Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta

Photo courtesy Touchstone Pictures

There's a reason Hollywood has made so few films about firefighters. To get realistic fire effects on film, you generally need actual fire, and fire is highly unpredictable and difficult to control.

Anyone attempting to harness it for cinematic purposes has his work cut out for him, as director Jay Russell discovered in bringing "Ladder 49" to the screen. The drama, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a Baltimore firefighter trapped in a collapsed grain elevator, was a frightening prospect for Russell and his team

Russell, Phoenix, co-star John Travolta and special effects coordinator Larry Fioritto filled us in on this amazing and unprecedented production.