When a film goes into production, a lot of preparation goes on during pre-production to make sure everyone is fully prepared for when the cameras start rolling. The stunt team works very closely with the actors, with fight choreography and daily workouts for up to months sometimes leading up to the first day of shooting. Training for The Matrix was unusually grueling for four months before production, with Keanu Reeves himself training for up to ten hours every day.
To prepare, the Wachowski Brothers hired Yuen Woo-Ping to get the actors ready. Yuen let their body style develop and then worked with each actor’s strength. He built on Reeves’ diligence, Fishburne’s resilience, Weaving’s precision, and Moss’s feminine grace. This all paid off in the end to create one of the best action and fight movies ever put to film. It’s become so iconic in the history of film, that it’s been replicated for years since the movie was released. It wasn’t an easy shoot, several of the actors were dinged up during production; Carrie-Anne Moss twisted an ankle, Hugo Weaving hurt his leg and required surgery and all the actors and stunt performers had their share of bumps and bruises.
It’s also a sign of how heavy the action is in a film when you go into scheduling. A simple fight scene on a normal movie takes an afternoon or one day to shoot, whereas with The Matrix, they literally spent weeks on some action sequences. A good example, the subway fight scene actually went 10 days over schedule. The opening action scene took four days to shoot, the lobby shootout took 10 days to shoot, the helicopter rescue of Morpheus took six months to plan and a week to execute. Overall, the principal photography on this film lasted for 25 weeks.
Things to look up (go to IMDB):
- The Matrix
- Wachowski Brothers
- Yuen Woo-Ping
- Keanu Reeves
- Hugo Weaving
- Carrie-Anne Moss