Met Sean Casey and the entire crew at LSC after watching Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley is an Imax film that premiered this weekend all across the US. I went to see it on the world’s biggest Imax screen at the Liberty Science Center. There was sneak peak two days ago at the MONH in NY, but luckily the entire cast and crew of the movie were there with their vehicles. I have been a huge fan of Stormchasers on Discovery Channel since day one. Sean Casey is a film maker who has been working on this project for 8 years. He was partnered with Dr Josh Werman, a scientists studying tonardoes. Sean built a vehicle called the TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) for the express purpose of being able to survive a direct pass over by a tornado. Sean said this was *the* shot he needed for his movie. He spent many years trying to get this shot and although he filmed many tornadoes, (helping Dr Werman with his research along the way) he didn’t get the shot he needed until recently.

The show documents his tornado chasing and eventually covered the chasing done by other’s including Reed Timmer and Tim Samaras. Dr Werman eventually was able to head a massive project called Vortex 2 and at this point he and Sean for the most part seperated. Although they still helped each other out, they did not actively work together and their relationship was strained. Sean also seemed to dislike the upstart reed Timmer, something that Discovery Channel played up in the show.

When I heard that the movie was in the can and would finally eb released I wondered how it would compare to the 3 seasons of stormchasers we had seen. Would it be basically a lnog episode, only on the giant screen? Would the show increase interest in the movie? or would people say “why bother? I’ve seen this already on Discovery.” After seeing it today I can tell you that there is no comparison between watching Stromchasers on your living room tv and seeing a tornado on a giant Imax screen.

The movie is hosted by Bill Paxton (of Twister fame) which lends a certain tone to the movie. Serious and not at all Hollywood. I thought it might overshadow the movie and make it too similar to twister but it didn’t, he was an excellent choice to do the naration. The movie is in many ways better then the show because it focuses on the science and the research and leaves the personalities and the drama to the side. (not that seeing the crew do what they do isn’t interesting, but I like that this movie focused solely on the science). I give this movie 4 out 4 and highly recommend it. Try if you can to see it on a real Imax screen not one of these faux Imax screens at the local multiplex. It will be good but not as good as seeing it on true Imax.

Afterwards we got to go out and meet the crew. Sean was gracious and seemed happy to answers questions, but I think I hit a nerve when I asked how he felt about how he was portrayed on the show. If you haven’t watched, he can come off as being kind of a dick to Reed Timmer. He appears to be irritated with Reed and thinks that he’s trying to copy what he’s doing. I’m not saying he he/isn’t a dick, or that he is/isn’t justified with his feelings toward Reed, but that’s how he’s portrayed. Anyone who knows anything about reality shows knows that things are almost always made more dramatic thru the editing process. He said it “is what it is”, that it’s the nature of Hollywood and they pay the bills.

We got to speak with the driver Marcus Gutierez and he was extremely open and friendly and answered every one of our questions. We were talking so long I felt like we were monopolizing him, but he said it was no problem and he was happy to talk to us. Marcus explained that on the show it’s edited to look like there’s just the TIV but in reality there’s about 4-5 other vehicles involved including spotters to help locate tornadoes and navigate traffic, as well as the Discovery channel trucks and other support vehicles.

We spoke with Brandon who helps put the TIV in the right place for an intercept and picked his brain, as well as two members of the Vortex 2 team. We asked them technical quesations about the truck, the process, the research, the logistics of trying to do the research keep everyone safe, coordinate so many vehicles, get Sean’s shots for his movie as well as the shots for the Stormchasers show. In some respects it’s a lot of hurry up and wait because they have to get into position and then wait for things to develop. Once things develop it’s pure insanity. I have so much respect for how they do what they do.

Here’s a few pics.

Brandon, marcus, Sean and me

cab of the DOW

my son in sean casey’s chair in the TIV

the DOW

Cab of the TIV

Here are all the photos.

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One response to this post.

  1. i am a big fan of sean casey and his crew and have seen most of his work.A great film maker

    Reply

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