|The movie production of 'Tai-Pan', 1986, in China was a nerve-racking adventure for producer
Raffaella de Laurentiis and the entire team.
The crew consists of highly experienced experts, but filming in China, under communist
Chinese censorship, was new territory for everyone involved.
Special Effects Supervisor Kit West brought his full compliment of Sp/Fx boys to China
(Ron Hone, Dino Galiano,...). Art Director Bejamin Fernandez and Production Designer
Anthony Masters made the best of the exotic conditions.
And DOP Jack Cardiff always had to be careful what he filmed.
'Tai-Pan' - Difficult conditions, disputes and exotic locations, a real experience.
|Kit West:"I understand things have changed a lot these days, and there is a vast more
cooperation from the Chinese government, but I found shooting there very
problematical. This I think was due to the fact that they did not understand
what I was doing, and there was a certain amount of distrust.
This of course often can happen with the Special Effects Department in many 'strange lands'.
I have to say this all changed when we moved to Macao, which was altogether
an easier place to work in.
Then it was 'heaven' when finishing off in Hong Kong."
Any problems with the chinese crew?
Kit:"...sometimes! Well, there seemed to me to be a 'ringleader' in most of the disputes.
It got so bad, that I turned to my production office and requested to 'lay off'
the individual. It turned out that I was not allowed to do anything like that.
From the next morning on, the 'trouble maker' turned up and sat crossed legged,
outside my workshop, and stayed there the same hours as the rest of us, for the rest
of the movie. That's 'show buisness' Chinese style.
I MUST POINT OUT, A LOT MAY HAVE CHANGED BY NOW.
One thing I have to say is the hotel we were in, in Canton, was very good, and
the bar facilities were excellent, once they understood how much a film crew
can consume, they took on extra bar staff, all very pretty Chinese girls,
although they were taboo."
|The versatile spanish artist Emilio Ruiz del Rio was also part of the 'Tai-Pan' crew in
Here is glass painting Emilio did for 'Tai-Pan' - A fleet of ships anchored in a bay with
a new coast in the background.
|The thin glass plate was positioned in front of the camera for the final in camera
|Many of the 'Tai-Pan' crew, or should I say 'survivors', were previously part of
the exciting and large-scale 'DUNE' production in Mexico.
The spanish model miniature magician Emilio Ruiz del Rio (left) explains his ideas
to producer Raffaella de Laurentiis and Director David Lynch.
Learn more about 'DUNE' here: Dune Sp/Fx