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Rusty Anderson Talks New Single Firefly, Paul McCartney’s Got Back Tour, & More

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As someone who had a hand-drawn picture of Paul McCartney hanging on my wall when I was in third grade and watched every concert movie/CD I could get my hands on — Back in the U.S. and Good Evening, New York City currently resides in my car’s CD player — I was overjoyed when I got Rusty Anderson, McCartney’s lead guitarist on tour for the last two decades, to agree to an interview. Here’s someone who I grew up watching on my TV, now in my Zoom room. Rusty was so gracious with his time, sitting in the Zoom meeting for 40 minutes as I asked him questions I was “destined to remember” from my own early days.

On his own merit, Rusty is an accomplished guitarist and singer/songwriter. His new single, Firefly, is incredible and is available on all streaming platforms now. As a guitarist, he’s also recorded with the likes of Elton John, Regina Spektor, Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Lana Del Rey, The New Radicals, Miley Cyrus, Michael Buble, and Little Richard, as well as his own four-album catalog and of course, Paul McCartney among many more. Additionally, Rusty is working on new music that will be released soon and his entire catalog will soon be available on streaming platforms.

Thank you to Rusty for agreeing to this interview, for generously giving me your time, and for letting me nerd out about an intricacy in your Let it Be solo. Read on if you want to hear about the recording process of Firefly, the techniques he used on that track, reflecting on the Got Back Tour, guitar solos, and so much more.


Coastal House Media: Before I get into your single Firefly, which I love, I wanted to ask for your perspective since you’ve been around for a long time. How has the music industry with the promotion of new music changed? I’ve noticed with singles, for example, it’s not like people buy 45s anymore with B-sides. Can I get your thoughts on that?

Rusty Anderson: Oh, It’s a completely different universe. I’ve been playing music my whole life and involved in the business in some way most of my life and it’s completely changed. Especially seeing the invention of cell phones and the digital age and stuff, the old way fell off a cliff, basically. Now it’s all about promoting through digital means, like playlists and streaming and the way that the record companies [have] kind of finagled along with YouTube and Spotify and all that. It’s very much like they left the leverage of the artist out of the whole thing. And I could go on and on about that, it’s kind of dark. But we make the most of it, don’t we?

CHM: Your new single, Firefly, is a digital release that just came out earlier this summer, about a month ago. It is really great and was curious if there were any songs that inspired this because it reminded me of someone and I couldn’t recall who.

Anderson: Yeah, it’s a good question. I just wrote it on piano, actually, the melody and music, and it stuck with me. I listened back to it again a few weeks later and thought, “Yeah, that’s good,” and then a friend of mine, Ron Sexsmith, who’s a wonderful songwriter, and I said, “Hey man, you want to try writing some lyrics to this tune?” And he said sure. I always wanted to do something with him. So he wrote some lyrics and then I thought, “Oh, that’s not quite the right vibe. Maybe a little more positive,” [and] we sort of worked it over it ended up becoming Firefly.

I thought, “Now that’s cool,” but then I couldn’t stop imagining hearing Stewart Copeland playing the drums, so I asked him if he wanted to play, he goes, “Yeah, sure.” Then he put his drums on [the track] and it just came together in this really interesting way. And just to keep the craziness going, I invited my friend Chris Shaffer along to share the lead vocals with me. We literally each sang half of the song. I co-wrote and produced his record a while ago and always loved his voice, so I kind of had fun with the whole process, because it’s enjoyable working with other people sometimes, especially if it’s a really great cast of talent.

CHM: So then it is you singing on the track? Your voice is amazing.

Anderson: Thanks! Yeah, how I worked [that] was we sort of trade-off, I’m singing, [then] he’s singing, [then] I’m singing, [then] he’s singing the lead vocal. I then produced the track, playing the guitars, bass, keys, and editing drums. It’s a process, you know, putting music together — it doesn’t just happen. You can just play it live as a band, though that usually doesn’t happen as much anymore, especially since COVID and people have their own studios. But it’s all got its different allures, I guess, the different ways of recording.

CHM: So how do you get your friends to play on your track? Do you say something like, “Oh, if you do this for me, I’ll play on your next song,”?

Anderson: [It] just depends on your relationship with the musician. Sometimes people get paid, [and] sometimes it turns into favors and all that. As I said, I’ve been working with Stewart, we were in a band together years ago called Animal Logic, and I’ve been working with him on this new orchestral stuff and he played on my tune. I don’t know, it just all works out.

CHM: Towards the end of the song, the guitar kind of reminds me, of My Sweet Lord, do you know what I’m talking about?

