The Daily Telegraph Reports from the Set
by Freya Grant
SYDNEY streets were transformed into an inner-city Chicago streetscape today for the filming of The Matrix II.
The sequel, expected to be titled The Matrix Reloaded, follows the 1999 Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix.
Stars from the original film including Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss are back in Sydney filming alongside local actors and extras.
The sequel has an expected release date of May 2003.
Overnight, a clearway was created along Castlereagh and Campbell Sts.
Traffic signs were changed, American-style trash cans, fire hydrants and newspaper dispensers were added to the footpaths and American number-plates were placed on dark cars which lined the street.
Neither Reeves, Moss nor Fishburne were on location today, but an untrained eye could have thought they were as stand-ins took their places.
Moss' stand-in was wearing her character Trinity's trademark black vinyl dress, while Fishburne's stand-in was suitably coy in dark glasses and a suave trenchcoat.
The crew spent most of the night setting up and filming a scene where Moss and Fishburne drive around a corner in their midnight blue sedan.
No detail was overlooked with the scene complete with smoke filtered out of the drains to keep the film's location authentic.
Motorists may be confused when they drive past two banners this morning - one with a cow saying "mmmm steak" and the other proclaiming "watch TV", which have been erected on the corner of the two streets and are expected to remain there as filming continues.
Trees lining the street were wrapped in brown hessian and covered by green cylinders.
Technicians and gophers on the set said they were excited to be back filming in Australia.
"It's a beautiful place," said a crew member.
Onlookers were equally thrilled as they watched the action from behind barricades.
"I can't believe that this is going to be in the film," said one. "That's pretty cool."
Local stars Hugo Weaving, Christine Anu, Ada Nicodemou and Lachy Hulme all have roles in the film.
Filming will also take place at Fox Studios as well as in California and Chicago in the US.
By filming the original Matrix in Australia, the producers were able to keep the budget down to about $60 million -- estimated to be about a third of what it would have cost if it had been made in the US.
A third film - The Matrix Revolutions - will also be filmed in Sydney. The back-to-back productions are expected to inject $300 million into Sydney's economy.
The cast experienced a tragic setback as they began filming when co-star Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in August.