|BLU-RAY NEWS TAGGED "LUKE HICKMAN"||Receive Blu-ray News via RSS|
HDD Interviews the Filmmakers Behind 'Mama,' Andres and Barbara Muschietti
Tags: Luke Hickman (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
Guillermo Del Toro has made a name for himself. Now, he's not only making huge movies of his own, but helping other filmmakers rise to higher levels. His latest production 'Mama' is boosting the careers of two other up-and-coming Spanish filmmakers break into the international market. Their little $15 million film grossed $138.6 million at the worldwide box office and will be available on Blu-ray on May 7, 2013.
'Mama' introduces us to the Spanish filmmaking siblings Andres and Barbara Muschietti. The idea for 'Mama' came from a chilling three-minute short film that Andres and Barbara made in 2008. Del Toro hopped aboard to produce their feature length version of the short, which was released in January 2013. After watching the short, which is available as a special feature on the Blu-ray, it's no wonder a feature was to follow.
Andres and Barbara Muschietti are two humble, personable, and very likeable filmmakers, hopefully their personalities and charisma translate in the following interview transcript.
Andres Muschietti: Hello, Luke!
Barbara Muschietti: Hi, Luke!
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hi, guys! How are you?
Andres Muschietti: Doing well.
Barbara Muschietti: Very good.
HDD: Being international filmmakers, I have to ask – where are you right now?
Barbara Muschietti: We are in our house in Barcelona ... and it's raining outside.
Andres Muschietti: It's not a great day. Being the beginning of spring, it sucks.
HDD: It's the same here. I live just outside Salt Lake City. It rained this morning and we even had a snow storm last week.
Andres Muschietti: During spring?!
HDD: Oh, yeah. That's why I feel your pain!
Andres Muschietti: Enjoy! (laughs)
Barbara Muschietti: (laughs)
HDD: (laughs) Well, thank you for taking time out of your evening to talk with me.
Barbara Muschietti: It's our pleasure.
HDD: We only have 10 minutes so let's dive into this. First off, I love that the original short film is included on the Blu-ray because it's fantastic. I hadn't seen it prior to watching the feature film, so it was a real treat. How did the short come about?
Andres Muschietti: It actually wasn't through the usual way. Instead of writing a story, it came up in a morning vision. I was just thinking in bed and this image came in my head. The whole sequence came in. I sort of sat on it because these sorts of things you don't give much focus to, but I thought, 'Maybe I could make this into a beautiful and horrifying short film.' I tried to make it make sense and to rationalize it – create the story behind it – but this was not the case. I thought, 'Why not make it without [a backstory]?' And it works! There's a shock behind the images of the film that I think makes it enigmatic. People want to know what the story is, so there's an important hook there. … There's the build up of the tension, the atmosphere. And that's how we came to it. I told my sister, 'I have this idea' – because we have have a production company here. We have been doing commercials for more than 10 years. We are shooting all the time and during one day of a shoot, when the shooting was done, I realized that - we were in this house on the outskirts of Barcelona – I realized that it was the house from the dream.
Andres Muschietti: Yeah! It was the exact house – it had the hallways, the spiraling staircase, the connection to the kitchen. It was exactly what my vision was. I said to my sister, "We have to do it." So she talked to the owner and the owner said, "Okay, but you have to shoot this fast. We're tearing the house down in two weeks." And we made it!
HDD: That's awesome. So let me make sure I have this right – when you made the short film, you didn't have a backstory to it at all?
Andres Muschietti: No, we didn't. It was enigmatic. That was the value of the movie. Watching it with an audience and hearing, "What the fuck was that? Why are they being chased by their mom? Why is their mom a ghost or a monster?" - some people think it's a zombie – but she's definitely not.
HDD: Was it difficult expanding this three-minute short into a feature length film?
Andres Muschietti: Well, it's complicated and complex, but I wouldn't say "difficult." There's a lot of work that we put into it, especially when they are a few parties involved. In this case, Guillermo [Del Toro] was involved and there was a studio, so the most complex thing of it all was making consensus with all of the parts. But finding the story wasn't difficult at all. As I was trying to come up with story of the feature film, I came across this video about a cheetah eating a monkey, a baboon. The monkey gives birth to a baby as she's being killed and so the cheetah starts to take care of the baby [cheetah]. That's a crazy story of nature, but it's true. It happened and it's a reflection of how things work in nature. I thought that was an amazing idea to carry on into a story, so I thought, 'That's what 'Mama' is about' – it's about two little girls who think that the monster is their mom and that's why she's there when they are abandoned. The idea of imprinting, which is the reverse of that, like when a baby looks up and the first thing that she sees she becomes attached to it.
HDD: That's crazy!
Andres Muschietti: I'm sorry. I'm extending too much!
HDD: No – it's great. I love hearing about it. So, how did Guillermo Del Toro become involved? Was he the one that provoked the feature?
Barbara Muschietti: The first person that really inspired us and encouraged us to go on for a feature is another director and friend Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. He basically told us, "You guys have to write a feature about this. Drop whatever you're doing and go for it." So, then we basically started shopping the project around. We had phone calls with quite a few people – with Sam Raimi's production house, with the Weinsteins, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura – but when we heard that Guillermo had seen the short, we knew that it was a match. The next day, he called us and said, "I'm going to help you make this movie. It doesn't matter if we make in English or Spanish or Chinese – I'm going to help you make this movie." And that's what he did!
HDD: Where did the decision come from for making the film in English?
Andres Muschietti: It was a hot week.
Barbara Muschietti: (laughs)
Andres Muschietti: Of course, I was concerned with jumping to a Formula 1 just like that, from a short film to a high budget – which wasn't really a high budget, but for us, we don't get to shoot with that kind of money and in English with Hollywood actors. It was tough, a challenge that we had to face. For a moment, we were thinking, 'Let's do it here in Spain. Let's make it small.' but Guillermo told us, "You're going to do this movie in Spanish in Spain and it's going to be a success and the Americans are going to do it as a remake."
Barbara Muschietti: With a much bigger budget!
Andres Muschietti: At that time, it didn't seem like something bad for me, but from a financial point-of-view, of course, the producers of a remake would make hundred of thousands [of dollars] more than us.
HDD: (laughs) Alright, I've only got time for one more question. Do you two see yourselves continuing as a sibling duo for the rest of your careers?
Andres Muschietti: Yeah yeah yeah. We are a duo. Barbie is the producer, I am the director and we intend to keep it that way for at least 20 movies.
Barbara Muschietti: (laughs)
Andres Muschietti: We'll see what happens after that.
HDD Interviews 'Frankenweenie' Producer Allison Abbate
Tags: Frankenweenie, Luke Hickman (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
In my seven years as an entertainment writer, I have interviewed professionals in all sorts of filmmaking roles – from animators and special effects coordinators, to actors, writers and directors – but I have never interviewed a producer. Through my interview with 'Frankenweenie' producer Allison Abbate, I learned that this role is (or, should be) filled by someone with a true passion for a project.
Allison Abbate is the BAFTA award-winning producer of 'The Iron Giant.' 'Frankenweenie' wasn't her first bout with stop-motion cinema nor her first collaboration with Tim Burton, as she produced both 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' and 'Corpse Bride' and worked as an artistic coordinator on 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.'
This interview was conducted just days before Christmas. Allison and I were both preparing for distant travels. At the end of the interview, she apologizes for the background noise of her packing her bags. Truthfully, I didn't hear any clatter and the inflection of her voice and strings of thoughts were so smooth and fluid that I never would have known. I would have assumed that she was sitting down with all attention directed to the call had she not confessed otherwise. That's the type of naturally charismatic, energetic, and enthusiastic person she is.
It is my hope that Abbate's personal love for 'Frankenweenie' is just as evident in the text that follows as it was during our chat. If you would like a sense of the voice behind the words that follow, I recommend checking out the special features found on the 'Frankenweenie' Blu-ray prior to reading this interview. Abbate serves as the host of the special features "Miniatures in Motion: Bringing 'Frankenweenie' to Life" and "'Frankenweenie' Touring Exhibit." You will see visual testaments of how much she personally cares for this project.
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hi, Allison!
Allison Abbate: Hi, Luke! How are you?
HDD: Not bad at all. I understand that you're in the middle of travels.
Allison Abbate: I'm about to travel, so it's perfect timing.
HDD: Are you going to be mixing business with your holiday travels?
Allison Abbate: No, this is purely a family visit – so I'm not sure which category that falls into, but it's going to be busy and fun.
HDD: That's great. I know that we're limited on time, so let's dive into 'Frankenweenie.'
Allison Abbate: Did you like it?
HDD: I liked it when I saw it in theaters and liked it even more when I re-watched it at home. It's such a great little film. I think it's one of Tim Burton's best family flicks. Both my 5-year-old daughter and I love it.
Allison Abbate: Oh, I'm so glad! I love to hear that kids saw it and loved it. Tim was a kid when he had the idea, so it's great to hear their reactions.
HDD: Now, were you involved with 'Frankenweenie' from the beginning?
Allison Abbate: Certainly not with the [original] short film from many years ago (which is included in the Blu-ray's special features), but when Don (presumably executive producer Don Hahn) came and talked about the movie with Tim, it was right after 'Corpse Bride.' We were thinking about what to do next, so it was perfect timing for this. And that was back in 2005.
HDD: Was it difficult to get Disney to re-do the original short?
Allison Abbate: You know, I really feel like it wasn't difficult. [Disney] loves Tim and you can tell by the significance of the short how classic it is and how it really showcased Tim's amazing talents right from the start. They were excited about it.
HDD: Nothing against Disney, but I assumed that any studio would be against making a contemporary black & white kids film.
