Simulate mass destruction on an intimate scale

Challenge: Simulate widespread destruction on an intimate scale

“Cloverfield” updated the monster movie with CG effects and a DIY sensibility, but when production designer Martin Whist had to design a destroyed apartment for a climactic scene, he found no substitute for old-fashioned demolition.

“To imagine what happens with structures when they get destroyed is very hard, so I thought to actually do it would get us to the finish line quicker,” he says. Whist surveyed the location apartment, duplicated it down to the last detail using a foam-core model, and then “essentially crushed it with my hands.”

The result was drawn up into a stage built at a Downey, Calif., facility, with Whist adding only a few creative touches for effect, such as the sofa from the apartment above hanging from the collapsed ceiling.

“I don’t think that ever came onscreen, but when you’re in there, those touches really made you feel like, ‘Oh my God, this thing is about ready to go!'” he says.

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