Go Behind the Scenes on JC Chandor's Epic Second Feature 'All Is Lost'

All Is LostTwo years ago, JC Chandor's first feature film Margin Call did the unthinkable. It humanized the people responsible for the banking disaster of 2008. His second feature, the devastatingly titled All Is Lost, attempts an even more outlandish filmmaking feat. It's a dialogue-free, yet entirely gripping story of a single character, masterfully played by Robert Redford, who is marooned at sea when his boat is irreparably damaged by a stray shipping container. What's even more impressive, from a technical filmmaking standpoint, is that most of the effects in this epic survival tale were accomplished practically. Here's a brief look at how it all came together.

Before we get to the behind-the-scenes, here's the trailer for All Is Lost, as well as a brief video about what Chandor was trying to accomplish with this film:

It's clear that the immediate story and tone of All Is Lost demand a sense of immaculate realism from the myriad special effects that were necessary to make this film. For that reason, a good portion of these effects were shot practically with several different boats and a hell of a lot of water.

Here's are two behind-the-scenes looks at All Is Lost. The first comes courtesy of Yahoo Movies, and the second comes from HitFix.

In the past week, we've talked extensively about CGI-driven filmmaking versus practical filmmaking, and whether or not the former is supplanting the latter in the modern filmmaking landscape. There seemed to be a consensus that computer-driven filmmaking was the future, whether we like it or not. Films like All Is Lost, however, prove that practical effects still have a place in the future of filmmaking because they have the ability to provide a sense of immediacy that is simply not able to be captured through CGI.

What do you guys think? Have you seen All Is Lost yet, and if so, did its use of practical effects serve the story and the style of filmmaking? Let us know down in the comments!

[via FilmmakerHitFix & Yahoo Movies]

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Your Comment


I think that all of this is very laudable, but this is how everybody used to do it just 3 decades ago. It's great that there are still people who prefer this to CGI, but I don't think it's anything marvelous.

January 4, 2014 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


I see your point, but it's quite impressive when you consider how old redford is, and how dangerous some of these stunts are. I think it's pretty ballsy even getting a studio to sign off on these sort of things when they could just push it down the pipe to Framestore etc and have the vfx guys thanklessly tire away on it.

January 5, 2014 at 1:57AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Can't think of a film in the last 10 years that has a more effective or enticing title. I had to watch it as soon as I read the name.
When I learnt it was a Robert Redford one-hander I was doubly sold.

It's an impressive film. I only feel sorry for it coming out in the same year as 'Gravity', as they are essentially the same film.

January 5, 2014 at 12:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Fresno Bob

Thank you for this great insight and Never Give Up!

January 5, 2014 at 7:33AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


great film …congrats to filmmaker and star!!! see you at sundance

January 5, 2014 at 7:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


Whether CGI or not - the story is fantastic an it is filmed with an real profound understanding of how film works, that searches itself in most of the modern films. It is nearly an example for lectures at film school, how great suspense, camerawork and acting are functioning together although it has no dialogue.It would be very interesting to watch it as a silent-film to analyze the power of the pictures isolated. For me it is a film-film that uses its tools with a delicate gusto.
But one shouldn't compare it to "Pi", because the genres and the artistic premises are too different. "Pi" is a fairy tale, this one is a drama and a metaphor for live.
My uttermost compliments! It will at least get one academy award!

January 6, 2014 at 2:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Alexander Machytka

My only question is, how is it "dialogue-free" and yet rated PG-13 for "Brief Strong Language"?

January 11, 2014 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM