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  • - This one never stopped, never asked to take a break,

  • never said she couldn't do anything.

  • At the end of that day it was just, it was clear

  • we'd found her, we had literally found Mulan

  • after over a year of searching everywhere

  • around the world.

  • Hi Vanity Fair, I'm Nicki Caro and I'm

  • the director of Disney's Mulan.

  • - Hi, I'm Liu Yifei and I play Mulan.

  • - Hi, my name's Yoson An, and I play Honghui.

  • - [ALL] This is Notes On A Scene

  • - Whoa

  • - You're saying this like you've never seen the movie

  • This scene is the first time we see Mulan,

  • who is known as Hua Jun in this part of the movie,

  • fight with Honghui. Both of them are conscripts

  • in a training camp.

  • Right before this scene Mulan has to contend with

  • both being in disguise as a man, but mostly

  • not being able to show the strength she has.

  • In order to maintain her disguise,

  • she has to disguise all of herself.

  • And so we enter this scene with all the conscripts

  • gathered for a training session.

  • In terms of the movie, we are in the middle of China,

  • the vast country of China, but to shoot this scene

  • we were in New Zealand, in a beautiful place called

  • the Ahuriri Valley. It was also the location for

  • our epic battle scene once and a number of other

  • smaller scenes in the movie.

  • The first shot involves a very big crane shot.

  • It starts off in a high wide and you see all

  • the conscripts gathered below.

  • Then the crane descends and moves

  • along a track really fast, then has to

  • come to a sudden stop, and the crane

  • telescopes out into the action and

  • finds these two sparring.

  • - [Yoson] Me picking a fight with Mulan

  • - [Nicki] Yeah, you enjoying it very much,

  • all I remember from that shot

  • - Yeah

  • - Was the sound of all the guys

  • hanging off the crane trying to stop it

  • in time to telescope out between.

  • - I think we rehearsed this scene for like

  • three months. You did a really good job with that.

  • - Thank you, you too

  • - Oh thanks

  • - [Nicki] I mean a sequence like this is

  • a long time in the planning, it gets written first,

  • and then the stunt coordinator comes in and,

  • with two stand-ins, works out the action, and then

  • he brings it to me and I work on it as well,

  • editing it, and then we hand over to you guys

  • - Yeah

  • - So that you learn the particular moves,

  • and of course both of you had stunt doubles

  • - Yeah

  • - In this scene, but you do a lot of

  • your own work as well.

  • A sequence like this is made of so many

  • different shots, and its shot by two units

  • over a period of its either two or three days

  • - Yes yes

  • - I love this, now it's serious this is

  • a girl that hasn't wanted to put

  • a spotlight on herself in any way,

  • but now she is all emotion

  • - Yeah

  • - And she's burst and he, on the other hand,

  • having a brilliant time, which just

  • pisses her off.

  • - We're going "Yes! Bring it!"

  • - Yeah

  • - To be honest, even though my character,

  • Honghui, was getting his ass beat,

  • I shouldn't say that, even though he was getting whooped

  • by Mulan, I feel like he was still

  • having a good time, until she was like

  • no I can't show too much.

  • - Yeah, but as far as your character is concerned

  • here this is just another guy right?

  • - Yeah yeah

  • - A guy that he is forming a friendship with,

  • and enjoying being around and cared

  • and who actually has all of these crazy skills

  • that he hadn't shown anybody

  • - Yeah just out of the blue

  • - You did that right?

  • - Yeah

  • - Yifei, that's actually Yifei's strong

  • balletic background making it possible

  • for you to put your leg back but

  • - Oh that wasn't that bad because

  • that wasn't all the way so

  • - Right

  • - And it's a kick so you don't have to like stay there

  • - Yeah yeah yeah yeah

  • - And this is where Mulan starts to lose control,

  • but we also see how much control she has over her body,

  • so emotionally she's losing control,

  • but physically she's showing everybody what she's got

  • and you can see

  • - I like their reactions so cute!

  • - And you can see these guys are

  • - Let's draw little mustaches on those!

  • - Oh no no no no oh Cricket

  • - I'm gonna draw a little mustache on Cricket

  • - We start to see by the reactions of the guys,

  • first of all they're laughing because

  • you're getting your ass kicked

  • - Yep

  • - But then they are kind of contending with

  • Hua Jun's power, and that's a little

  • confusing for some of them, particularly

  • the ones who aren't very bright.

  • When we prepare for a sequence like this,

  • it's not just preparing the choreography, but

  • preparing the bodies, and the minds,

  • and the stamina of the people that are

  • going to be doing the work.

  • So these two and the other guys who you see in the scene

  • were in physical training, intense physical training,

  • for three months.

  • - Yes, or longer actually

  • - Right, do you want to talk about that Yoson?