Allison Abbate: Black & white was always on the table. It was never a question of not doing it in black & white. Tim's vision is very clear and the studio was always very supportive of it. I think Tim, from the very beginning, said, "The only way that I will do this is if I can do it the way that I have always wanted to," and he laid out all the parameters and they were totally on-board with it. I think they knew that the way that Tim would do black & white would feel fresh and amazing, so they were very supportive.
HDD: 'Frankenweenie' is your first 3D film, right?
Allison Abbate: Yes. Absolutely.
HDD: I know that shooting standard films in 3D opens a can of worms. Were there any changes that you had to make to the stop-motion process in order to adapt to 3D?
Allison Abbate: We actually didn't shoot in 3D.
HDD: You had me fooled! It's such a great conversion that I never would have known otherwise.
Allison Abbate: Tim likes to do it as a post process because it gives you more control. It doesn't damper the filmmaking part of telling the story. We were always cognoscente of it, aware of it, planning for it – but it didn't hold us up or trip us up in any way. It was more like, "What would be a fun way to pull people into this scene, or pull people into this moment?" We really approached it that way and it became more of an organic way to plan some of these sequences.
HDD: Because of your background, I must tell you that two of my daughter's very favorite films are 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' and 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.' You have a great track record with her.
Allison Abbate: (laughs) Ah, that's so great! They're both fun movies.
HDD: Were there any challenges that were presented with 'Frankenweenie' that you didn't have in either of those two past stop-motion experiences?
Allison Abbate: The thing about 'Frankenweenie' is having the main character be a certain tiny dog. It sort of has huge scale issues because we had to basically design the dog puppet so that we could get it to do everything that we needed it to do, then scale everything up to that. We had some physical challenges based on that. The black & white was more challenging than we had anticipated just because we don't think in black & white. We had to change the way we composed shots, the way we painted things and how we designed things just so it would work. The value became paramount. It was a little learning curve for everyone to get into the black & white headspace. Otherwise, the process hasn't really changed since the old days of Ray Harryhausen. It just seems like we have embraced technology to take us into the future and make the process a little easier, but fundamentally it's still such a classic mood that we kept some of that classic stuff.
HDD: I enjoyed watching the part of the "Miniatures in Motion" Blu-ray special feature that explains how all of the sets and characters were initially designed in color, but had to be adjusted to get the desired black & white look.
Allison Abbate: We thought, "You know that Ginger Rogers' hair wasn't really white. That's just how it came out in the black & white." So, we were painting things in regular color, then we'd see them in black & white and find that things were pulling tricks on us. Red would go one way in a certain shot, then a completely different way in another shot. It was becoming hard to wrangle, so we starting painting things in shades of gray. Once we really embraced that, it became a lot – not easier, but – clearer. We were working within the value palette. It was nice for the animators because they were living in the world that they were creating. The whole set became a sort of black & white set. It was kind of neat to look at it.
HDD: All in all, how long did the shooting process last?
Allison Abbate: I think it was basically three years from the beginning to end – about a year of pre-production, a year and a half of shooting and about half a year of post. The shoot can overlap a lot of things, but it was about three years in total to make the film.
HDD: On the Blu-ray, there's the new stop-motion short film 'Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers.' Was this shot congruently with the main feature?
Allison Abbate: Absolutely. We worked it in towards the end of shooting so that as we were peeling crew off the feature film, we started putting them onto the short. The animation supervisor (Mark Waring) ended up directing it. Tim's co-producer (Derek Frey) wrote it. It became a family affair and we ended up wanting to do many of them. We figured, "Victor and Sparky make home movies. Let's see another one." It was a great idea and I'm really glad that we made the sci-fi one, the little space one. It was so cute – and having Mr. Whiskers make a cameo appearance was pretty genius.
HDD: Watching the special features on the Blu-ray, you are basically the host. How is it going from being producer to being in front of the camera?
Allison Abbate: Oh! (laughs) That was not good! The thing is, I love talking about this process and I love talking about the people, the amazing artists who create everything. For me, it was not as hard as when I look at myself on the camera. I see myself and say, "Yikes! What is my hair doing?!" (laughs) That's all I can think about when I play it back. But it's really my pleasure when I get to walk people back through the process. I pretty much give tours constantly as if we are still making the movie. I'm trying to bring people in and explain to them the process and show them the magic behind making one of these movies. It was such a privilege to be able to showcase that magic to the people who watch the Blu-ray.
HDD: Do you have the desire to ever direct a film?
Allison Abbate: You know, producing for me is a very creative and satisfying job. If there was a story that I really loved and I felt like I could tell it, I would not rule anything out. I feel like producing, and especially animation, is so satisfying because you are really there at the making of every decision for every frame. I get great satisfaction at stepping back and seeing the group that I have helped pull together and the amazing artists that we have put into positions to shine and creating an environment for them to shine in. I really think that producing one of these movie is pretty addictive stuff. It would be hard to give that up.
HDD: So, what are you doing next?
Allison Abbate: Right now I'm executive producing a Lego movie for Warner Bros., but Tim and I are talking about doing other stop-motion movies. He has a number of ideas. I'm also working with Guillermo Del Toro and Henson on a 'Pinocchio' movie. There are lots of things on the horizon, I just have to figure out which one is the best one to move forward on first.
HDD: Well I really look forward to seeing what you decide to do next – especially if it's another stop-motion film.
Allison Abbate: They're fun. They're fantastic. It's a medium that's really so conducive to telling great stories and telling them artfully. For me, it's my first love, so you will see more. Definitely. … This style is magical. It's Santa's workshop. There's magic to the process. I'm glad that you appreciate it.
HDD: Well, thanks for taking time right before the holiday to talk with me. I know how hectic this time can be.
Allison Abbate: You're hearing me put things in suitcases and throwing things in boxes, so thank you for your patience.
HDD: I never would have known that's what you were doing if you hadn't told me!
HDD Interviews 'Frankenweenie' Animation Supervisor Mark Waring
Tags: Frankenweenie, Luke Hickman (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
As much I try staying neutral while conducting interviews, those that I recently conducted with the filmmakers of 'Frankenweenie' made it hard to not get too excited and get off topic. How so? Well, while the role of Animation Supervisor on a family film is a relatively unsung hero, it's the legacy and the credentials of that artist that can make it hard to stay on track.
Mark Waring was not only the Animation Supervisor on 'Frankenweenie' – which I love – but he also carried the same title on what just might be my favorite stop motion film of all time, Wes Anderson's 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.' When the person that you're speaking with has worked with one of your favorite directors, it's hard to keep the questions to the film at hand. Luckily, I also adore 'Frankenweenie,' so I was able to keep it together. Barely.
I especially enjoy being able to interview the folks who do the work that isn't always recognized, the worker who doesn't get at all the praise he deserves. I couldn't name a single Animation Supervisor before interviewing Mark Waring, but now that I know the name of the person who brought Sparky the Dog to glorious black & white undead life, I'll never forget it. I hope that reading his words will convey the amount of professionalism, drive, and energy that one of Hollywood's unsung heroes puts into his unique line of work. Being on the other end of the phone from him, that's how he came across to me – which is why it is no surprise that he was chosen to direct the new 'Frankenweenie' short film that is included on the Blu-ray special features, 'Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers.' The feature film begins with Victor showing off a homemade monster movie to his family, something that I did as a kid and that I believe more and more kids do every day. 'Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers' is another one of Victor's homemade films that isn't shown during the feature film. There is an interesting filmmaking aspect to take into consideration with Waring's short film, so I hope you will enjoy the discussion about it and 'Frankenweenie' that he and I had over the phone this week.
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hi, Mark! How are you?
Mark Waring: I'm well, thanks. Are you well?
HDD: I'm great, thanks. I'm glad that we were able to make this interview happen because I'm a fan of 'Frankenweenie.' The mixture of black & white with 3D stop-motion animation was quite unique. Did that combination provide any unique challenges for this production?
Mark Waring: I think it did, but it depends on which department, really. From an animation point of view, it's just an image. From a technical point of view, we had playback monitors so that we could watch what we do as we animate and go along. Although it's quite strange because the design of it is obviously black & white, some of the set designs and things like that were left in color – not all of it, but a lot of it. Things like the grass, say for instance, is made of that stuff that – I don't know if you can get it in The States like we have here in the Green Grocers (I imagine it is a chain of stores in the UK) and stores like that – rather than painting all that to be gray and black and white, we left it green. We might buy material to fix some curtains, like a red drape, and they were all left like that. There was a bit of a weird mix because when we were watching it, playing it back, it was like a sepia tone. It's actually kinda nice to look at (laughs). It gave us an interesting viewpoint as to how [black & white] is. I think the black & white definitely had more to do with the design side of it, the Art Department, because they had to adapt things. If something's in color, it won't register as color. The reds completely crushed the black, so they had to adapt their palettes because they know that it was going to be turned into a black & white film. It was the same thing with some of our puppets. They had to be painted in a certain sort of way that mimicked skintones. I think that some of the cameramen were actually using old books about how to light like the classic '20s and '30s black & white films. They were referencing how to do it. That side of it had to really be taken onboard when we were shooting it just to make it work because we knew that it would be going into the black & white format.
HDD: Had you shot anything in 3D prior to 'Frankenweenie?'
Mark Waring: Personally, no.
HDD: I know that the film was shot in 2D for a 3D post-conversion. Did that change the way you had to shoot?
Mark Waring: The 3D was always planned as a post-production thing. That was a decision that was made in the early stages. Obviously, we could have shot it in 3D since we basically shot just stills, but it was the time factor involved with shooting in 3D that was against us. With the release date and how that was going to work, we had to factor in the actual physicality of moving the camera to other positions. All of those sorts of technical things would have had to have been taken into consideration. It takes time to do all of that on the floor, which is great if you have the time – but we didn't have it. I think with Tim Burton having done 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' as a post 3D conversion before this – and I think he was quite happy with how that went – the decision to make it a 3D thing in post effects was a decision that was made because of those sort of practical things. When we were shooting it, there were setups that we had to do to take the 3D into consideration – that placing of the characters within the depths, how much focus are we going to get on this – so a lot of things were actually shot separately. If something was really really in the foreground deliberately, then we had separate elements shot so that during the conversion process, they could actually piece the shots together and give that depth that was required. The post guys were always around to see if they could get what they wanted from the set – "Oh, that needs to be shot separate."
