Behind the Scenes of Planet of the Dead - Part Six
Excerpts from Benjamin Cook’s set report in DWM 408:
[on trying to film during a sandstorm] “Not only was what we were shooting looking horrible,” James tells DWM, “because we had no light… and this massive desert landscape, you couldn’t see it… I mean, we could have been in a car park at Upper Boat… but also sand was being blown in our faces constantly. The actors couldn’t open their eyes.”
“Problem is,” says make-up designer Barbara Southcott, “it’s on high-def, so you’ll see every bit of sand on their skin.”
“You’ll have to paint it out,” make-up artist Steve Smith teases The Mill’s Dave Houghton.
“Frame by frame,” nods Dave, “grain by grain.”
“I know it’s not easy, guys,” calls out John [Bennett, First Assistant Director]. “Let’s just do what we can.” But David’s hair has turned blonde. (Daniel [Kaluuya, who plays Barclay] dubs him “Barry Manilow”.)
The sand is sticking to everything. Worst hit is Tracie Simpson, whose lips are actually yellow. This is her first episode as Doctor Who’s producer. It’s a baptism of fire - no, of wind! Of wind and sand and lipstick.
Forgetting that Dubai is four hours ahead of the UK, DWM decides to text a message of support to Russell T Davies in Cardiff - you know, something encouraging and inspiring. But somehow we manage to send one that says: “SANDSTORM! CODE RED! ABORT! ABORT!” Surprisingly, Russell messages back: “I’ve got you texting with ‘SANDSTORM!’ and Julie [Gardner, executive producer] phoning with ‘SANDSTORM!’ I’m hooting. Save yourself, Ben.” Perhaps we should hide in a Portaloo until it’s all over? (We don’t last long. It stinks in here. Besides, a queue was forming.)
Back outside, the majestic crane shots intended for this morning are abandoned. The crane is dismantled and taken away. “I thought, let’s shoot everything that we can against the bus,” James explains later. “…but the actors all looked like they’d been tarred in sand and dragged through a hedge.”
Tar sands is still being extracted. This government under Justine Trudeau is still allowing corporations to build pipeline infrastructures for the transport of tar sands through indigenous territory which answers the question as to whether or not Canada is a “rogue nation” on climate change.
No different from the previous government under Stephen Harper.
Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.
Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.
But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.
Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).
But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.
Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”
Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.
That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.
Over the past four years, the Unist'ot'en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation have literally built a strategy to keep three proposed oil and gas pipelines from crossing their land. Concerned about the environmental damage a leak could cause on land they’ve never given up, they’ve constructed a protection camp to block pipeline companies. As opposition to the development of Alberta’s tar sands and to fracking projects grows across Canada, with First Nations communities on the front lines, the Unist'ot'en camp is an example of resistance that everyone is watching.
Photographer Stuart Hall captured the Athabasca
tar sands in Canada by leaning out of the plane’s window 5,000 feet up —an
exhilarating rush despite the nausea bubbling in his stomach.
The Athabasca deposit lies beneath a
boreal forest and peat bogs, but you’d never know it from Hall’s gritty photos.
The landscape is stripped of color and texture, leaving a vast expanse of gray
and black dotted by enormous machines.
Hall shot Giga Project during
three week-long visits over three years. “It just goes on forever,” he says. Hall insists
he isn’t trying to be political, but his photos nevertheless make you examine
the ugly cost of society’s insatiable thirst for oil.
You might expect the biggest lease owner in Canada’s oil sands, or tar sands, to be one of the international oil giants, like Exxon Mobil or Royal Dutch Shell. But that isn’t the case. The biggest lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the privately-owned cornerstone of the fortune of conservative Koch brothers Charles and David.
Unist’ot’en Camp, an indigenous community in the path of three fossil fuel pipelines, is under high alert after tips of a potential police raid. They have never relinquished their land to Canada or BC by way of treaty, land sale, or surrender, and have effectively kept some of North America’s largest fossil fuel and pipeline companies from working in their territories for years.
A couple of years ago, while most Canadians were out shovelling the sidewalk or sipping a coffee at Tim Hortons, the nation quietly became a petrostate. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the son of an Imperial Oil executive, made the startling announcement in several world capitals. Harper pronounced Canada “an emerging energy superpower” and a Saudi Arabia in the making. Canada was the only non-OPEC country “with growing oil deliverability,” he boasted. “We are a stable, reliable producer in a volatile, unpredictable world.”
The driver of Canada’s conversion to petrodollars is a dirty resource called bitumen, what Harper described as an “ocean if oil-soaked sand.” This unconventional oil now shapes the Canadian economy and politics the same way the fur trade once did. Three hundred years ago, Canada supplied Europe’s fashion industry with beaver pelts. Today it pipes unrefined bitumen to U.S. refineries to keep that country’s sputtering economy supplied with oil.
Andrew Nikiforuk; Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent (2010)