Storms, Sharks and Panic: 'All Is Lost' and the Making of a Triumph

See the stunning choreography behind this pulse-racing adventure

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In All Is Lost, J.C. Chandor's nail-biting drama set on a 39-foot schooner in the Indian Ocean, an unnamed character (Robert Redford) fights for his life – rain, storms and sharks be damned. But, as this behind-the-scenes clip proves, despite the relatively calm setting – no exploding cars, no invading aliens – a calculated plan was always at close hand.

"We had a very specific road map," says Chandor, who storyboarded every scene extensively. More than a writer and director, Chandor – who previously helmed 2011's thrilling Margin Call – also served as a field marshal. "We had this wonderful boardroom and it became, in a very sort of militaristic way, an execution project."

Adds Redford, "[Chandor's] very smart – I think he's a visionary." It's high praise from an Academy Award-winning director who also created the Sundance Film Festival, now entering its 40th year. "But he's also relentless in pursuing his vision. There's something determined about him that's pretty rock-solid."

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All Is Lost reaped plenty of critical praise; in his three-and-a-half-star review, Peter Travers called the film a "pulse-racing adventure at sea that takes the measure of a man." However, only sound editors Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns received Oscar nominations for their work; Redford won Best Actor at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards but was snubbed, Travers says egregiously, for his stunning and completely silent lead performance. "These guys [Redford and Captain Phillips' Tom Hanks] made the mistake of being on water," Travers griped. "It was wrong. Anybody that wasn't on water managed to get nominated." 

All Is Lost is available on VOD January 21, and will be released February 11 on DVD/Blu-ray.