HDD: Were there any challenges that 'Frankenweenie' posed that weren't present in any of your past films, like 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' for example
Mark Waring: I think that all of the films that I – obviously, all are stop-frame films – all of them have their own style that throw out their own challenges. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but they all present different problems that you have to overcome. I'm trying to think if there was anything specific. The scale of the world that was created for 'Frankenweenie' was quite interesting. Because of the nature of stop-filming, a whole world can be created, but it tends to be fairly small. It's very unusual to break up and break out of that into a huge world that's round. That was one of things that was hard, it was trying to figure out how to do that and the best way to do that – especially with all of the characters, their design and how to make them work. All of these elements had to be worked out. Technically, I suppose the main one was basing a whole film around a dog, which was one of the things that was discussed from the start. "Sparky is the main character and we have to get that right. Now, who is that dog?" You can understand how a boy would act or how an adult would behave, but a dog has to have a character, a personality. So, we had to create that. We studied dogs. We went to dog shows. We had dogs coming into the studio. We filmed them. We tried to work out how they move, how Sparky moves. Is he young? Is he old? Does he jump around? All of those things we had to work out. Most animators would have to learn that; it's part of their job. There has to be a group of 30 people who knows how he moves. That was quite a challenge.
HDD: Stop motion is quite a unique craft. Is there any aspect of 'Frankenweenie' that you're particularly proud of that the layman might not notice?
Mark Waring: That's actually an interesting question. Something that I'm proud of? I think the telling of the story. It's such a nice thing. You feel the story through this boy and his dog. It's a simple path that it follows, but it's got a shape to it and characters that it's based around. It's a nice form of storytelling. There's something strong and – what's the word that I'm trying to think of? It's a piece of storytelling and it works very very well. I think they're all very individual and strong characters, so to be able to get the characters to come through is great. You can follow them through the whole film, so that's nice. It's all about characterization and how you can bring things to life. It's basically a pile of metal and silicon and foam, but it can make you laugh, it can make you cry. For people like animators to be able to bring characters to life by doing that, I think that's an interesting process to go through. I think that 'Frankenweenie' shows that in quite a few characters.
HDD: Being someone who grew up playing with VHS cameras and making home movies, I especially enjoyed the opening of 'Frankenweenie' amd was even more excited to see another one of Victor's films on the Blu-ray – 'Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers.'
Mark Waring: (laughs) It's the same with me. I actually had a camera when I was younger and I went out and made little films. So, when the idea for 'Captain Sparky' came up, I thought, 'This is great. This is the perfect chance to get to do another similar sort of thing.' Getting the chance to direct that myself was a really nice end to the film – which took two years from start to finish. It was a nice thing to round everything off. It rung quite a lot of bells. It was something exciting having childhood memories tied up with that.
HDD: Was it challenging shooting 'Captain Sparky?' As the director, you basically had to revert to a kid making a movie.
Mark Waring: That's it! That was the great thing. When you actually think about it, you think, 'OK. I've got to make a childlike film here.' But the problem is that you don't want to make it childlike – as in really bad. (laughs) You can make something that makes everyone go, "That was a terrible piece of filmmaking," and that's not what you're trying to do. I kept trying to come up with tricks that would suggest that Victor was making the film. He wasn't that great, but he tried his best. He was reasonably proficient, but was still making mistakes. So, we ended up with the hand coming in [frame] holding a stick, leading wires in and other deliberate mistakes that he would have made as a child. The problem was trying to do that without making ourselves, as professional filmmakers, look like we're making a bad piece of work. (laughs)
HDD: I've got to tell you that you've won both me and my five-year-old daughter over with 'Frankenweenie' and 'Captain Sparky.' We're fans.
Mark Waring: That's great! That's the thing – I think it works for all ages. My niece is just over four and she went over Christmas to watch it with my sister and she was laughing, crying – not in a bad way – and she was cheering them on in the end. "Come on, Sparky! Save the day!"
HDD: That's awesome. Do you have any any other collaborations with Tim Burton lined up in the future?
Mark Waring: I'd love to work with him again. If there were more films lined up – you know, the process takes such a long time. In an ideal world, the goal is to run from one film to another, but he's a busy man that's got a lot of things going on. If there was to be another Tim Burton feature, then even if it was starting now, by the time the process got through – the development, the writing and all that sort of stuff up to filming it – since that's such a long process, that would be a ways out. Keep your fingers crossed, I'd love to be involved in more of his productions. I love what he does. I'm a big fan, so to work on his film is a thrill in itself. And it's good that the film itself works well. It's a win-win situation.
HDD Interviews 'Get the Gringo' (and 'Elysium') Producer and Co-writer Stacy Perskie
Tags: Get the Gringo, Fun Stuff, Luke Hickman (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
If you've been reading the 'Get the Gringo' interviews that I've conducted, then this one introduces the third ingredient used in making this a throwback to Gibson's earlier films – Stacy Perskie. Like director Adrian Grunberg, Perskie has previously worked alongside Gibson too. Perskie worked as the second unit director on 'Edge of Darkness' and as the second assistant director on 'Apocalptyo.' Perskie not only co-wrote 'Get the Gringo' with Gibson and Grunberg, but he produced it as well.
Perskie has worked on several very big films, but I believe he's really about to explode. Why? Because he's currently co-producing Neill Blomkamp's first film after his 'District 9' feature debut, the uber-secretive 'Elysium.' The first footage and a general synopsis was finally revealed at Comic-Con two weeks ago, but I conducted this interview just days before that so Perskie still had to be tight-lipped about it – but that didn't stop me from asking. I managed to get one little tidbit out of him about 'Elysium' that got me very excited for it. Read on.
Stacy Perskie: Hi, Luke!
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hey, Stacy. How are you?
Stacy Perskie: Good, good. How are you?
HDD: Not bad at all. Are you tired from your full day of interviews yet?
Stacy Perskie: This is actually my first one of the day – the first of few.
HDD: I spoke with both Kevin [Hernandez] and Adrian [Grunberg] today -
Stacy Perskie: Cool! How are they?
HDD: They sounded great. I was especially impressed with Kevin because he doesn't sound like a 15-year-old at all.
Stacy Perskie: Right?! He's very mature for his age. He's a very great guy.
HDD: I see that you've done a few film with Mel Gibson now.
Stacy Perskie: That's right. We've done three movies now. I've also done some music videos that he directed. ...
HDD: How is it working with Mel?
Stacy Perskie: He's extremely creative, you know. He's a lot of fun and a very great guy to work with. He's very humble, sharing a lot of his knowledge – and that's very rewarding because you get to learn a lot. At the same time, he allows you to propose things and he hears you out. It's a very open collaboration.
HDD: Was it always the intention of you guys to get him to return to the 'Payback' type of role, or did that just happen naturally?
Stacy Perskie: You know, when we started writing the script, it was [Mel's] original idea. We started doing research and he proposed that we all write it together. He never said from the beginning that it was to be an acting vehicle for him. It wasn't until the script was almost ready that he said that he might prefer the role.
HDD: I'm glad that he took it. It felt like it was meant for him, especially with all of the quick and witty jokes that might fly over your head if you're not paying attention.
Stacy Perskie: I agree. I agree. It's really great. When writing the script, we never said that it was going to be him … but it always seemed – I think from his point of view too – that it was always a very natural character for himself. I agree with you; it's great to see him in that type of role.
HDD: It seems like you're keeping busy in the film industry. You've done second-unit directing -
Stacy Perskie: Uh-huh.
HDD: - producing, writing. Is there one of those roles that you prefer over the others?
Stacy Perskie: I really like both writing and producing. I had a lot of fun on this project, so I look forward to being able to do it more. I also hope, at some point, to create the opportunity to direct something myself. But both writing and producing are definitely great.
HDD: I know that you probably can't say anything, but the inner movie geek inside me won't let me not ask you.
Stacy Perskie: (laughs)
HDD: Being a producer on 'Elysium' -
Stacy Perskie: Yeah.
HDD: - can you say something – anything – at all about the movie just to appease me?
Stacy Perskie: I'm pretty locked down at the moment. As you already know, it's a very confidential project. There hasn't been much out there yet, so I unfortunately can't say much. I will say that, personally, it's going to be an amazing movie.
HDD: Has the shoot already wrapped?
Stacy Perskie: Yes. Shooting has wrapped completely. The film had some additional photography that we shot last month.
HDD: Were you on set for most of the shoot?
Stacy Perskie: I was, yes. I concentrated on the Mexican portion of it. I was in the entirety of … the six weeks in Mexico, in Mexico City and the outskirt of the city. I was also in Vancouver, where the rest of the film was shot.
HDD: Being a big fan of 'District 9,' I'm dying to see what Blomkamp does with it.
Stacy Perskie: I think it's going to be a really amazing film. I think it's going to be on a whole other level than 'District 9.' Even though I think 'District 9' was very good, I think 'Elysium' is going to take it up a notch.
HDD: Your words are making me excited – and I'm already really excited.
Stacy Perskie: (laughs) That's cool!
HDD: Do you have anything lined up after 'Elysium?'
Stacy Perskie: Both Adrian [Grunberg] and I are reading scripts, we have a few scripts in development to produce. We're working on a movie called 'The Boy Who Smells Like Fish.' It'll probably be out early 2013. … We're looking for a few other projects for Adrian to direct and also thinking of things that we can write ourselves to see where it takes us.