Anderson: The very end?

CHM: Yeah.

Anderson: Oh, you know, there are different techniques that I try to create that don’t always sound like a guitar. There’s a harp-picking technique that I think I used, maybe you’re referring to that. I kind of enjoy coming up with something maybe a little unexpected guitar-wise, because the guitar, as an instrument, [is] just so beautiful whether it’s electric or acoustic. And on Firefly, I mixed all of it together. There’re some electric bits, acoustic bits, effectual bits, like that harp-picking technique, but I always love that, the ability to sort of put on different layers of guitars and try to maybe create some new combinations of things that listeners wouldn’t expect. That’s what I strive for.

CHM: How long did Firefly take to make?

Anderson: It took a while because [of] everything going back and forth to different people. Stewart [Copeland] lives in LA, but he is over in his studio and then Ron Sexsmith lives up in Canada, so there’s a lot of things done online [and] that always takes a while for someone to do it and then get it together and then send it to you.

“It’s almost better [to] release a song at a time…maybe I’ll release a few; I don’t know.”

– Rusty anderson

CHM: Are you guys like sharing Google Files back and forth?

Anderson: [laughs] Yeah, that seems to be the way these days. But then it’s a trip. When I tour with Paul [McCartney], it’s all on a schedule. Everybody’s on a leash and you’re there, you go to the shows in each city, you all get up together, you soundcheck together, you perform together, hang out together, and chat about the show afterward on the bus or fly together and it’s just such a different reality. And I feel really privileged to be able to have all those experiences and create music in those different ways.

CHM: Before getting into Paul and all of that, do you have a new album coming out in the future or anything like that planned?

Anderson: Well, the way I’m sort of doing it, I released Firefly, and then I’ll release a few more songs. It seems like a good way to do it these days because sometimes if you release a whole album at once, it’s almost too much for the way the cycles of the media and online, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, playlists, it all takes time to sort of work it through that system. It’s almost better [to] release a song at a time…maybe I’ll release a few; I don’t know. I haven’t really figured out exactly which song I’m releasing next, but especially over the pandemic, I had some time to create and start recording things and get tracks together. [I] tried to make the best use of that time possible. That and hanging out with my family, doing paperwork, yoga, and stuff like that.

CHM: You’ve had a lengthy career, being a studio musician as well, and you’ve worked with a wide range of artists. I was just looking at the list and there are some that I would not have expected. You’ve done music for Tim McGraw and Michael Bublé. I know that some of these albums were from, I don’t know, 10 or more years ago, but how did that process work? Were you sending the stuff that you recorded on your own to a producer? Or were you going to a studio?

Anderson: Well, a lot of the time I just go down to a recording studio and play. Sometimes it’s a big tracking date where everyone plays together. Then sometimes just overdubs. Like I played on Livin’ la Vida Loca for Ricky Martin. I’d already done some stuff with him at that time, along with a friend who I’d worked with named, Robi Draco Rosa, who was one of the writers on that song. He has his own band that I’ve played with and we’ve written songs together, etc. Anyway, He asked me to play guitar on a demo and brought it over to my home studio. There were a few key blank spots for guitar so I came up with the parts right then and there, also engineering. it was done in an hour or two — it was really quick. I didn’t really have a reverb unit at the time that I liked — I think my gear was somewhere else — so I thought, “Well, I won’t put any reverb on this, because obviously, it needs it, but I’m sure they will add it in the mix.” He goes, “Okay.”

So the record company called me and said, “Oh, by the way, they’re going to use that demo as the actual record.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool.” And then they call back, “Oh, by the way, it’s the first song on the record,” “Oh, by the way, it’s the single,” “Oh, by the way, it’s huge.” And then I’m in the health club working out on the treadmill or something, and I hear it in the background and I was just shocked because all of a sudden the guitar came on and there was no reverb, just bone-dry. And I thought, “Wow, they didn’t even put any on,” and in a way, I think it became the sound of that song — it became a thing, in a way, having more kind of a unique sound than if I would’ve put reverb on it. But it just kind of shocked me because these things are never as you expect, there’s always some element of surprise, you know?

