Picture of How to build a film set (and how it got blown up)

In this Instructable I'm going to show you how we built a full-sized town and then blew it up. Under most circumstances it is highly recommended that you don't go around and blow things up, especially towns, so please don't try this at home. If you must blow up a town, please do it in a controlled environment, preferably alongside people who specialize in pyrotechnics, and with the permission of your local governmental bodies. And always wear your safety boots.

When I was a kid I used to build Popsicle stick bridges and then test their strength by trying to blow them up with firecrackers; yeah, I was one of those kids. When Tina and I were asked to build a WW2-era German town and then blow it up, well, it was pretty much impossible to say no - we love watching things explode. Working under the production designer Andy Berry, a small group of us prop and set-builders spent a month and a half on a military shooting range in eastern Canada for a television show called D-Day to Victory (it's a pretty spectacular show) working with masons, brick-layers, roofers, etc, putting up full scale buildings. A special fx team came in and blew up everything we built (it felt a bit like being a Dozer on the Fraggle Rocks). I myself got to rebuild and then ignite a vintage Volkswagon Thing.

This montage was assembled by the director of photography Jeremy Benning. Amaze balls!

A quick note about the show: the premise was that we would strive to make everything we built as real as possible. This meant using real bricks, shingles, 2x4 stock, real vintage cars and trucks, real WW2 tanks, real weapons and ammunition, real explosions. We were re-enacting stories and memories documented by WW2 veterans and we were trying to be as accurate as possible. There was NO CG ANIMATION on this show. If you watch the video clip you'll see some incredible footage - the show filmed the explosions using Phantom cameras encased in super thick steel housing containers (these cameras shoot at 1000 frames per second so you can slow the video down so much that you can actually see the shock waves coming off the detonations).

This is pretty cool. It's sad to see some of the older vehicles bite the bullet (like the old Ford and that target Sherman) but I guess you have to work with whatever you can.

Do you think you could do an instructable that goes more in-depth about building the various tanks and trucks (particularly that Hetzer SPG dug in beside the building)?
damianzuch (author)  Junkyard Dawg2 years ago
Ha! Good eye - I had to go back through the photos to find the hetzer! And that one is a total fake, Hugo welded a bunch of sheet steel together and threw on some dozer tracks, I painted it green and threw on some camo netting and from a distance it looks pretty real. Unfortunately there's not too much to the build, we bought the shells of old rusted trucks off farmers and auto ads, screwed some schwaz to them or gave them a rough paint job and then blew'em up. They weren't functional and most had their engines removed.
Sounds pretty simple. I figured the Hetzer was a fake (there's only a dozen or so still left on Earth, I think?) but it still looks good to me

Everything looks very good in general. I know that, if I was to stumble across those trucks (and the whole town) in the woods, I would probably think about turning around and running.
seeing as you built a whole town/village then blew it up i think i am quite right to say "must have cost a bomb!"
That is unbelievably cool.
ceanes2 years ago