Tuesday, May 20, 2014

FX Podcast interview with Gareth Edwards

FXGuide.com podcast link, with interviewer Mike Seymour @mikeseymour
Link to transcript by Ian Failes

Fantastic interview with Edwards where he goes into detail the struggles directors have with previs on big-budget feature films. In my limited experience, many of them seem to come into it with a somewhat adversarial attitude, and some stay this way until the end, but most warm up to it quickly after finding out how fast their ideas can be visualized with a team of 3D artists who are also versed in filmmaking and  cinematography. He even mentions the "pitchvis" that was made to help get the film greenlit by producers, and which provided several moments that ended up in the final film.

Edwards humbly gives the proper credit to the people who helped get the film where it needs to be, including Eric Carney, who was the Third Floor supervisor on the project. This was great to listen to, and something that I hope becomes the norm for future directors as they openly discuss how helpful previsualization is to making modern, VFX-driven films.

An excerpt from the transcript:

The Power of Previs

“When we started this, I hated the idea of previs,” recalls Edwards. “I thought it was going to rob the film of its soul. The idea of trying to pick shots and decide exactly what we were doing six months before we even stood on the location or met the actors – I wasn’t really into that. Even though I used to do computer graphics, I just felt like that was the antithesis of what I wanted to do.”

But Edwards says his attitude to previs changed after working with The Third Floor and an in-house MPC team on crafting Godzilla’s major action scenes. “What I didn’t appreciate was that when you do previs, what you’re really doing is getting a chance to make a mini version of a movie without any interference from anybody – you’re completely given free rein – it’s just you and the previs guys.”

He also discusses the temptation to show everything about the monster up front, but for proper tension, there must be a "cinematic foreplay" to tease the audience, "and hopefully they won't hate you for it." When you see the movie, you definitely notice some unexpected choices that err to the side of preserving tension throughout the first two acts, for better or for worse. Learning his rationale for these choices from the interview was very interesting. I can't wait to see it again, knowing more about the theory behind the direction.

Other great, slightly paraphrased quotes

"Eric Carney, who was the The Third Floor previs supervisor, did an amazing job. There's a lot of people's DNA in this film, and I think the previs guys definitely should take some credit, because stuck to that previs a lot, and it was kind of like my crutch...When you have a video that you can hit play on and it kind of works, and you're excited about it and other people are, it's good to be able to circulate to get these shots. ..... so whenever we got to the set pieces we spent so long getting it right in the previs, so in those areas we would often just go back to the previs and get it pretty much exactly right."

"Previs became this Bible for what we were going to shoot."

Finally, here is his quote about making on a Godzilla sequel:
"We'll see what happens...I'm sort of itching to have another crack at it, because I feel like we can do something even much better next time."

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