HDD: Well, thanks for giving me a call today and I look forward to seeing what you guys do next.
Stacy Perskie:Thank you. That's very nice.
HDD Interviews 'Get the Gringo' Director Adrian Grunberg
Tags: Get the Gringo, Fun Stuff, Luke Hickman (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
'Get the Gringo' is a Blu-ray I've been anticipating since first hearing about it. Despite the media drama that Mel Gibson has found himself in over the years, I've continued to love his on-screen and behind-the-camera personas just as much as ever. So to hear that he had co-written and starred in a film that threw him back into the crass and gritty action roles that got him started, I was pumped.
If you read M. Enois Duarte's review of 'Get the Gringo,' you will read my exact sentiments of the film. Through the character (known as "Gringo"), his hilarious narration and the story, we get to see Mel Gibson return to form.
If it wasn't for Gibson's face revealing his age, 'Get the Gringo' could easily appear as one of his movies from "the good old days" of his career. I believe that this is the result of a couple combined things. First, Gibson co-wrote the screenplay. And second, the other minds behind the filming have now worked with Gibson for quite some time. Director Adrian Grunberg co-wrote 'Get the Gringo' with Gibson and producer Stacy Perskie. Grunberg also worked as first assistant director with Gibson on 'Edge of Darkness' and 'Apocalypto.'
I recently spoke with director Adrian Grunberg about 'Get the Gringo.' I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hello, Adrian! How are things going?
Adrian Grunberg: Not bad at all.
HDD: Are you doing a load of phoners today?
Adrian Grunberg: Uh... yes – but thank God it's only today.
HDD: Well, let's get this over with then. Let's get you onto the next call. I watched 'Get the Gringo' last night and have to say, I loved the opening sequence -
Adrian Grunberg: Was that all you liked?!
HDD: No, no, no! (laughs) I just wanted to say that I was gripped from the get-go because of the action, the visuals -
Adrian Grunberg: (laughs) I'm kidding. I'm glad you did. I think it's a cool, cool scene as well.
HDD: Having worked with Mel Gibson a few times now -
Adrian Grunberg: - as first [assistant director] -
HDD: - how is having the tables turned, being the guy who gets to fully direct Mel in a movie?
Adrian Grunberg: It feels great! (laughs) I can't tell you enough – I love the guy. I've know him for a number of years now and there's an affinity, a friendship, that we've developed over the years. It was good, it was great, it was an amazing experience. This is a film that we brought forth from the idea, all the way through the script and the production, so it was fantastic.
HDD: How did 'Get the Gringo' come to be?
Adrian Grunberg: Mel had the idea … this idea of putting a "gringo" in a Mexican prison. [Mel] had been reading stuff about Mexican prisons, so he called me up and offered me the movie. We started to get together along with Stacy Perskie, who's the other co-writer and producer – all three of us started to get together and throw ideas around. We would come back the next week with research, we would grow the script, get together with Mel, then tear it apart and put it back together. This went on for almost two years.
HDD: How close was the reality of the "Pueblito" (the Mexican prison) that you wrote to the actual "Pueblito" itself?
Adrian Grunberg: It's exactly the way that the real Pueblito was. El Pueblito was closed down in 2002 (SPOILER ALERT) in the same way that it is closed down in the movie (END SPOLER). The authorities came in at two in the morning because it was the only way to close this place down. Now, that was in 2002 and the real Pueblito was even worse than the one in the movie. I had trouble about what not to put in the movie because the movie had to be under two hours. The movie is not about the prison, it just happens in the prison. Nowadays you won't find a prison exactly like that one, but that kind of prison does still exist in much of Mexico.
HDD: And you shot the whole movie down in Mexico, right?
Adrian Grunberg: Yes, all of it was shot there. It was 12-week shoot.
HDD: The way it appears on screen, it looks like there was blistering heat. Was it that hot?
Adrian Grunberg: Yes. We shot during the hot months, during the summer months, in Vera Cruz. We shot 'Apocalypto' there as well, so it was a comfortable place for Mel as well because it's a fantastic place. It's a cool town and the people are great. It was amazing, very enjoyable.
HDD: When shooting a film like this - one filled with violence, torture, rape, language – how do you, as a director, tackle the shoot with such a young actor like Kevin Hernandez?
Adrian Grunberg: Umm … shooting with kids is always difficult, but Kevin – as you might have guessed from talking with him (see my interview with Kevin Hernandez from last week) – he's very mature and he's a very cool kid. He's from El Salvador, but he lives in L.A., so he had never been to Mexico, this was his first big role, so he was really excited. We got along great and he came down there with his parents. He understood right away that it was role that he was playing. He had trouble at first because he doesn't swear, he doesn't speak that way – he would say, "I don't talk this way." And we would say, "I know, but you're acting." And he got that, he got it right away. He was fantastic and he did an amazing job.
HDD: When casting a young actor like this, what sort of things do you take into consideration?
Adrian Grunberg: We knew that the movie's success was largely due to whoever that role was being played by. "The Kid" would make or break this movie. It's such a powerful role and it's so easy to fuck it up, especially because you're dealing with a kid, so I did extensive [cast] testing in Mexico and couldn't find anyone. And it just so happened that he was recommended to me by a casting director who had just seen him for another casting job and I was really luck to get Kevin. I was struggling in finding somebody that could pull this off.
HDD: I had seen Kevin in 'The Sitter,' but didn't know that he could dramatically act until 'Get the Gringo.'
Adrian Grunberg: By the way, he shot 'Get the Gringo' before 'The Sitter.'
HDD: That's what he was telling me. I thought it was great to see this kid acting on the same level as Mel while Mel was going back to a classic sort of Mel Gibson role – kind of like a 'Payback' role. Are you guys working on anything else right now?
Adrian Grunberg: Not together. Mel is working on a couple of things that he wants to direct. I'm reading scripts and writing with my partner, Stacy, deciding what the next movie is. If something comes up in the future, I'd be happy to work with Mel. I love the guy. But right now we don't have anything planned together.
HDD: I've got to tell you before I go – while watching the movie with my wife last night, we both agree that the best line in the movie is in the intro with Dean Norris, whom I love from 'Breaking Bad,' drops the quick clown line. If I wasn't paying attention, it would have flown right over my head. And this movie is filled with witty dialog like that.
Adrian Grunberg: (laughs) I think there's a few of those, lines that I particularly still laugh at when I hear them because they happen so fast. They are little things within the scene that get missed by people on the first watch. I agree.
HDD: Mel's voice-over was filled with them.
Adrian Grunberg: I agree.
HDD: Adrian, thanks for talking with me today. I was afraid that we weren't going to be able to fit this call in, but it worked and I'm glad that it did.
Adrian Grunberg: Excellent.
HDD Interviews 'Get the Gringo' Star Kevin Hernandez
Tags: Get the Gringo, Mel Gibson, Luke Hickman, Fun Stuff (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
'Get the Gringo' is a Blu-ray I've been anticipating since first hearing about it. Despite the media drama that Mel Gibson has found himself in over the years, I've continued to love his on-screen and behind-the-camera personas just as much as ever. So to hear that he had co-written and starred in a film that threw him back into the sort of crass and gritty action role that got him started, I was pumped.
If you read M. Enois Duarte's review of 'Get the Gringo,' you will read my exact sentiments of the film; he expresses my very own opinions. Through the character (known as "Gringo"), his hilarious narration and the story, we get to see Mel Gibson return to form - and it's awesome.
In the just released 'Get the Gringo,' the young boy (simply known as "Kid") who Gringo forms a friendship with is the secondary lead, the co-star. Kid is played by young actor Kevin Hernandez whom you would recognize if you Jonah Hill's irresponsible flick 'The Sitter.' Hernandez was primarily used for straight comedy in 'The Sitter,' which didn't offer much insight into his acting capabilities. I didn't realize that Hernandez could pull off a serious role in a mostly serious movie until now - not that he was bad in 'The Sitter,' but it didn't provide opportunities for him to show what he's capable of. If you've seen both films, you will know what I'm referring to.
For the Blu-ray release of 'Get the Gringo,' we were given the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with Hernandez. The last thing I expected from this phoner was for the second half of the conversation with this teenager to turn into what reads like an interview with a seasoned professional. As you read on, I hope that the impression I got from Hernandez over the phone will translate through to the text – that this is no average "kid actor." Kevin Hernandez has his head on straight, his priorities in place and it's going to be great to see what he does on-screen as he gets older. Enjoy!
HDD – Luke Hickman: How are you doing today, Kevin?
Kevin Hernandez: I'm doing pretty good. How are you?
HDD: Not bad at all, thanks. I watched 'Get the Gringo' last night and – I've got to say – I'm pretty surprised at your performance because all I know you from is 'The Sitter.' How was is going from 'The Sitter' to 'Get the Gringo?'
Kevin Hernandez: I actually filmed 'Get the Gringo' first, then 'The Sitter.'
Kevin Hernandez: Yeah.
HDD: I never would have known. How long ago did you shoot the two movies?
Kevin Hernandez: (misunderstanding my question) 'Get the Gringo' was for three months and 'The Sitter' was for two or three months too.
HDD: How have you liked mainstream acting?
Kevin Hernandez: It's really fun. I get to go out to places that I've never been to before. It's really great meeting different people, seeing different things – all these things that a typical kid doesn't get to.
HDD: Like working with some pretty big actors?
Kevin Hernandez: Yeah!
HDD: How was it getting to work along side Mel Gibson?
Kevin Hernandez: Oh, God! He's so great. As an actor, he taught me so many things (inaudible). He's really great. He's forward. He likes what he does. And he's really fun too.
HDD: How old were you when you filmed 'Get the Gringo?'
