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Achieving Wednesday's Canoe Crashing Scene Took More Work Than You Would Think

Action scenes and stunts are an integral part of many of the movies and TV shows we watch. The more exciting the gag, the better, and the more realistic it looks, the more the audience stays immersed in what it's watching. So it's up to the professionals who handle these sequences — the stunt coordinators, the second unit directors, and their crews — to make sure they come off not just as safe as possible for themselves and any cast members involved, but believably as well.

Even if a stunt lasts just a few seconds, the efforts of all involved in making it happen have to be essentially invisible. As quickly as these scenes can go by, they are the result of dozens of people working together as a unit, with hours, days, or sometimes weeks of preparation going into the sequence before cameras even start to roll.

Take, for example, a scene in the hit Netflix series "Wednesday," which stars Jenna Ortega as the unsettlingly deadpan, emotionally chilly, yet wonderfully charismatic daughter of Gomez and Morticia Addams. In Episode 2, "Woe is the Loneliest Number," Wednesday decides to compete for the Poe Cup in an annual canoeing tournament at her new school, Nevermore Academy. Her mission: To defeat nemesis Bianca (Joy Sunday), a siren who is rigging the race so that her team's canoe, The Gold Bug, can win.

With four canoes all named after Edgar Allan Poe stories in the race — The Gold Bug, Wednesday and the werewolves' The Black Cat, the vampires' The Pit and the Pendulum, and the gorgons' The Cask of Amontillado — Bianca has another siren in position to swim under the other canoes and cause as much havoc as possible. At one point, the saboteur pushes The Pit and the Pendulum into a buoy, smashing it to pieces, before he sets his sights on the boat belonging to Wednesday's team, The Black Cat.

How they got the canoe to smash into the buoy

The part of the scene in which the siren pushes the vampires' boat into the buoy begins about two minutes into the race, as seen in the above video, and lasts only about 24 seconds, but according to a report from Variety, a lot of effort — more than even stunt coordinator Brett Chan initially thought — went into getting that brief sequence right.

For starters, each actor (16 in total) had a dedicated person assigned to watch out for their safety, in addition to divers placed at other spots in the water and additional support members both on Sea-Doo watercraft and on the shore. For the crash, the buoy, of course, was fake, but since it was not made of heavy material like a real one, it tended to drift away from its mark depending on how strong the wind was. By the way, the water was pretty chilly — around zero degrees, in fact.

Since the canoe was supposed to break apart, it was rigged with special hinges between the individual sections. But those hinges also allowed water to get into the boat, and combined with the weight of the actors, it immediately began to sink even before the crash. With a truck offscreen pulling the boat toward the buoy, it would go under if it went too fast, but would not look right either if it just plodded along. "How do you make canoes look exciting?" was the dilemma that Chan says the scene posed.

In the end, additional shooting had to be done in a special indoor pool to get everything they needed for the scene, with Chan calling it "complete hell" — but not without a certain amount of satisfaction.