  • - I think we, on top of stunt training,

  • which was maybe two to three hours a day

  • - For you two to three hours? Not for me

  • - Oh so you were better than him?

  • - I was longer!

  • - You were longer? Oh.

  • - Sorry to interrupt please continue

  • - We went through some other training, we did

  • strengthening conditioning on top of that,

  • which got us into that warrior spirit.

  • What you see here is really through our training.

  • - Yeah, it means you guys can walk on to set

  • and be really well prepared, not just physically

  • and not just with your cog- with the choreography,

  • but critically emotionally prepared.

  • - Yeah yeah yeah

  • - They can drop in from the 21st Century

  • - True

  • to Ancient China

  • This is actually a very complicated sequence to shoot,

  • because it requires two actors, two stunt doubles,

  • three cameras, pretty much three camera positions,

  • so we are looking this way of course, to Mulan,

  • we're looking this way to Honghui, and we're

  • we've got the camera kind of traveling

  • very quickly down the track behind these spears

  • which is this really kind of amazing

  • graphic and strobe-y image.

  • And it means it's possible for me to

  • use your stunt double, Yashei, in one of those shots,

  • and that is Yashei on camera, but because

  • we've got the strobing of the spears

  • in the front of the lens we totally get away with it.

  • When you're scheduling a scene like this,

  • as much as I would've liked to do all of it,

  • in the main unit, my schedule only

  • allows me to be shooting the actors, not the

  • stunt people so its almost like, sort of,

  • embroidery, trying to get all the shots correct

  • and have two units shooting the same size shot

  • with different performers in the same lighting conditions

  • over two days, which is really difficult

  • as we know in New Zealand,

  • because the weather changes so much.

  • Here we go, oh still enjoying yourself Yoson,

  • - [Yoson] Yeah yeah

  • - But not for too much longer.

  • This is an interesting move because this is where

  • you see male strength like get the spear in there

  • and just like kick the spear out of her hands,

  • and she's having none of it.

  • - The rhythm is so good, the rhythm is telling the mood

  • - And all of that is worked out like months before

  • we keep refining it and keep refining it,

  • so when we get on set and we've only got

  • a certain amount of hours to do our work,

  • that we're not going 'oh what if we did this

  • or what if we did this'

  • this movie was not made like that.

  • - [Yoson] Look at how focused she is

  • - She's yeah and you too my friend

  • - I'm like 'what's she gonna throw at me next?'

  • - [Nicki] Yeah so now it's very very intense between them,

  • and you can see from the reactions of our other guys here,

  • good, doing well, possibly,

  • not quite looking at the right place,

  • but it's okay

  • - [Yoson] Is he looking at the camera?

  • - He might be but points off, this one very good.

  • And a lot of those are stunt people,

  • they're our kung-fu masters, and then additionally

  • there are a bunch of extras.

  • In this scene there was about a hundred I think.

  • This movie is very costume driven.

  • Costume is incredibly important in this part of the movie

  • because we're talking about all the guys

  • coming to training camp and starting to learn

  • how to wear armor. This is your practice armor right?

  • - This is it's a lot lighter than the actual armor.

  • There's the shoulder piece here,

  • and then there's a chest piece,

  • and then there's also the one that guards the quads,

  • but also

  • - And then you've got the wrist guards

  • - Oh yeah

  • - This is connected to here this is connect

  • to here that's how they wrap it

  • - Yeah

  • - The first time we took 40 minutes to put it on,

  • the last time past it's getting faster but still

  • taking about an ho- half an hour

  • - It takes a while but it looks really good

  • - Yeah it looks good

  • - And also you can't hear through remember this,

  • this takes a while too

  • - And that's really, that was genius,

  • our costume designer, Bina Diageler,

  • came up with this idea because, of course,

  • all men in that time had really long hair,

  • therefore it went up in a top-knot,

  • to make wigs for the hundreds of people

  • we needed to make wigs for was,

  • it just wasn't a possibility,

  • so these head wraps became a part of the costume,

  • with a little like a little cup underneath.

  • - It was like a straw cup to emulate the hair bun

  • - I have a real one, yeah

  • - You've got a real top-knot, and you guys had wigs

  • - Yes

  • - Underneath those but everybody else had the head wear.

  • Even though this movie is an action movie,

  • and the action's explosive and it's very raw,

  • and very visceral, it was also as important, to me,

  • to make a movie that was very beautiful.

  • Like, photographically, beautiful.

  • Along with the stunning landscapes,

  • we have a production design that has

  • both the incredibly and intensely colorful imperial city

  • when Mulan gets dressed for the match maker,

  • it's really gorgeous, but then, when Mulan goes to war

  • in the middle of the movie, we go into