"Livin the ride" is what the cast and crew called it ~ and what a ride it was. 14 to 18 hour days, 6 to 7 days a week either inside a sound stage or large
aircraft hangar at Palmdale Airport, near Edwards Air Force Base.
To begin you needed to have a photo ID made to discourage the paparazzi.
For Pirates of the Caribbean III, I was only a hired gun. The Rigging
coordinator was Courtney Anderson and the lead rigger was Pete Marshall.
My most interesting part of the filming was seeing what has changed and
stayed the same since I was filming on the NZ built HMAV Bounty in Tahiti.
Back in 1985, the Stedicam was still the new hot piece of gear. Now it is
blue or green screen technology and computer generated shots.
The filming of the final scene "The Maelstrom" was almost all done with CG
technology The one constant is the boredom between takes. At least we
were keep busy dressing a yard or setting up rigging for the next scene.
This hangar was built for final assembly of
the B-1 bomber and is HUGE. Nearly 600'
long and 300' wide with a 97' high
The high desert of Palmdale - not the palm
trees of the Caribbean. At least there was
sand and it was HOT.
Sound stage at Disney Studio. This is a mock
up of the BLACK PEARL - one of many (7) we
had to rig.
There were over 3,000
overhead lights and 1 1/2"
fire nozzles to provide the
lightning and rain effects of
the final scene called the
The fire hose nozzles and lights were
supplied with high capacity pumps and
several generators in 40' containers from
outside the building.
Once inside the Palmdale hanger, the Flying Dutchman and
Black Pearl sets were very prominent.
Then it was either a long day at the Disney lot in Burbank or to the hangar at
The rigging was all done up in proper
Hollywood style - anything outside of the
frame, did not matter. This enabled us to
use shrouds that only went up the mast so
Here is a photo of myself making up a set
of shrouds for the Flying Dutchman. The
bamboo was used for making up the rig of
one of the fighting Chinese Junks in the film
Here is a photo of Pete Marshall at the
main rigging loft we set up at Disney's
warehouse at the Burbank airport
The shrouds or other bits of rigging
were then painted and made to look as
if they had been underwater for a long
A lot of special effect "blue screen" work was done. Here is picture of the set up for the
final big battle between the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl - it is VERY intense on
And the set piece for climatic fight on the main yard between Capt.
Jack and Davey Jones. Notice the wind machine in the photo on the
right. They put out a gale of wind
The BLACK PEARL and the FLYING DUTCHMAN sets were a cleaver mixture of steel beams, plywood, and masts.
The ships weighed over 100 tons each and were placed on huge hydraulic gimbals to mimic rolling and pitching.
Mounting the stern gimbal on the BLACK
The BLACK PEARL set used for the
"Green Flash" scene when the ships turns
Testing the "Green Flash" set gimbals
Stunt men rehearsing on the Green Flash"
set on her beam ends. Additional filming
was done at a large water tank at Universal
studios, using another partial BLACK
PEARL set. We did a lot of rigging.....
Inside every one of the light shades hung from the
ceiling was this lighting stack. There were over
1,000 of these hung from the ceiling and provided
the lighting flashes during the final scene "The
Don't mess with the Props Department. I
hear they eat their young.
Bending on a sail for the BLACK PEARL.
The heavy black cables in the background
are electrical cables supplying power to the
overhead light banks. There were more
cable groups all along the perimeter of the
Building the bow gimbal table for the
4" water hoses for the overhead fire
nozzles and air conditioner units. The AC
units were later mounted toward the ceiling
on heavy scaffolding. It did get HOT
when all those lights turned on, plus it was
September in the desert of Palmdale.
One of the hydraulic manifolds that
controlled the gimbals. That just looks
Even fake ships need miles of rigging. I
believe we went through almost 15 miles
of line for rigging all the ships and sets.
AC units in place. Notice the miles and
miles of electrical cord to power all the
lighting fixtures and appliances.
Yards all dressed and ready to send aloft
on the FLYING DUTCHMAN.
One of the many wooldings I passed. This
one is on the main mast of the BLACK
From aloft on the FLYING DUTCHMAN
after having bent on the lateen.
On deck of the FLYING DUTCHMAN
during final set dressing and just waiting
for the actors to arrive.
The Empress junk ready for the cameras.