Extremely Dangerous - Behind the Scenes (4)

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Down the dark alley...the thugs rehearse....

The cast and crew return from lunch at half past two.

The production crew begin to dismantle the camera tracks and the wooden blocks they're mounted on, for quick reassembly around the corner and down the road. Two new thugs take their places in the pedestrian precinct alongside the canal, while the others, freshly made up to reflect an assortment of cuts, scrapes and bruises, line up in front of the Range Rover. On cue, Sean begins to run, the camera travelling with him. A quick fearful glance down the precinct at the two actors who are now also in hot pursuit - and suddenly Neil Byrne is surrounded by baddies in a dark, narrow side street, and there is no escape.

Sean and the baddies rehearse

Watching just out of the range of the camera, backs to the brick wall that delineates the Rochdale Canal, is a small cross-section of Manchester's population, who have taken advantage of the break for lunch to wander down Canal Street to see what all the commotion is about. This location shoot has not been publicised - in fact, everything about today has been very cloak and dagger, with last minute directions and instructions being sent by fax only a day or two before, and tomorrow's Call Sheets being distributed one by one from a well-guarded cardboard box. (In fact, tomorrow the cast and crew will be at Manchester Airport and it will be in the papers -- the sight of Sean Bean running down a glass-walled connecting tunnel firing off a gun is not something the everyday traveller quite expects to encounter on his or her way through the terminal.)

Choreographing the fight

Today's spectators are by and large curious office workers who inhabit the general vicinity of the Manchester's gay district, which we are smack in the middle of. But because the action is moving away from Canal Street and off into a smaller, darker side road, the security at both ends has been relaxed. People stroll down the street on their way to the pub, stop at the elevated camera tracks and peer around the corner.

"Right," says one beaming woman, hurrying back to her boyfriend after a brief glimpse. "I've seen HIM. Now I'm happy!"

Behind us, assorted crew members discuss the actors. "Are those our police or their police?" one of them wonders, curiously, as two uniformed extras from Cops on the Box help themselves to the free coffee on a table outside the pub.

Beside us, the makeup ladies are discussing how they will approach the subject of adding a realistic looking cut to Sean's arm once the fight scenes involving the iron pipes have been shot. They have the tools of their trade packed into carry-bags which have been parked in a "safe area" beside the black canvas chair with SEAN BEAN written across its back in red script. They've already added a painful-looking contusion to the head of the actor who was smashed with the wine bottle before lunch. Their blood, Julie notes, comes in one litre bottles, carries a French label, and costs £12.


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