Kevin Hernandez: I had just turned 13.
HDD: And how old are you now? (I ask because Kevin now has a very deep voice.)
Kevin Hernandez: 15.
HDD: As a then-13-year-old, how was it acting in a movie with so much violence, language, –
Kevin Hernandez: I was prepared for it. I knew that it was for the movie. I was ready for it. I adapted to it. It's better to know this stuff than not to know it.
HDD: How did your parents feel about it? Between 'Get the Gringo' and 'The Sitter,' you've had to say quite a few choice words. I don't know of too many 13-year-olds who get their parents' approval to things like that.
Kevin Hernandez: They were okay with it. They know that it was for the movie and they had confidence in me, that I wasn't going to change because of it – and I didn't!
HDD: Where did you shoot 'Get the Gringo?'
Kevin Hernandez: Vera Cruz, Mexico.
HDD: Had you ever been to Mexico before?
Kevin Hernandez: No. This was my first time.
HDD: Being a kid, how was it shooting in a foreign land?
Kevin Hernandez: It was great because I speak Spanish and was able to talk to the people in Spanish. It was great experience being in Vera Cruz – plus, we got to go to the beaches, enjoy the food and the water.
HDD: What's up next for you? Are you working on anything now?
Kevin Hernandez: I have some projects that I'm still waiting on - but as of right now, no. I'm just focusing on school first.
HDD: Were you in school when you shot your two big movies?
Kevin Hernandez: For 'Get the Gringo,' I told the school to send me packages with the homework. We would go back and forth and it worked out. Then, when I moved to 'The Sitter,' I was home-schooled. I thought that was much easier. I could do it all on a computer. It was there and I didn't have to wait on the school to send me the packets full of homework. It was quite easy. I preferred the home-school route, but now I go to a public high school.
HDD: Having acted in two different genres, is there one that you prefer over the other?
Kevin Hernandez: I like both. With drama, you don't know where it's going to take you. There are so many different perspectives of it. It's more – you have to have more faith in yourself, to be more intact with yourself. With comedy, you can just relax, have fun with it. You can change your lines, have fun and improvise. You learn different types of things from both.
HDD: For a 15-year-old kid, that answer was one that I'd expect from someone who had been in Hollywood for a while. You must have had a good acting coach.
Kevin Hernandez: I do.
HDD: Are you still taking lessons?
Kevin Hernandez: All the time. I'd like to keep acting, so in school I'm taking more classes too.
HDD: Well, keep it up Kevin and thanks for your time. I look forward to seeing what you get to do in the future.
Kevin Hernandez: Thank you and have a great day!
HDD Interviews 'Safe House' Writer David Guggenheim
Tags: Luke Hickman, Tony Scott, Fun Stuff (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
I love a good action movie. I'm not talking those cheesy, dumb, overly serious things that used to pass as action movies in the '80s – I'm talking about good, solid action movies. Sadly, they've been on the decline. It's not all that often that we're handed one with strong quality.
February gave us one of the best action flicks in a long time - 'Safe House.' The story was strong (despite an expected twist). The action was great. The movie had both style and substance. And it was a success. Although it was just six percent away from a "fresh" Rotten Tomatoes rating, it killed it at the box office. 'Safe House' opened in the number two spot upward of $40 million (which is great for February), only to take the number one spot for its second and third weekends. 'Safe House' remained in the Top 10 for seven consecutive weeks and grossed over $202 million worldwide.
'Safe House' marks the first feature film for exploding writer David Guggenheim. Universal greenlit and fast-tracked this project (which you'll read more about in the interview that follows), which quickly made Hollywood take notice. For a new guy, Guggenheim has some pretty huge prospects on the horizon. If he keeps moving onward and upward – which I truly believe he will – then things will only get more exciting.
Guggenheim recently took a few minutes out of this packed schedule to talk 'Safe House,' to explain what it feels like to finally land on the Hollywood map, and to give us a sneak preview of what to expect in the near future. I hope that as you read this interview, you'll feel the excitement, energy, gratitude and humility that exude from his words. Enjoy.
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hi, David.
David Guggenheim: Hello.
HDD: How are you holding up after doing rapid fire interviews today?
David Guggenheim: It's crazy, you know - but it's fun. I like doing them on the street, so I'm walking now, getting some air. It's all good.
HDD: I think I'm your last interview for the day, so let's knock this out. Will you tell me a little bit about your writing education and history, how you got into it?
David Guggenheim: Well, I'm a New Yorker. I grew up on Long Island. I went to school for writing at NYU. I've been writing since I was a kid. I was around seven years old when I wrote my first couple scripts. My first real stuff went out when I was in college. And it didn't sell. It came as humanly close as possible to selling, but it was the wrong place – the right place at the wrong time. Ever since then, it's been me sending out scripts – like six or seven scripts that went out to studios – that came really close to selling, but none of them ever did. And finally, 'Safe House' is the first one that sold.
HDD: I've got to tell you – I dug it.
David Guggenheim: Well, thanks!
HDD: We haven't had an action movie of that caliber in a long time.
David Guggenheim: And that's what I was going for – a sort of cool, visceral, original action movie. They just don't make them anymore. It's old school.
HDD: And it looks great on Blu-ray too.
David Guggenheim: Right?! It looks incredible on Blu-ray.
HDD: Where did you get the idea and your inspiration for 'Safe House?'
David Guggenheim: I'm a huge spy film fan. That's my favorite genre, which is why 'Safe House' is sprinkled with James Bond references throughout the whole movie. I have always been looking towards writing something in that vein. Up until now, I hadn't done it. I'd never written an actual spy movie. I thought about the idea of 'Safe House,' which I'd heard referenced before – it's common knowledge that these things actually exist – and I thought, 'That's such a provocative title. What if this place that's supposed to be your safe haven becomes the most dangerous place? That's something. I've got something going here.' And then I started thinking, 'Who works there? Well, it's this kid who has never been out in the field before.' I can identify with those sorts of characters. … I like the guy who doesn't know how to fight. So then I have to put him in a situation: 'What if we then pair him with the complete opposite? We put him with the most sociopathic expert spy. We have them going on the run, sort of learning from each other as they go on this journey – making it more of a "road movie" than anything else. Throw in action, gun fights, explosions, really cool hand-to-hand combat sequences.
HDD: What was it like having 'Safe House' greenlit? You say this was your first script purchased, so how satisfying did it feel to know that it was going to be made?
David Guggenheim: The movie literally came out [in theaters] two years after it sold. It was insane. We sold it, and literally a year later we were in production, and a year later – I got spoiled. That's the downside. I got so spoiled from it because … that's not exactly how that works. Usually. I was going, "I just sold it. How are they getting it made already? They're really making it! They're not just talking about getting these actors, they want to make this movie." That was really cool. Again, it wasn't based on a pre-existing title or anything like that – I thought it was going to be a very small-budget movie, by they ballooned it.
HDD: Did they invite you to be present for the shoot?
David Guggenheim: Yeah. They did. I was shooting a pilot that I wrote at the time, so I couldn't be there the whole time. The minute we wrapped [the pilot], I jumped on a plane. … It worked great. They involved me through the film, after the filming and during post [production]. It was really great. They were really cool.
HDD: How does the final product compare to the way you wrote it? Does it look the way that you visualized it?
David Guggenheim: It really does. I pictured it just short of a '70s movie. That's how I try to write. I go for those high-concept '90s movies, then think … 'How would this have looked in the '70s era?' I think [the director] took it around in a cooler way, but it's definitely fast and visceral. When people are shot, they get shot. When someone gets punched, they have to react to that punch. … It makes it more exciting that way.
HDD: Where are those old scripts that you were pitching around Hollywood? Are you still working on them?
David Guggenheim: I don't usually like going back. Usually there's a reason why something didn't sell, sometimes it's a timing issue. Sometimes I think that I have just gotten better. I've thought about dusting off some, but why not just move forward and do some new stuff. But, oddly enough, there was one that I wrote seven or eight years ago called 'Medallion' that got picked up independently and made because of 'Safe House.' It's now called 'Stolen.' So that's an example of an old script of mine that someone dug up and said, "Hey, let's make this into a movie."
HDD: When was that filmed?
David Guggenheim: They were literally shooting at the same time that we were shooting 'Safe House' and the pilot. All three were shooting at the same time, but I'm not sure what their plans are for it. I think that they're still doing work for – I know that Simon West was directing and I know that he's also doing 'The Expendables 2,' so he's pretty busy right now. … I really have no idea [what they're doing with it], but I imagine that [it's on the back burner for now].
HDD: Did they not keep you as involved with 'Stolen' as you were with 'Safe House?'
David Guggenheim: They asked me to be, but I was honestly so busy that I couldn't. Unfortunately, I couldn't be as involved as I would want to, but they were cool, asking me if I wanted to go down there [for the shoot] and check it out. Everyone involved in that movie was awesome too. I've got no complaints.
HDD: I notice that you have at least four scripts that are in some form of production right now.
David Guggenheim: They're all in various stages of development. One is really close to shooting. One we are hoping will be really close to shooting in the next couple of months. One is about to land a director – but I can't say who that director is until he signs his name. And the other one were are just developing. So they are all in various stages of development.
HDD: Can you talk at all about those scripts? Give us a little hint of what to expect?
David Guggenheim: Yeah! 'Puzzle Palace' is the first one, the one that's most concrete. That's the one that McG is directing. Most recently he did 'This Means War.' He did the 'Charlie's Angels' movies, 'Terminator Salvation.' It's being produced by [the person] who did all the 'Twilight' movies. It's sort of 'Die Hard'-esque. It takes place in 'Puzzle Palace' in New York City - which is police headquarters. A young man breaks into the building to exonerate his father and gets trapped inside with all the crooked cops who set up his dad. It's more like 'No Way Out' than anything else. It's very cool, very tense.