And sometimes you go to a recording studio [where] there’s a whole band and you track the songs together.  And then I stick around and do some guitar overdubs. Or a lot of times, people will send me music and I’ll play on [top of] it. And I’ll do the same if I’m working on my stuff and send it out to other people and they’ll put some music in and send it back. Or sometimes we’ve cut songs together in a studio. Like on my first record. I have four records out, Firefly makes the fifth release, I believe, and the first one I did, Paul McCartney played on it and he sang background and played bass and even some guitar. We just showed up at the studio together, it was the whole Paul McCartney band: Abe [Laboriel Jr.], “Wix” [Paul Wickens], and Brian [Ray], and I was just so floored! It was such a privileged to work with those talented people and be able to pull everyone together. And David Kahne was producing; it was really magical.

We got the basic tracks together and then Paul calls me the next day and he says, “I really like that track that we did.” He says that this one section — he called [it] the “rescue bit — which was a section where I didn’t know what I was going to do, he says “It’d be really cool to put some other instrument in there,” maybe a flugelhorn or an oboe, or a flute, or something surprising. So then I called my friend who plays with Brian Wilson, named Proben Gregory, he plays like four different orchestral instruments, to overdub in the rescue bit. And sure enough, it had a unique sound that I never really would’ve thought of.

And that’s another fun thing about working with people, especially someone as incredibly talented as Paul McCartney. They may contribute unexpected ideas. Of the records I’ve released, they seem to get done in different ways, with different musicians, actually.

CHM: When I was looking you up on Apple Music, I only saw two albums. Is it because Rusty Anderson Afternoon is a separate category?

Anderson: Actually, I’m glad you asked that because I’m in the process of getting those back online. There was a section, [but] I took them down because I wasn’t happy with the business arrangement. I think two of them are under Rusty Anderson Afternoon, which really refers to a band vibe with my buddy Todd O’Keefe — he’s a very talented cat, too — the rest of them are simply as Rusty Anderson. But yeah, they’re going back up. And obviously, you can buy all this stuff on my website, if you are into CDs or downloads, but anyway, I took those down a while ago and I’m just putting them back up now. And you can catch the music [and] those videos on YouTube.

CHM: I would love to transition over to Paul if that’s okay. You’ve now toured for 20 years, I’ve been lucky enough to see you twice in 2015, and then this past year, How easy are these songs to play for you guys? It looks so effortless to you in particular.

Anderson: Well, it’s interesting because certain songs require more focus than others; or certain sections in songs. I mean, I’ve been playing guitar since I was a kid, so unless it’s some really intense jazz or classical bit or something, it doesn’t require a whole lot of focus to be able to play it. But there’s a thing called muscle memory, and once you rehearse a song and get it in your fingers and in your DNA and everything, it requires less thought. And it’s better if you don’t think too much.

And, you know, most of these are now classic songs, and so I’ve heard them for years. In fact, it’s so crazy because I remember when I first started playing with Paul, there was a time when we were playing a song and then it came time for the solo. And I was just kind of jamming along and I think I missed a couple [of] notes of the solo realizing that I was actually playing it because it almost feels like the songs play themselves, this music, you know? It’s really hard to explain.

CHM: That actually leads to a question that I had for you. You play a lot of the solos for Paul, some of them are just iconic and you stay close to the original, i.e. Maybe I’m Amazed, Something, My Love, but what did he tell you in regards to playing them? Did you have to stick to the original?  

Anderson: I think I’ve used my intuition on that. I am such a fan of Paul and The Beatles and his career and all that, [and] there are certain songs that you just can’t mess with the melodies, [they] are too strong. You could play something else, but it would just be disappointing and it doesn’t peak the moment, you know? You have this incredible vibe happening with everybody there, the big audience, and everyone’s on the same page. We’re all together, celebrating these incredible songs and I think it would be a big disservice to all of a sudden play some other melody instead of the one that’s there. But that’s not always the case. Let it Be, for example, is more of a modality or a style that’s being played as opposed to melodies that are really specific. So I’ll kind of just improvise that one and let it flow to different places it wants to go.

My personal favorite rendition of Rusty’s solo on Let it Be.

[Then with] something like, well, Something, the song [laughs], [which] has such an incredible solo in it and is one of my favorite [George] Harrison moments whether it’s guitar or vocal. It’s just such a brilliant bit that he came up with and I really didn’t want to do that any disservice. And I’ll put my “English” on it and maybe spin the phrasing a little bit differently, but the basic substance of the notes I think are sometimes really important and sometimes not as much and I think this song [Something] spells it out.

CHM: Shifting gears to some rapid-fire questions, I know you guys alternated between New and Queenie Eye on this past tour [the Got Back Tour], do you prefer one over the other in terms of playing?

Anderson: No, I mean, they’re really different songs. I’d say New is a little easier to play; Queenie Eye has a strange guitar tuning with a slide and takes a little more focus, but I really enjoy the rhythm of that song and it’s got a cool chorus, I dig it.

