Rebel Moon

Building the Digital Worlds of Rebel Moon

March 16, 2024 A Western AD/UPM Council VFX/Digital Technology Committee Seminar:

On March 16, DGA members in Los Angeles’ DGA Theater Two learned how practical special effects, visual effects and stunts were used to bring to life the fantastic galaxy of Director Zack Snyder’s sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon – Part 1: A Child of Fire and its upcoming sequelRebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver.

Set in a fictional galaxy ruled by an imperialistic world, whose military threatens a farming colony on a distant moon, Snyder's films tell the story of a young woman with a mysterious past who seeks out warriors from neighboring planets to help them take a stand.

The day began with a welcome from AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Chair Susan Zwerman (Vamps), who spoke a few words about the work of the Committee before introducing the panel that featured Rebel Moon’s UPM Bergen Swanson and its VFX Supervisor Marcus Taormina for a revealing conversation about the challenges of achieving Snyder’s vision moderated by VFX/Digital Technology Committee Member, UPM Billy Greenfield.

During the seminar that was illustrated by images of concept art, footage of the progression of incorporating visual effects into sequences and behind the scenes visuals, the panelists shared their experiences working on the films.

While many VFX Supervisors get involved once the project is in post-production,Taormina revealed that he was a part of the process a year before shooting began. He worked very closely with the directorial team and was heavily involved from pre-production through the final cut as he helped construct the models of the worlds, added the necessary details to the fully digital characters, and worked in conjunction with everyone from the performers to the stunt doubles to the choreographers to the hair and makeup department.

Swanson shared how he and 1st AD Misha Bukowski worked closely with Taormina to coordinate the time and resources needed to experiment with stunts, practical effects, and special effects. The directorial team had to plan out the shooting schedule months in advance. They also relied on many natural elements to tell the story including the path of the sun in the sky and where it set each day and the wheat field — an important symbol in the films — and how the wheat changed from the beginning of the harvesting season to the end. The flexibility they built into the shooting timeline allowed for extra days to accommodate the VFX-heavy action sequences during the 150 days of on set shooting as most of the project was shot on location as opposed to volumetric capture stages and experienced the complications that not having a controlled environment can bring. 

Both Swanson and Taormina agreed that making these two films was definitely a labor of love across all units and all departments. It took a lot of time and effort, but everyone worked as a cohesive team to make it happen and they are both proud of what they accomplished.

While Director Zack Snyder was unable to be there in person, his presence was felt via a series of pre-recorded interviews where he shared his process making the films and discussed how the premise of Rebel Moon came to be. Snyder revealed that he did nearly 4,000 drawings to storyboard the two films and commended the technical achievements and attention to detail the VFX teams did to make these films the visual creations what they are.

The seminar concluded with a Q&A session where the panelists answered questions from the audience.

Video from this event coming soon to the gallery below.

BIlly GreenfieldUPM Billy Greenfield (moderator) 
In his twenty-five-plus year career Billy Greenfield has worked in film, television, and commercials as an Assistant Director and UPM. His most recent credits include episodes of Dollface, Get Shorty, Never Have I Ever and Our Kind of People. He has been a member of the DGA since 2007 and serves on the Western AD/UPM Council VFX/Digital Technology Committee. 
Bergen SwansonUPM Bergen Swanson 
In addition to his work on Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, Swanson’s credits include Snyder’s Army of the Dead, Steve McQueen’s Widows, Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Martin McDonagh’s DGA Award-nominated feature, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Swanson has been a DGA member since 2009. 
Marcus TaorminaVisual Effects Supervisor Marcus Taormina 
In addition to his work on Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon, Taormina’s credits include Snyder’s Army of the Dead, Susanne Bier’s Bird Box, Dave Green's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and David Ayer's Bright and The Tax Collector


The Western AD/UPM Council's VFX/Digital Technology Committee evaluates technical craft innovations and new management systems and their relationship to the production process, and keeps members well versed and up-to-date on the technologies of the 21st Century via periodic special events. The Committee is chaired by UPM Susan Zwerman and co-chaired by UPM Brian Frankish. The Committee’s members are: Dustin Bernard, D. Scott Easton, Rick Feder, T. Seamus George, Billy Greenfield, Mark Hansson, Jules Kovisars, Cleve Landsberg, Steve Molen, Jennifer Phillips, John Rago, Brandon Riley and David Sanger.

photos by Elisa Haber
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