HDD: Sounds awesome.
David Guggenheim: Then there's 'Narco Sub,' which Tony Scott is attached to direct. Narcosubs are these real things, the new way that drug dealers are smuggling cocaine into America. They're actually building their own submarines.
HDD: Wow. I didn't even know that.
David Guggenheim: Yeah, it's cool. It's like no one even knows about it. Occasionally it will pop up in the news, but it's unbelievably "real world." [The movie] is about a down-and-out ex-Navy guy who is sort of forced into commanding one of these subs.
HDD: And you've got Tony Scott directing?
David Guggenheim: Yeah, Tony Scott.
HDD: That's awesome!
David Guggenheim: It's cool! It's the ultimate – it's like, we got Tony Scott back in the sub.
HDD: That's so cool!
David Guggenheim: It's very, very awesome.
HDD: And I see that you're doing something with Ron Howard?
David Guggenheim: That's right – '364.' That's the one that we're developing, literally, right now. It's kind of a (inaudible) superhero movie. The idea is that, what if you were superhero – but for only 24 hours, just one day, each year. What would you do with your gifts? This one is definitely still in the developmental stage, but hopefully we're going to end up cracking it soon.
HDD: I can't wait. I've got to tell you, I really like 'Safe House,' I dig the Blu-ray and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next.
David Guggenheim: That's awesome, man. That you so much. I appreciate it.
HDD: You're welcome. And thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.
David Guggenheim: Absolutely.
HDD Interviews Morgan Spurlock and His 'Comic-Con' Star Holly Conrad
Tags: Luke Hickman, Fun Stuff (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
Note: Since we talk specifics about 'Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope' in the following interview, it might be wise to read my review of the film in the Bonus View section of the site first.
When the world's biggest geektastic comic book convention, Comic-Con, is held in San Diego, California each year, those of us who do not attend typically only hear about the stuff that goes on in Hall H – the celebrity-filled movie-centric frenzy. What we don't get to see is what goes on at the rest of "The Con" – which is exactly what the exceptional documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is showing us in 'Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope.'
Spurlock is a major comic book geek. His passion for the convention shines throughout the film even though he doesn't make a single appearance in front of the camera. While he's usually front and center for his docs, this time around he's letting everyone else convey their love for The Con, since these are his equals in geekdom. There is a great amount of interview footage with celebrity geeks in attendance, but the majority of the film follows six specific fans attending Comic-Con with unique purposes. Joining Spurlock for this interview is one of the six main "characters," Holly Conrad, an aspiring make-up and costume designer who went to The Con to show off her unique homemade and animatronic costumes of the main characters from 'Mass Effect 2.' Enjoy!
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hello, Morgan! Let me start off by telling you that I really enjoyed the film. I want to know how you chose the six main attendees that you followed and if there are any plans to follow them around Comic-Con again in the future.
Morgan Spurlock: We basically put out a big casting call - once we knew the movie was happening - using mailing lists from The Con and other cons. Ain't It Cool News – Harry Knowles, who was an executive producer on the film – sent out a blast about the casting call via his site. Then we just got bombarded with about two thousand people sending letters and videos, wanting to be in the film. And from there we whittled it down to stories of people who were going to achieve certain goals, or to make sure that certain things didn't happen – like with Chuck Rozanski wanting to make sure that his business was going to stay afloat in light of the faltering paper comic book business. We just wanted to make sure that we found the most interesting folks. I think the cast that we got was really amazing. We got fortunate with the people we got – with Holly, Skip and Eric, Anthony Calderon … With this year we will probably try and shoot with a couple people. It will kind of depend. What I'm hoping is that we can have a few big screenings of the film at Comic-Con. If that happens, we will definitely shoot that and the Q&As after. We will probably do some checking in [with the characters] over time. That's the thing – Holly's career has just taken off in the two years since we shot with her. To see what happens with her post-this film, I think, is going to be really really exciting.
HDD: Being someone who attends Comic-Con each year, how did you manage to fly under the radar and keep people from knowing what you were doing?
Morgan Spurlock: I think that people knew we were making a movie. Anyone who lives in that community or submitted videos knew there was a film being shot, but we didn't make a lot of noise about it. I don't make a lot of noise about most films I make just so that it doesn't cause a lot of distraction. I try to keep things under wrap as much as we can with the exception of, you know, telling who we need to tell to get it executed. It wasn't like we had one or two people – we had a crew of 150 people making this movie. It was the biggest crew I've ever had in my life. We had 15 full-time cameramen, another ten field producers with them that, at any point, could pick up a second camera. There were anywhere between 15 and 27 cameras rolling at once. We shot 650 hours over the six days – a day on each side of The Con. There was a lot going on, so it wasn't like we were invisible. Lucky, 150 in a field of 150,000 is still very small.
HDD: How did it feel to not be in your movie?
Morgan Spurlock: It felt fantastic! It was great! I highly recommend it! (laughs) I'll do it as often as I can. With this film, we went to a lot of investors trying to make this movie and there were a lot of people who said, "We will give you the money to make this film – but only if you're going to be in it." I was like, "Well, great – but we'll find the money somewhere else." We basically walked until we found an investment team that wanted to get behind the movie that we wanted to make, that wasn't going to force us into making something that we didn't believe in. With this film – I'm a fan. And I am very obsessive over certain things in this culture. But there are people who are much more emblematic of this kind of passion than I am. We wanted to make sure that those were the people who were front and center in the movie. It was the right choice.
HDD: How do you feel about the comic book aspect of The Con dying off a little bit?
Morgan Spurlock: The only aspect of The Con that's dying off is people buying physical paper comics – just like every book store in America is dying off. Barnes and Nobles are going away, as are Borders bookstores. People just don't buy print comics. I read more comics now than I ever have in my life. As an adult, I download and read more comics on my iPad than I ever did as a kid because it's even quicker to get them. I don't have to go to a comic shop, I can go right online and buy five comics without ever leaving my apartment. The accessibility and interest level in comics is greater than ever before and it's reaching an ever grander audience. What is dying is people buying paper anything. For me, I think that side of The Con is an argument that is a bit insular in its viewpoint.
HDD: In the film, you touch on how Hollywood, television and video games have been dominating The Con over the last few years. How do you feel about the balance shift in that direction.
Morgan Spurlock: You have to think. The DC booth is still one of the biggest boots that's there – as is the Marvel booth. The Dark Horse booth is a big booth. ... The smaller artists on comic alley are always going to have smaller booths and a smaller presence because they don't have the dollars to jump up and be as loud as someone else. The people always say – and this is something that I don't completely agree with – "Movies are completely dominating Comic-Con now." Hollywood dominates the press of Comic-Con now; they don't dominate Comic-Con itself. If you go to Comic-Con Hall H, which is where they do these large movie teasers – which holds 6,000 people – there's still 144,000 people at The Con that aren't in Hall H. The movie portion is still a smaller portion of the giant con, it just dominates the media because Angelina Jolie just showed up for a press conference and what are you going to write about? You're going to write about Angelina Jolie showing up for a press conference. That's news – much more than the small comic book purveyor who's launching his new title. For me, I think that comics are still part of this – and they're still recognized as part of it – but it becomes a financial battle at that point. You're never going to win a battle against Rockstar Games. They have the biggest video game title in the world, so what you do is think, 'How can I still offer unique and creative opportunities to these people?' That's the thing, they (meaning the heads of the convention) easily could have gotten rid of these people years ago. If Comic-Con didn't care about comics and just cared about making money, then they would have gotten rid of these smaller places and let in the big giant studios and just let them dominate The Con. I think that [Comic-Con] recognizes that the heart is still those folks and that's why they are still dedicated to making sure they have a presence.
HDD: Holly, can you tell me how working with Morgan Spurlock has changed your career? I noticed on your website that you have some big projects coming. Can you talk about some of those?
Holly Conrad: After the movie was filmed, we were still pretty much trying to make it. It was off-and-on, so I ended up moving to L.A. and getting out of San Bernardino – which was nice. [Me and my team] ended up going to Bioware and making a bunch of suits for [them], which was really cool. We did the live-action trailer for them ... and a few official Femshep costumes, so I got to walk around as Femshep, which was very cool. Pretty much, it's just been freelance things. I just did a project with (inaudible) and got to do production design and make monsters. I'm, more or less, just looking for more cool design positions like that in the future. I'm still doing what I love to do while still trying to make it.
HDD: During the close of 'A Fan's Hope,' it says that you're working on the 'Mass Effect' film. Can you talk about that?
Holly Conrad: Obviously, it takes a while for these things, so once it actually does get into motion, I'll be hoping that I get to learn more about [my job] because it's going to awesome once it actually does go forward.
HDD: Do you have a comment about the controversy of the 'Mass Effect 3' ending that's been all over the internet lately?
Holly: That's actually a big deal. It's been all over my feed recently. I've been meaning to make a video about it. I think, honestly, that people are jumping the gun on the ending. How I feel about it is that we haven't really seen how Bioware is going to conclude everything. Maybe they'll add a DLC, maybe they'll have another game. We just don't know. Being upset about an ending, I understand. I cared about the characters as well, but I think there's a lot more to it that people are jumping the gun for. We should just wait it out and have fun playing the game. (laughs)
HDD: Thanks! Morgan, did you use any product placement to fund 'Comic-Con?'
Morgan Spulock: Yeah. Didn't you see? The whole thing was brought to you by DC and Marvel! (laughs) Oh, and George Lucas and Lucasfilm, apparently! (laughs) I remember when we first started making this film - we were also in the process of finishing 'The Greatest Movie' - you would just walk into the building and think, 'This is a clearance nightmare. We're not going to worry about any of that. There's no way.' … Once we got permission from The Con to shoot there, all of that got piggy-backed in – which was great. Could you imagine having to try clearing a movie like this? I would take you ten years!