New is really cool, too. I mean, it’s sort of “pop-y,” but in this sort of way that Paul almost seemed to have invented. It’s hard to explain. But that’s a cool arrangement, too. A lot of the horn parts and the guitar play together, it’s really weird. It sounds like it flows as a band, but if you just isolated the guitar part in New, you’d be surprised.

CHM: I think that the last time you guys were on the road before COVID, in the second or third slot, you guys would play Hi, Hi, Hi, generally speaking, and now you guys play Junior’s Farm. I’m glad to have gotten to hear both live, but do you have a preference between either of those?

Anderson: I like Junior’s Farm, it’s cool. It was a radio hit back in the day and I was very young, so it has a certain amount of awesomeness that stands the test of time quite well. Hi, Hi, Hi was also a hit back in the day, and that’s cool, too. It’s a little bit more kind of a straight-up, sort of “boogie-blues” vibe. Which is cool, but not as special as Junior’s Farm to me.

But, that’s the thing about a setlist. If you had like a thousand people putting setlists together, you’d have a thousand different setlists because everyone’s got their own perspective, that’s the beauty of music. People hear into things, they have their own interpretations, whether it’s a piece of art, a song, a painting, or a book, people interpret it. And that interpretation is what bonds people together. And it’s “loosey-goosey,” it’s an individual experience for everybody. And that’s the beauty of art and that’s the beauty of music; you could have like, the musicians’ Hall of Fame or Rolling Stone’s greatest songs of all time, but they’re all just opinions.

CHM: Do you have a favorite opener that you guys did? I know you guys used to do Eight Days a Week, Save Us, or Hello, Goodbye, and now, Can’t Buy Me Love. What’s your favorite way to kick off a concert?

Anderson: Eight Days a Week was cool or A Hard Day’s Night. I enjoy them all, actually.

CHM: Are there any songs that you guys used to play more that, you kind of miss? I’m mad that you guys started playing Jet right after Syracuse, I just missed it.

Anderson: We played it [Jet] at soundcheck one day and I said, “Paul, we should maybe put Jet in the set.” He goes, “Yeah, I think you’re right.” I don’t always insert my opinion, but every once in a while, I will. And that ended up in a few of the sets and I always enjoy playing that song [Jet] just because it’s such an unusual track and it’s [got] a lot of the elements Paul does so well together in one song and I love the way the band plays it — it’s just got this energy to it. It always feels exciting.”

CHM: Do you have any songs in particular — besides Jet — that you miss playing or wish you could play more?

Anderson: I was glad we started playing She Came in Through the Bathroom Window. On this last tour, we did a section from Abbey Road that Paul, had never played — that was really cool. It had [a portion of] You Never Give Me Your Money, except for [a portion missing from] the very beginning of it. It’s hard to categorize when you take a song out a little bit out of context from Abbey Road, but it was on the second side — [part of] that whole medley thing.

Too Many People was always fun. [There’s] just such an incredible wealth of amazing songs, they’re sort of timeless and awesome to play [and] keep coming back to them.

CHM: Are there any songs you haven’t played with Paul from his catalog or The Beatles’ catalog that you’d like to play? I know you said that you don’t like to insert your opinion on the setlist too much, but if you did…

Well, I have a few times. I sort of pushed Helter Skelter back in the day and he [Paul McCartney] wasn’t sure. And then we finally played it and it went over like gangbusters. So it ended up in the set. I’d love to do The Back Seat of My Car. We sort of rehearsed it, but never ended up doing it. Or Little Lamb Dragonfly, [which] we never rehearsed. I don’t know, there’s been a few that got suggested by people that we never quite ended up putting in the set, or sometimes they get in the set and then we do it for a tour or two and then never play it again.

CHM: You said Paul was a little skeptical about Helter Skelter, was that just because of the controversy or because of the arrangement of the song? Or maybe the way the crowd might receive it?

Anderson: Oh, I think it was the controversial aspect of it back in the day, but that’s all gone. I mean, why should a song be connected to some psycho just because they liked it? There are a million Beatles fans and Paul McCartney fans around the world and everyone has their favorite songs and their connection to the songs, so I don’t know — I thought it was a little silly.

CHM: Do you remember playing Helter Skelter in Boston a few years back with Rob Gronkowski on stage? I recently came across this video, have you seen the YouTube video? Because the way you’re looking at Gronkowski is hilarious; you’re looking at him like he’s something out of this world.

