI Epic ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ – The Process

Edward Berger and VFX supervisor Frank Petzold discuss 'All Quiet on the Western Front' on The Process

Heading into production on his anti-war epic All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the seminal 1929 novel by Eric Maria Remarque, filmmaker Edward Berger was “very afraid” of creating a work that would have “any kind of visual effect feeling.”

The Netflix film, he says, “had to feel like we did it all in camera. And we did a lot.”

Berger’s visceral German-language feature has been one of the big breakouts of the 2022-2023 Oscar season, landing nine nominations including Best Picture. It charts the terrifying WWI journey of the German soldier Paul Baümer (Felix Kammerer), whose youthful idealism is broken during his time on the Western Front.

Berger notes in conversation with his fellow first-time Oscar nominee, VFX Supervisor Frank Petzold, in the final edition of Deadline’s video series The Process for Oscars Phase 2, that his goal with the film was to “give a real-time impression” of Baümer’s experiences by presenting them in “unbroken shots” as much as possible.

He goes on to explain that he and his VFX Supervisor went into All Quiet with “really precise storyboards” for battle scenes that are “amazingly close” to what’s depicted in the final movie. But in the end, this made the shoot, taking place predominantly in exteriors, no less of a challenge. Factors like “explosions blowing up in your face” and unpredictable weather meant that maintaining continuity, and an unbroken sense of reality for the viewer, would require an incredible amount of diligence. And Berger observed that over the course of production, there was “no definitive route” to solving the steady stream of VFX hurdles they were facing.

Helping him to weather the rigors of the immersive war epic’s shoot was the easygoing flexibility of Petzold, who could react to any issue on set “within split seconds” and proved “beautifully creative” even amidst this high-stress production scenario, working swiftly to hone in on the most “cost-effective, visually effective way” to get the work done.

The collaboration with Berger, Petzold adds, is “the best” he’s ever had with a director, given how “inclusive” the filmmaker was of him and his ideas.

In conversation with the VFX Supervisor on The Process, Berger discusses meeting Petzold in Budapest on AMC’s series The Terror, at a time when he had “no clue about visual effects”; treating the tanks Petzold rendered from 3D scans for All Quiet as a kind of movie monster; the way Petzold helped him navigate lighting challenges and work with explosives; carefully assessing qualities like dust in the air and camera shake from shot to shot, such that viewers wouldn’t be pulled out of the reality of the storytelling; and memorably challenging shots realized in VFX, among other topics.

Petzold speaks, in turn, to his work on All Quiet‘s planes, trains and tanks; working with very little reference material from WWI and bringing what little there was into the film; using visual effects to tweak the sense of shot geography for the viewer; figuring out the proper balance of VFX and SFX for the production; helping Berger to salvage a scene that could have had its continuity derailed by inconsistently falling snow; and more.

All Quiet also recently netted seven BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Film Not in the English Language, from a leading set of 14 nominations. Berger directed from his script written with Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell, with Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic, Adrian Grünewald, Thibault De Montalembert, Daniel Brühl and Devid Striesow rounding out the cast. Malte Grunert, Daniel Dreifuss and Berger produced the film, with Brühl, Thorsten Schumacher, Paterson and Stokell serving as executive producers.

Watch the full conversation between Berger and Petzold by clicking above.

No Comments



Deadline is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 Deadline Hollywood, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by VIP