HDD: Was it easy getting all of the celebrity interviews for the film?
Morgan Spurlock: The minute we knew we were going to The Con, we got the book with all of the scheduled panels, trying to see who would be there. We just started chasing them immediately, calling their agents, calling their managers, calling their publicists. The response was overwhelming. Most people said yes. There were some people who said no – like maybe if it was somebody who was there to promote a studio film who, when they're there, have a very limited window of what they want to accomplish that usually has to do with a release that's coming out in the next two to three weeks or two to three months, so they're doing nothing but press that's going to drive to that window – but most of the folks that we got on there were people who had a real relationship with Comic-Con in the past and could speak legitimately and openly, as well as heart-warmingly, about their experiences there.
HDD: How was it going from weightier content to something fun and playful like 'The Greatest Movie' and this?
Morgan Spurlock: This is something that I'm passionate about. This film spoke to every little bit of fanboy inside of me, every bit of my geek obsessions, so to get to make a film like this – not only make a film like this but get to make it with Stan Lee, with Joss Whedon, with Harry Knowles – it was a dream come true. To have things fall into place the way they did, to have the cast that we did, to get the access that we did – it was a really special project in so many ways. I felt very fortunate to get to make this movie.
HDD: How did you get this great list of producers?
Morgan Spurlock: The whole idea of the film came from a conversation that I had with Stan Lee. It was Comic-Con 2009, I had just been hired to make 'The Simpsons' 20th anniversary special for Fox, so we were down there casting 'Simpsons' superfans. We were trying to find people who could come out and wax rhapsodic about their passion and love for all things Homer. That night – Friday night of that Con – I went to a party and met Stan Lee. I went to Stan just to tell him how much he changed my life as a kid, how I read his comic books in West Virginia growing up basically gave me the courage to tell my own stories, how they motivated me to want to be a creative person, and he was like, (in a Stan Lee voice) "Oh, Morgan, thanks! That's really nice of you. You know, we should make a movie together. We should make a documentary! We should make a documentary about Comic-Con!" And I was like, "That's a great idea Mr. Lee! That's amazing!" (laughs) I literally took it to heart. (laughs) I met his producing partner Gil Champion and literally five minutes later I said, "Stan and I are talking about producing a movie together." He goes, "Listen. If you want to do that, we're in." So I saw Peter Micelli, an agent for CAA also at the party, and he said, "How was it meeting Stan?" I go, "It was incredible. We want to make a movie about Comic-Con." He's like, "Great! You should meet my other client who's coming into town tomorrow." Cut to tomorrow and I'm having breakfast with Joss Whedon. I said, "Stan's in. Here's the movie we want to make …" and we fleshed out the idea a little more – we want to follow people into Comic-Con and tell a little more of their experiences. Joss is like, "I love it. I'm in." And I literally went from my breakfast with Joss to find my friend Mark Wytullarde who is on the board of directors for Comic-Con. I called him up and said, "Where are you? I want to come find you." So I found him, told him that we want to make this film, that Stan Lee's on-board, Joss Whedon's on-board, here's what we want to make the movie about, and he goes, "Listen. I've worked for Comic-Con now for the past two decades and literally every year someone has come forward wanting to make a movie and we've said no – but this time it just might work." Lo and behold, a year later we are there making the movie. It was remarkable.
HDD: That's an awesome story. Thank you!
Morgan Spurlock: You're welcome. And thank you!
HDD: For all of our readers abroad, is there currently a plan to release the film outside the United States?
Morgan Spurlock: Absolutely! We're going to be announcing an international plan for this very soon. Right now it's just a domestic release, but the film is going to go international very very soon.
HDD: What's up next for you?
Morgan Spurlock: My next film, which we're finishing now, will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. It is a movie that we did with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman that looks at the magical world of manscaping, called 'Mansome.'
HDD: (laughs) I can't wait!
Morgan Spurlock: (laughs) It's special. It will be a very special film.
HDD: Who came up with that idea?
Morgan Spurlock: I think that idea was cooked up between Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Ben Silverman, then they roped me and I said, "That is a great idea. I'm in."
'Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope' is now playing in select cities, but will be expanding over the next several weeks.
High-Def Digest's Complete Coverage of Sundance 2012
Tags: Sundance Film Festival , Sundance 2012, Aaron Peck, Luke Hickman, The Bonus View, Fun Stuff (all tags)
It's been almost a month now since Luke and Aaron visited one of the world's biggest and most prestigious independent film festivals. Over the past few weeks we've been releasing a long line of Sundance coverage on the main High-Def Digest page and over on The Bonus View.
Sundance routinely premieres movies whose hype continues all the way to award season. Movies like 'Precious,' 'Winter's Bone,' '(500) Days of Summer,' and 'The Guard' all recently premiered at the festival. After attending the festival Luke and Aaron have a pretty good idea of what movies will end up being talked about as the year goes on. If you missed any of our Sundance coverage here's your chance to catch up on it. Find out what movies will be hotly talked about for months to come. What movies might be around come the 2013 Academy Awards. And most importantly, what movies you'll be excited to see once they finally get released.
Aaron's Sundance 2012 Journals
Each day of the festival Aaron wrote a detailed journal entry chronicling the movies he'd watched, the celebrities he'd seen milling about town, and the overall experience of a film lover attending one of the best film festivals in the world.
Sundance 2012 Journal– Day 1: The festival begins; Aaron sees Malin Akerman standing in line for the premiere for 'Your Sister's Sister'; A very informative Q&A follows one of the best movies at the festival.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 2: A film festival is the only place strangers will ask you about the movies you've seen that day and how much you enjoyed them; Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, and Rashida Jones were spotted at the 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' Q&A; Snowpocalypse arrives in Park City and engulfs the town in towering mountains of white snow.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 3: Aaron is already starting to feel the all-too-familiar film festival burn-out as he starts skipping his planned movies for the day; 'Red Lights' turns out to be one of the most disappointing films at the festival; Later that night Aaron is treated to a great Q&A by Ice-T talking about his new rap documentary called 'Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap.'
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 4: Aaron performs the fatal mistake of leaving the bus when he knows for sure it's going to take him to where he needs to go, but it isn't going fast enough; Josh Radnor is just like his Ted persona on 'How I Met Your Mother'; Aaron has one of his most uncomfortable moments of the festival when he watches a very sexually-explicit movie sitting just a few seats away from the main actress.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 5: A fight is picked about the silly way balloting is done at Sundance; Luke gets his haircut by the Axe people, but is booted from his seat so David Duchovny can come down and have a photo op; Aaron stays way too late to take in a screening of 'John Dies at the End' and regrets it the next morning.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 6: Ty Burrell, Vera Farmiga, and David Duchovny show up for the Q&A of 'Goats'; Mountains of free sandwhiches; and a Parker Posey nightcap.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 7: The third, or fourth, sighting of Brie Larson happens; Quentin Dupieux – director of 'Rubber' – uses Aaron's pen to sign autographs for fans; Aaron finally sees 'The Beasts of the Southern Wild' which is the festival darling, which will indeed be talked about when the Oscars roll around again; Finally, the night is spent watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about his hitRECord.org project.
Sundance 2012 Journal – Day 8: Aaron laments about his busted camera and how bad his luck is with cameras at Sundance; Another festival darling, 'Smashed' is seen and liked; The festival comes to a close.
Sundance 2012 Interviews
Along with seeing movie after movie and taking in all that Sundance has to offer, Luke found time to interview some of the big names at Sundance 2012. Check out the chats below.
Luke's Sundance Reviews
'The Words' – 4.5 Stars
'Goats' – 2 Stars
'For a Good Time, Call…' – 3 Stars
'For Ellen' – 4 Stars
'Smashed' – 5 Stars
'Lay the Favorite' – 1 Star
'The Raid' – 4.5 Stars
'The End of Love' – 4.5 Stars
'Celeste and Jesse Forever' – 4 Stars
'Robot & Frank' – 3.5 Stars
Aaron's Sundance Reviews
'Safety Not Guaranteed' – 4.5 Stars
'Liberal Arts' – 3.5 Stars
'John Dies at the End' – 3 Stars
'Young and Wild' – 3 Stars
'Price Check' – 2 Stars
'Shadow Dancer' – 4 Stars
'The Surrogate' – 4.5 Stars
'Red Lights' – 2 Stars
'Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap' – 4 Stars
'The Beasts of the Southern Wild' – 5 Stars
'Black Rock' – 1 Star
'The Ambassador' – 1.5 Stars
'The Queen of Versailles' – 3.5 Stars
'Your Sister's Sister' – 4 Stars
HDD Interviews 'The Double' Writer/Director Michael Brandt
Tags: Luke Hickman, Fun Stuff (all tags)
by Luke Hickman
Now on Blu-ray, from the writers of '3:10 to Yuma' and 'Wanted,' is writer and first-time director Michael Brandt's 'The Double' - an espionage thriller starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace. In it, Gere plays a retired CIA agent who's called back into action when an assassin who he spent his career tracking resurfaces. Grace plays an up-and-coming young agent who devoted his collegiate studies to investigating the assassin's case. Both have to work together in a twisted journey to uncover the assassin's identity and stop him from taking out other government officials.
Michael Brandt comes from an interesting past in the movie-making business and took time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he went from studying film, to editing, to writing and now directing. He also tells us how hard it is to break into directing and what it's like finally making that switch. Enjoy!
HDD – Luke Hickman: Hello!
Michael Brandt: Hey, Luke! How are you?
HDD: Not bad. How are you?
Michael Brandt: Well, I'm a little under the weather, so I hope that my voice will hold out.
HDD: Right now, I can understand you just fine.
Michael Brandt: Good.
HDD: Have you been doing a lot of these phoners today?