Anderson: I mean, he is! He’s a very tall, giant athlete and obviously incredibly talented and it’s just the energy he was putting out and the sort of scope of it on stage was like something to behold.

CHM: To begin closing out, I wanted to talk about The End, the song you guys always end on whether it’s following the “Abbey Road medley” or the “Sgt. Peppers reprise.” Of course, during The End, you guys always have that little jam and I love that moment where you guys are just having fun — it looks like you’re just in the garage, jamming out together. I don’t hear every single concert, but I know that there are a couple of bits there that you have to play from the original track, but how structured is this jam?

Anderson: We don’t have to do anything. I mean, there are certain licks that are really cool that we sort of want to throw in because they’re so good, and then at a certain point, we [are] just doing whatever.

CHM: I could be wrong, but Paul usually ends it right with the little riff that ends the solo on the original track, right?

Anderson: That’s the cue that we’re ending it, people recognize it.

CHM: I know that I keep saying “last question,” but this truly is my last question for you. Do you remember the Syracuse concert? During Live and Let Die, the fireworks were going off, but were they especially loud during this show? Because I was further back and it seemed loud and Paul’s reaction definitely gave the impression that it was louder than usual.

Anderson: I don’t remember, man. I mean, I know that one night they’re loud, next night, they’re super loud, next night, they might be quieter. They’re usually about the same volume, but every once in a while there’s some acoustic element or they have different laws in different states and different countries or different venues. I think the Hard Rock [stadium] had its own laws there.

CHM: So do you wear the in-ear monitors on stage? Perhaps that quiets the pyro noise...

Anderson: I’ve been messing with that. I kind of mostly have been using in-ear filters, which, in theory, filter out everything equally, so it’s like a master volume turning it down, but it doesn’t really work that way because you get more bass than you do high-end. Like, if you stick cotton in your ears, it kind of goes [vocalizes muffled sound]. So it’s like halfway between hearing normal and a little bit [like with] cotton. But that’s usually what works best for me on stage because it’s a very different thing to perform than it is to listen in the audience because you’re not hearing a mix like everyone else hears. You’re hearing what you need to hear to be able to perform.

Firefly is available to stream now on all digital platforms.


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Interviews

Cinematographers Bianca Cline and Eric Adkins Talk Bringing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On to Life | Interview

‘Marcel the Shell’ cinematographers Bianca Cline (live-action) and Eric Adkins (stop-motion) discuss bringing the one-inch-tall shell to life in time for the film’s digital release.

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Very few films are as small (literally and figuratively) but pack the emotional punch that Marcel the Shell with Shoes On does. Dean Fleischer-Camp’s film is an extension of the web shorts that date back over a decade ago. The first short has over 32 million views as of July 2022, and what began as a three-minute short has now expanded into a 90-minute feature film.

Jenny Slate voices the adorable Marcel, a one-inch-tall shell that is being interviewed by Dean, played by Fleischer-Camp himself, a young filmmaker who I mistook for Cooper Raiff just by his voice. But like Raiff, who is an up-and-coming filmmaker himself, Fleischer-Camp has made a special film with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and it’s a film that truly appeals to all audiences (bring tissues for a beautiful rendition of an Eagles classic).

A still from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Photo courtesy of A24.

I could go on about the film for hours, but because of the dense nature of this interview, I’ll introduce our subjects. I spoke with live-action and stop-motion cinematographers, Bianca Cline and Eric Adkins over Zoom. They were so generous with their time, and I had so much fun hearing them go into such detail about the process of making the film that you won’t get anywhere else. In this interview, they discuss what their unique working relationship was like, the differences in techniques filming live-action and stop-motion, and the way the two blend together.

Coastal House Media: Could you two describe what your working relationship on this project was like?

Bianca Cline: It’s a really unique film because it wasn’t one or the other [live-action or stop-motion] — the two overlap quite a bit. It wasn’t like there were sections that are stop-motion and sections that are live-action, it was a constant blending of the two. When I came on in pre-production, they hadn’t hired a stop-motion DP, and so I was like really excited when I met Eric [Adkins] because that collaboration was going to be so important but also unusual because it’s not like there were normal delegations the way you would [have them] with grip, electric, or the art department, so it was like we were developing a new thing and it was different for Eric because [he] doesn’t usually have to work with somebody like me.

