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Associated Press
This publicity film image released by Magnolia Pictures shows Mads Mikkelsen, left, and Alicia Vikander in a scene from "A Royal Affair." The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the Foreign Language Film category. The 85th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, on ABC.

Oscar foreign film nominees reveal movie magic

LOS ANGELES – A few old-school video cameras, a cloned apartment, a sea of digital sharks, and an actress who helped herself to craft services were just a few tricks that international filmmakers employed in their Oscar nominated films.

The five directors nominated for this year’s foreign language film Academy Award revealed on Saturday how they used movie magic:

– “No,” an account of the advertising tactics used in the 1988 campaign to oust Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, was filmed with U-Matic video cameras to give the film a grainy VHS aesthetic similar to the political commercials it depicted.

“We got used to it, and we just started loving it,” said director Pablo Larrain, who noted that the vintage cameras had less resolution than an iPhone. “When we get to see regular movies now, they look so sharp!”

– Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke based the apartment where much of his relationship drama “Amour” takes place on his parents’ own home because it felt comfortable and inspired him when crafting the film about an elderly French couple. The apartment was built on a soundstage and digital effects were used in windows to make the cityscape come alive.

“It was an exact reproduction,” said Haneke through a translator. “Not because their story had anything to do with what was happening on screen, but it gave me ideas and helped me find solutions when writing the script.”

– The 18th century Danish period piece “A Royal Affair,” which centers on the forbidden romance between the Queen of Denmark and royal physician and minister Johann Struensee, was filmed in Prague, not Denmark.

“No street in Copenhagen looks remotely like it used to look in the 1760s,” said director Nikolaj Arcel. “But you can actually go to Prague, and they’ve quite beautifully kept some of these old streets and restored them.”

– Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, the directors of the Norwegian film “Kon-Tiki,” digitally recorded their historical drama about the treacherous 1947 sea voyage of adventurer Thor Heyerdahl so they wouldn’t run out of film.

Ronning said the filmmakers shot 140 terabytes worth of material – roughly about the size of 6,000 Blu-ray discs. They captured the boatload of footage because “Kon-Tiki” was shot in both Norwegian and English and included over 500 special effects shots.

– Kim Nguyen, the Canadian director of “War Witch,” said his Congo-set drama about a young woman who becomes embroiled in an African rebellion was filmed chronologically, and that Rachel Mwanza, the film’s 16-year-old star from the Congo, gained weight during production. It wasn’t an issue because her character becomes pregnant in the film.

“She actually gained like 15 or 20 pounds during the film, which was perfect,” said Nguyen. “Best special effect ever.”