The idea of the film came first to Patrick Read Johnson in the distant 1990, but the project arrives on the USA screens only in the 1996 as the pre-production was long and difficult. The script was written by Charles Edward Pogue("The Fly") still in the 1990 and it had to be Johnson's debut as a director, but as it usually happens for this kind of films (ancient setting and high budget), Universal didn't want to give this project to a beginner, so it got stuck for years. Then Richard Donnel ("Lethal Weapon") came, and he tried to do the film thinking of Harrison Ford as Bowen, but it was too expensive for him too. The film wasn't about to be carried out, but here we have the solution: Raffaella De Laurentis (daughter to the more famous producer Dino De Laurentis) with her Italian inventiveness succeeded in doing the miracle. Instead of making the film in the USA, they could shoot it in Slovakia where renting a theatre costs 600 dollars instead of 6000! Then they could save up utilising local workers to build the sets and keep the major part of the budget for the complex visual effects during the post-production period. So they began to shoot the movie, with director Rob Cohen, who had just been noticed for his great "Dragon".
The movie was shot from July to December 1994 in the marvellous setting of that nation in MiddleEurope or in the Koliba Studios in Bratislava (the caves, the bedrooms and the castle's courtyards). Working on the set got really complex and very accurate since lots of perches with two tennis balls, Draco's eyes, were the only still reference to the actors, as they were the right point to look at. Then the ground had to be beaten under Draco's imaginary footsteps, water had to be moved while he was passing and gas tubes, dig in the ground, turned on at the right moment to simulate those huge flames. Then on the actors' head a little airplane was flying where a special camera was shooting from Draco's point of view through smoke and fire. The only comfort was the constant accompaniment of the Sean Connery's pre-recorded voice who recited Draco's quotes with all his majesty.
During the following two years ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) worked intensely to Draco's birth and his creation. With the supervision of Phil Tippet (father of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park) they fisrt decide the morphology of the dragon and his dimension thinking of the frames and his interaction with the other characters. After a great working for 5 months finally the complete sculpture was put under a 3d scansion and on SGI stations. 96 animators and technical directors worked on the 181 frames (about 30 minutes) where a real dragon can be seen under the sunlight on the screen.
The worst problem about post-production was synchronising Connery's voice to the movement of Draco's lips, as it was a new thing: after renouncing to the idea of Motion Picture (it was imperfect) they used a program of synchronization (lip-sinc) created for this film, and called CARI after word "caricature". This software allowed them to copy from many films, Connery's expressions and attitudes, and "stick" them on Draco's face, making Draco express all emotions (joy, anger, sadness, and so on), and make him live to our eyes. It was also a problem adding CGI to the film (compositing): they had not to forget important things as the real dimension of the actors, dynamic of the scene (adding those little details they can't add during the film), and all the movements which have to be realistic.
After all this hard work we all can see the final marvellous movie, and we all cheer for this wonderful result (all at the little cost of 60.000.000 dollars! :).