We started the film like a live-action film. I think we filmed for 24 days, but there was so much more that went into it. We wanted Marcel and his grandmother and some of the other characters to always be made in stop-motion instead of doing them as CGI characters. But doing that isn’t as simple as just doing the character and putting it in because he’s constantly interacting with things that are in the real world, spoons, books, fruit and all of these other things including living things like grass and dirt — dirt’s not alive — but tangible, organic things. So it was a constant puzzle of [figuring out] which pieces need to be replicated in stop-motion, which parts need to be captured in the live-action portion of the film, and also [figuring out] what things can work for the stop-motion; like what kind of camera movement can work? What kind of lighting is going to be replicable [without] adding too much? If it’s going to make the film much better, we’d do it that way.

And Eric was there every day of the live-action [portion of filming], constantly watching what I was doing because we were creating the look of the film there, but it [also] needed to be replicated on a stage, which is a much different situation especially since we wanted it to feel like a documentary. Even though most of the lighting wasn’t natural, we had to make it feel natural and we were trying to push the envelope a bit with things that you might do in stop-motion because we had the opportunity. With live-action, you might film sunlight coming in the window with leaves which [are] constantly moving and is something that [is] very easy for me to film but then super difficult for Eric to replicate on stage.

Eric Adkins: Early on, I did some testings almost a year before the live-action [filming] and we were trying to figure out what would be the easiest way to do these interactions. And what came out of that was that the real high-tech way, which not only would be extremely expensive but also was the least successful way how to go, especially because the original production — the little web episodes — were done by this director [Dean Fleischer-Camp] who is an editor [and he] would essentially do a live take and then animate many different cuts and animate in post [production] and edit. So what was baked in was this beautiful movement of wind blowing, a branch or something, or light shifting because of the window. Traditionally, you don’t do that in stop-motion; you control that stuff and make that not happen, so the idea of working with this fluid live-action feel came down to trying to interact with what is captured as much as possible.

So while live-action is beautiful and sometimes you capture unique things, my part was to actually translate what was captured and actually lock it into something that is a reaction to what was given.

The fact that you’re dealing with live actors too was really kind of interesting because there were all [of] these focus issues: making sure you’re not too closely-focused, making sure it’s not a diopter situation where you ruin the background focus just for the sake of what’s up front. So it’s really a nice, collaborative scenario where each of us are doing our own jobs but [are] also working together to try to create a whole, and it was really fun to do that.

CHM: So neither of you worked on the original short films then?

Cline: Yeah, I think it was just Dean [Fleischer-Camp] and Jenny [Slate] that made those.

A still from the set of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Photo courtesy of A24.

CHM: Whenever I interview a duo that worked together, I like to ask this. Could you guys complement each other and name one thing that the other brought to the table?

Cline: Going in, I was really worried. I thought that it would be very restrictive, that Eric [Adkins] would say, “Oh, that’s too hard for me to replicate,” or, “I can’t do that,” over a sustained period because it could take days to do one scene [and] we wanted it to feel spontaneous so that it would feel like a documentary [and] also so Marcel would feel more real. I thought that that would be really difficult, that it was going to be very restrictive, that we’d have to have the camera locked off a lot and that camera movement or having interactive lighting would be tricky, and Eric was just constantly pushing to make those things better. I’m like, “Oh, let’s film the scene with candles,” and sure, it’d [have] super unpredictable lighting, but Eric was like, “Yeah, we’ll find a way [and] we’ll make it work.”

He [Eric] was taking notes on everything; how the lighting was working and focal distance and lens and was never snobbish. I could just do my job [and] didn’t have to worry about all those things because Eric was just on top of it constantly.

Adkins: Well, thank you. I felt blessed in the sense that the spirit of Bianca and what she was trying to achieve and her relationship with the Dean [Fleischer-Camp] the director whom I knew a little bit about but I didn’t know as much about the project as a whole; that was probably a good thing [because] it was just nice to experience firsthand what was transpiring, what was being worked out, [and] not only Bianca was inclusive, but [the] entire crew was very helpful to me, too. It must have been weird [to have] this guy taking notes and eventually he’s going to take over the show, but yet, her whole crew was very supportive and giving me color temperature reports or distance to the main subject on [a given] take and we were all doing different things and because of that, I think we were able to just work well with each other.

I think when you work with stop-motion people, they’re working so tight that you really have to have a good spirit in life, and so going into a live-action world, I knew I wasn’t going to be a problem but I also was really happy that I was included and [that I] had a good time.

Cline: I didn’t even know that that was happening, Eric. [There’s] a whole world of numbers and problems that I just didn’t even have to think about or worry about [and it was] so nice that it was taken care of without me having to think about it. 

CHM: We’ve talked a lot about stop-motion, but was there any CGI in the film or is it all stop-motion?

