Shazam standing in front of the counter at a convenience store.

David. F. Sandberg Shows Us How to Solve Filmmaking Problems with Shazam!

The Shazam! director makes a video on how he creatively tackles issues on set.
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SPOILER ALERT: Mild spoilers for the ending of Shazam!

There’s nothing better than walking into a theater, sitting down and getting completely absorbed in a movie. Film has the awesome power to transport us with thrilling stories and epic adventures. But it’s easy to forget just how much painstaking work goes into creating any film, let alone a special effects-laden superhero movie. Sit through the 10 minutes of credits, and you’ll see exactly how many people it takes to send Spider-Man to Europe.

Shazam! director David F. Sandberg, like many filmmakers before him, describes filmmaking as a series of problems that need to be solved. In a new behind the scenes featurette, he walks us through a handful of problems he encountered while shooting the superhero comedy. Sandberg shows us the issues inherent in solving big problems, i.e. how to make Shazam fly (the answer is a trio of men in blue suits pushing Zachary Levi around on a giant tuning fork), but also focuses on the smaller issues that most of us miss.

For example, during the flying scene, Sandberg realized after filming that a group of crew members were standing around in the shot. He was so concerned with getting the flying right that he missed that background issue. With his VFX team, he solves the problem by digitally inserting some shopping bags and a mop and bucket, integrating the crew as background mall workers and shoppers.

Sandberg then takes on an even smaller problem that required multiple steps to fix. In the scene where Billy Batson runs away from his foster family, we see three of his foster siblings step outside the house in their winter clothes before going back inside. This was a deliberate choice due to the costume designer’s mandate that the kids must be wearing the same outfits throughout the rest of the movie, which culminates in an outdoor nighttime scene in the middle of winter.

Adding an extra complication, actress Darla Dudley (who plays the adorable Faithe) was unavailable to film the exterior scene. The solve? Sandberg had her be slow to get ready, struggling to put on her shoes while everyone is outside. It’s a simple fix that unexpectedly makes the film better: Faithe’s slowness pays off when her powers manifest themselves as super speed.

Sandberg’s video is a funny commentary on YouTube videos that highlight filmmaking mistakes. He pokes fun at his own continuity error in his 2016 horror film Lights Out. Sandberg ends the video by saying, “You’re going to have some sort of problem to solve in every scene … but that’s kind of the fun of it. And when you come up with a solution that actually makes things better, it’s awesome.”

It’s a charming look behind the scenes at one of this year’s most unexpectedly delightful superhero films. If you missed it in theaters, Shazam! is currently available on all digital platforms. The Blu-ray and DVD hit stores on July 16th.

(via SyfyWire, image: Warner Bros.)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.