Masters Of Disaster
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Masters Of Disaster

An aviation disaster recreated in all it's gruesome detail for May Day
The rubble of the great Kobe earthquake of 1995
For decades, Toronto has been one of Hollywood’s most versatile back lots. Along the way, every specialized branch of the multi-headed film and television biz has sprouted up in the city. Camera, electrical, post production, locations and … plane crash and natural disaster recreations?
Yep, TV series like Discovery Channel’s Mayday recreate the drama and the horror of famous plane crashes. Art director Adrian Greenlaw and his crew of disaster dressing specialists range across the Golden Horseshoe in search of locations to litter with chunks of their custom fabricated fuselage. Another show is Trapped, depicting true life stories of escape from natural or manmade disasters, like the recreated scene pictured in the second image above of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. It’s gruesome work, but for Greenlaw, who got his start concocting fake blood recipes for crime scene recreations, it’s just another day at the office.
“It comes down to being true to the reference photographs and being sensitive to the people who experienced these disasters,” says Greenlaw. “Any reference materials we get we try to duplicate exactly. Toronto has the ability to be quite flexible in terms of available locations. Plus, the specialized crew I work with are like nomads, graphics designers and finish carpenters rolled into one.”
In the past year, Greenlaw has recreated tragic events and tales of survival set in locations as diverse as Pakistan, Greece, Japan, Russia, Finland, Chile, France and Ireland. This week, the Mayday team shoots a recreation of the 1985 crash of Air India Flight 182.
Photos by Adrian Greenlaw.