A still from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Photo courtesy of A24.

Adkins: Well, we had puppet people there to not only move characters around if Kirsten [Lepore], the animation director, didn’t do it, but things like the worm going through the box were practical puppetry in real live-action and then we had some puppets that were oversized that we were going to use for the bee or the spider and all that. But they decided to actually photograph those objects because the bee was going to be so small and the spiders’ part grew. But [because] they’re so detailed, the spiders ended up being CGI. Some of the mannerisms were based out of some puppetry and some design work that [would have] been done had they been stop-motion puppets, and they would put them on a Lazy Susan, a rotisserie gear, getting a 360º of them so they could actually scan them so [that] they could actually play with them. [While] they were authentic to the puppet creation, they ended up being sourced-out CGI. But everything else, all the shells, all [of] the other products that were used, were stop-motion. They weren’t real shells; some of them were, but the lead characters were not because they had to be exactly the same, [though] they were designed after a real shell. We had like a dozen Marcel’s on set.

CHM: I heard that Bianca, you have some stories about creating the look of the film and the landscape, for Eric to do the stop-motion work. Would you be able to share any of those?

Cline: I mean, we wanted the film to feel a little bit homemade, so we wanted there to be some amount of the film feeling kind of “off the cuff,” a little bit thrown away in certain ways because it’s meant to just be impromptu. Not every scene, but for the majority of the film is meant to be this filmmaker named Dean who’ll [see] Marcel has something to say and film, so we wanted everything to feel very spontaneous but obviously it doesn’t work that way, especially with feature films in general. But [we] also knew that it had to be replicated, so everything was very planned but had to feel like it wasn’t, which is a really difficult thing to do. It’s like trying to make something [that is] super controlled but make it feel like it’s a little bit chaotic and out of control.

We filmed almost the entire thing in one house — I think it was 18 days in this one house —so the house was also our production office for pre-production so we were basically there every day. I’d spend 12 hours a day at this house and when I came on the film there, actually I didn’t see a script and they sent me locked audio; it was like sound effects, dialogue, music, everything was fairly locked and they had storyboards to go with it.

And then what we did during prep was Dean and I kind of went around the house and found locations in the house that would work for the different scenes. And [if] we would find [that] we had too many scenes in the kitchen [we’d] try to find somewhere else and look to spread it out and so by the time we started production, we had locked audio with photo boards that you could watch. They’re all stills, but you could just watch, see this is happening here, this is happening here, which was really great for inter-departmental work, especially [as] everything becomes very complicated.

Usually, when you’re filming a live-action with human actors, it would just be like, “Okay, the art department will dress this room and it’s fine and we’ll put the lights outside the windows,” but it just didn’t work that way because, if he [Marcel] is interacting with certain things cannot be replicated or cannot be removed from the house [like] a hundred-year-old wood floor [that you] can’t pull out and take it to the stage. So [we’d] set him [Marcel] on a book or something that can be taken to the end; [we would] like constantly [have to do] that.

The other thing that was really tricky was Marcel is very, very tiny and [while] he comes across as small, when you’re thinking about it, I think he’s less than one-inch [tall]. Trying to film somebody that small is difficult without looking down on him all the time, and we wanted to have depth and feel things and other characters in the film as well as we wanted to be at Marcel’s eye level just so he could be in his world.

We ended up doing a lot of testing for the scenes that were going to be on the actual floor or on surfaces where we couldn’t lift him up. We got prisms and we would film him; so the lens was all the way to the floor and then we were just trying to incorporate a lot of things that you would into a documentary like filming near windows and filming near lamps and light sources and as well as what Marcel [would] do, what’s going to be really cute [and asking] What does he do in that world?

We sat with a couple of people, I can’t remember their names; [one] developed all of the treehouses and there was another woman who was developing props, little chairs and little things that Marcel would live in and that a one-inch-tall character would create. So we were constantly trying to do that, repurposing candles; birthday candles become this thing that lights the entire room if you’re one-inch-tall, that was kind of our theme, that’s the world we want and then we’ll see how we can make it work on a stop-motion stage.

A still from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Photo courtesy of A24.

CHM: This is probably going to sound like a stupid question, but you mentioned some of those shots where you’re looking at him on the ground, whether he is being chased around or running around or whatever the case is, is Marcel CGI in those scenes, or is that all stop-motion?

