The making of ''Wind'' -- Some of the ill fortune that plagued Mata Yamamoto's film


Wind‘s arrival in theaters marks the end of a tortured journey. A sailing saga that aspired only to showcase the glories of man against sea, the movie marooned cast and crew on location for more than six months, and the shoot’s many problems tested the mettle of everyone involved. Here’s a sampling of some of the ill fortune that plagued Wind:

*SKIP THE SKIPPER In 1989, with Japan readying to compete in the America’s Cup sailing race, Japanese producer Mata Yamamoto sees the hook for a film and acquires the rights to the story of Dennis Conner — the U.S. skipper who, in 1983, lost the America’s Cup to Australia. Conner’s defeat marked the first loss by an American team in the race’s 132-year history. As a movie concept, his tale fails to pan out.

*BUT WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Yamamoto perseveres with a new vision: a sailor’s dishonor and redemption. ”I told him it would be expensive and difficult to get an American deal,” says director Carroll Ballard. ”It wasn’t a mainline subject and we didn’t have a story.”

*HOW’S THE WATER? No bankable actor will accept the film’s lead role — partly because there is no script. Enter Matthew Modine. Early indications are not promising, though: He’s dubbed ”Splash” for his tendency to fall overboard.

*DEAD CALM Production is to begin in January 1991 on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with the film’s toughest sequence: the climactic sailboat race. Financing problems delay the shoot until Feb. 25, a costly interruption as the strong trade wind known as ”The Doctor” has by now gone.

*THE CRASH During the second week of filming, stunt coordinator Christopher Anderson and stunt double Trevor Hellier are both severely injured when two boats freakishly collide during a lunch break.

*WHAT’S MY LINE? At least six writers visit Wind on various locations. ”I’ve written every line of dialogue myself,” says costar Jennifer Grey.

*MONEY MATTERS Wind arrives in Hawaii — along with a near hurricane — and marks its six-month anniversary of production. The boat race is finally shot eight miles off Waikiki. As Ballard frantically films, calls are being made to get additional funds for the approximately $30 million picture.

*THE SHIP SAILS ON Wind misses its most important deadline, in March 1992: Yamamoto had hoped to recoup some of his investment in Japan by getting the film into theaters before the America’s Cup finals. He doesn’t.

*ARE WE HAVING FUN YET? ”I never want to make a film this big again,” swears Ballard. ”It’s no fun.”

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