Michael Brandt: Actually, you're early on the list, so that's good. I don't know if by the end I'll be able to do the phone calls – but for now, I'm fine.
HDD: I watched 'The Double' Blu-ray last night and you put together this film independently, right?
Michael Brandt: Yeah. Hyde Park was the financing company. They finance their movies – most of them – through foreign sales. They actually have a fund out of Abu Dhabi that they use to finance their movies. It's independent, as in it wasn't a huge studio [film], but it wasn't like Derek Haas' mom or anybody like that [financed it] – just some sheik in Abudabi.
HDD: (laughs) That's awesome. You and Derek have been working together for some time now, right?
Michael Brandt: We've been working together since we were in college. We met at Baylor University in the early '90s, we were in grad school there together. I ended up in Los Angeles working as a film editor and Derek was working in advertising in Atlanta when he sent me what he thought was a completed script that was like 75 pages long. I said, "This isn't quite done yet, but it's really good." We'd tried to write some stuff together earlier in college and it was all terrible. So he sent me 75 pages of this great idea and I said, "What if this isn't the end of the movie, but the end of the second act?" I wrote the end of the movie and went back and rewrote some of the other stuff. The next thing you know, we had Brad Pitt attached to that thing and Gore Verbinski [set to direct], but at the last minute they left our movie to go do 'The Mexican' with Julia Roberts. So our movie didn't get made with those guys, but we were on the map in Hollywood. Derek moved out to Los Angeles and we got an agent. The rest is cinematic history, as they say.
HDD: What a cool beginning! Was your goal to always end up directing?
Michael Brandt: When I went to film school – Baylor is a really good technology school in terms of the technology of media. When I got there in the early '90s, we were already finishing up with high-definition television – and this was in like '92. The head of our department at the time had been Sony's head of new technologies in the '80s, so we would go to NAB (the National Association of Broadcasters conference) and run Sony's high-definition equipment for them. We knew more about it than they did. When I got there, thankfully, my interest was film and they were transitioning out of HD because they thought it was "old school" – like everyone was starting to do it – and were getting into this thing called non-linear computer editing. I had one of the first Avids ever made. We got it and I figured out how to take it apart and put it back together. I got really into the techie side of it. I went [to Baylor] wanting to be a writer/director and left there as an editor, which turned out to be the best move I could make because I moved to Los Angeles and within three weeks I was cutting a feature and within a year I was working for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez because they were all making the move to the Avid and I was one of the few guys who knew how to do it. It's funny looking back at how it all worked out. Then Derek and I sold our first script when I was working with Robert. That was a really long answer to a question that I can't remember.
HDD: "Was the goal to end up directing?"
Michael Brandt: Yep. And that's how I got there.
HDD: (laughs) That's awesome. So, how was it directing your first feature film, being the man in charge on-set?
Michael Brandt: Umm. There's great satisfaction in having the final decision go through you. I loved that. I loved knowing that fail or succeed, it was going to be on me - and also Derek. The nice thing about my personality in terms of creative collaboration is that I'm really open to input – and that's because I have a writing partner. You can't survive with a writing partner without being naturally collaborative. You have to have that mindset of "the best idea wins." That was something that I tried to bring to directing – "the best idea is going to win" – versus the guy who comes on set and everything has to be his way. What's funny is as I look back, there are times when I think that I should have stood up more for what I wanted specifically than I did. I should have been a bigger asshole than I probably was. Maybe there are some things in the movie that worked better in my own mind than when I watch it. Directing, all in all, is really fun because it's such a massively collaborating situation. It's also physically exhausting. It's a hard day, you never get to stop, and even when you're done you have to be thinking about tomorrow. Really, until you've [directed], you don't know just how mentally taxing the whole thing is.
HDD: How long was the process of making 'The Double?'
Michael Brandt: (laughs) Well, let's see. 12 years. We sold the idea as a pitch to MGM 12 years ago. Then we wrote the script, MGM got bought and sold and bought and sold and the script disappeared into their vault. We got the rights to it back and were able to separate the rights so that we owned them and Derek and I went out and got Hyde Park and [Richard Gere] attached. It was a really long process in some ways, but once we got Richard, the time from when we were shooting was seven months. That part was actually pretty fast.
HDD: Was it hard landing Richard?
Michael Brandt: You know, landing any actor for your first directing gig is a huge challenge. I've been trying to direct my first movie for six or seven years and it's hard to get somebody who's worth enough financially, to a financier, to commit to a first-time director. The script kinda spoke for itself, it's pretty strong – it's an interesting character for a guy like Richard to play. Our agent sent it to him and I heard he liked it, so I conned my way into a meeting at his house and after a couple of hours with my "dog and pony show," he was in. He was really open-minded and didn't care that I hadn't directed before. He embraced that and actually never took advantage of the power that guy like Richard Gere has on a relatively small movie. That was nice. He championed me and Derek all the way through it.
HDD: Once you had him, was it easy casting Topher Grace, Martin Sheen and Odette Yustman?
Michael Brandt: Yeah. Once you get a guy like Richard, you now have a certain amount of cache on the movie. You then get attention from agents and actors around town. And Topher - we needed that second guy though. There are a lot guys around that age group who could've played that role, but Topher, I thought, was an interesting choice because - he's obviously funny. He can pull off comedy easily. But the times that he has done drama, I've been impressed. I've always been impressed with what he did in the Weitz brothers movie ['In Good Company'] and also the Soderbergh movie he did – I can't remember the movie, I have too much cold medicine in my brain.
Michael Brandt: Right! I'm also inherently fascinated with watching funny people do serious work. It seems like there's a tension there to it, like if you watch Patton Oswalt – the funniest guy on the face of the Earth – in 'The Fan' and watch him play drama, there's something even more dramatic about it because you realize that there's a pain behind the comedy to begin with. I thought Topher would be – (SPOILER) nobody would think that there's an additional twist at the end of the movie if we cast Topher, so that meant a lot (END SPOILER). Talking with him about how I saw the character and how he saw the character, it felt like a natural fit.
HDD: With you being a techie, were you involved with the Blu-ray conversion process?
Michael Brandt: I'm a tech person, but certainly limited. Any of that kind of stuff is beyond me. I'm not quite as techie as I used to be. No, I wasn't involved [with the Blu-ray], but I was involved in all of the actual post [production]. In terms of editing, I actually did some editing myself. I really thrived on that whole process, but the actual transfer and all that, that was not me.
HDD: With technology moving at a rapid pace, is it hard to keep up with it? Do you want to keep up with it?
Michael Brandt: That's it. I would like to be more involved with it, but the truth is that my life right now is as a screenwriter and director and also the father of three little kids. It's seriously hard enough just trying to figure out if the Lakers won last night.
HDD: I've got tell you before I get kicked off the phone that I'm a huge fan of '3:10 to Yuma.'
Michael Brandt: Thank you! We're working with Jim Mangold on another project right now that – since you liked 'Yuma' – you might really like as well.
HDD: Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Michael Brandt: Um. All I can say is that it's a sports movie.
HDD: Well if you're saying that it's got a '3:10 to Yuma' element to it, I'm in.
Michael Brandt: Thank you very much!
MORE BLU-RAY NEWS TAGGED "LUKE HICKMAN":
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: Paul Dano and Jon Heder of 'For Ellen' Feb 03, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'For Ellen' Director So Yong Kim Feb 03, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'Frank & Robot' Director Jake Schreier Feb 02, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: Jocelin Donahue and Frankie Shaw of ''The End of Love' Feb 02, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'The End of Love' Star and Director Mark Webber Feb 02, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'Save the Date' Director Michael Mohan Feb 02, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'Robot and Frank' Writer Christopher Ford Feb 01, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: Lizzy Caplan from 'Save the Date' Feb 01, 2012
- Sundance 2012 Interviews: 'Community's Alison Brie on 'Save the Date' Feb 01, 2012
- HDD's Interview with 'Shakespeare in Love' director John Madden Jan 10, 2012
- Looking Back: Some of the Top Movies of 2011 Jan 05, 2012
- HDD Study Hall: Gary Oldman Dec 08, 2011
- Non-traditional Must-Watch Christmas Movie List Nov 30, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: Martin Scorsese Nov 30, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: George Clooney Nov 28, 2011
- High-Def Digest Holiday Gift Guide 2011: The Best Blu-rays of the Year Nov 23, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: Clint Eastwood Nov 10, 2011
- October Theatrical Preview Oct 06, 2011
- HDD's Exclusive Interview with Robert Forster Oct 03, 2011
- September Theatrical Preview Sep 13, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: Steven Soderbergh Sep 08, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: Paul Rudd Aug 25, 2011
- HDD's Exclusive Interview with Legendary VFX Designer John Dykstra Aug 25, 2011
- HDD Study Hall: 5 Fantastic Performances by Emma Stone Aug 11, 2011
- HDD's Interview with 'Another Earth' Star and Co-writer Brit Marling Jul 29, 2011
- HDD's Interview with 'Another Earth' Director and Co-writer Mike Cahill Jul 28, 2011
- HDD Picks The Top 10 Movies of 2011 (So Far) Jul 12, 2011
- 5 Films You Might Not Realize Were Directed by Martin Campbell Jun 16, 2011
- 5 Films You Probably Didn't Know Were Written by J.J. Abrams Jun 10, 2011
- HDD Breaking News: Secret 'Super 8' Showings TONIGHT! Jun 08, 2011
- HDD Exclusive: Our Interview With 'Beginners' Writer/Director Mike Mills Jun 07, 2011
- The Top 10 Comic Book Movies May 09, 2011
- Top 10 Anticipated Summer Blockbusters May 05, 2011
- EXCLUSIVE: Stunt Coordinator Andy Armstrong Talks 'Thor' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' with High-Def Digest May 04, 2011