Adkins: You know, the live-action unit shot reference footage of the character in the route, but we also put tracking dots on the floor: one that represented another character, one that represented the Marcel in the route that they were going to take and the focus defined where the contact was going to be. But if it was a wide shot of Marcel running down the floor, it was still stop-motion. We would actually cheat the scale of it and shoot it closer, but as long as we had the measure distance that they ran and we were at the right tilt angle and the right lens, everything could just be placed in there and tracked with it.

As far as my knowledge, none of Marcel or Connie was CGI, but the concept of a wide-shot, like the bee who was a non-supporting character [doesn’t] make ground contact so why not have it be an object just floating around? As far as Marcel and the contact, we had different surfaces whether it was a wood floor or a metal enamel on top of the washer machine, there were always different reflections. There were always different things that helped make Marcel feel attached to that surface, even on the glass table where the dog was interacting [with it]; there was the puppeteer flicking water up in the dog’s face and there was the glass top surface and we got the natural reflection of that table. It was a nice blend and yet they were shot in two separate worlds.

Cline: My kids were asking me about that shot last night. They were like, “How did you get the dog to do that? And the water?” and I was [like], “Well, it’s actually a bunch of different shots composed together.”

Adkins: I think it’s even confusing for me sometimes, and I was glad I watched it the other day again because sometimes there were things that were completely replaced and sometimes they were just applied onto the existing surface that was in the actual plate. It was easy for them to roto the coffee table and have the background be in there, but when there was an elaborate camera move or something that, the dynamics and the layout were changed.

It’s all about interactivity and making it believable. Sometimes the animators would use sticky wax or things that would’ve fixed the character and then the cleanup artist has to paint all that out because that wouldn’t be there or how shiny the map ended up becoming because the wax kind of bored into the paper pulp of it and then all of a sudden the lights got a lot more contrasting, but “Hey!,” we said, “it’s GoPro footage — it’s going be a little bit hot,” you know?

CHM: There’s a scene where Marcel is trying to launch a fruit onto a shelf, was that done with the same process you guys just talked about?

Cline: No, I mean, we did it fairly practically on set. Our puppeteer had a stick with an actual Marcel on it and he [was] trying to drop down into frame, hit the spoon and make the berry fly for real. Other than [that], we’d replace the black stick that he was holding and the Marcel and replace him with a stop-motion Marcel, right? That was at least the plan on set, I don’t know how it actually went.

Adkins: Yeah, I looked at that shot again because it was a sequence of shots and I think that there were some shots that were practical that were left like Marcel [was] flicked over and just laid there and didn’t move and then there were shots where Marcel hit it and then walked away.

I know we lined up the spoons exactly the way it was and tried to create reflections within the spoon that felt like they were in that environment. I don’t know because I wasn’t part of the composite layer of how much of that was actually reused from the plates and how much was over-shot because the animator physically had to animate the spoon to copy the movement of the spoon of each take. So it was rapid-fire recreation and whether or not they just used the reflection of the spoon or the whole spoon, it’s a mystery to us, too. 

Cline: There are two more people on this team: Kirsten Lepore, the animation director, and Zdravko Stoitchkov, the visual effect supervisor. The four of us together had a really symbiotic relationship.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is still in select theaters now and available for rental on digital platforms. For information about showtimes, click here.


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Alex Lehmann Discusses Tackling the Rom-Com Genre with Meet Cute, Filming in New York City and Working with Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco | Interview

The ‘Meet Cute’ director sheds light on bringing something new to the rom-com table.

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2022 has been a big year for the rom-com. In the first quarter of the year, we got the J-Lo and Owen Wilson-led Marry Me, The Lost City starring Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock and next month we have George Clooney and Julia Roberts starring in Ticket to Paradise. But Meet Cute is set to take the rom-com genre by storm. It follows Sheila (Kaley Cuoco), who discovers a time machine and uses it to relive the same date that spawns from a “meet cute” with Gary (Pete Davidson). It’s like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Palm Springs from a few years back, and it’s truly something special and unique. 

In this interview, I talked with director Alex Lehmann about approaching the rom-com genre, filming in New York City and working with Couco and Davidson. Thank you to those at Peacock and Brigade Marketing for allowing me the chance to speak with Lehmann and seeing the film early. You can watch Meet Cute on Peacock on September 21.


Coastal House Media: Congratulations on Meet Cute! I’m not a big rom-com fan, but I really enjoyed your film. 

Alex Lehmann: I’m not a rom-com fan either [smiles].  

CHM: Oh, good [laughs], we’ll get right into that in a second, but I just wanna ask you because I haven’t seen any of your other films, could you pitch me one of your films to watch?

Lehmann: Sure, there’s a film called Paddleton and it’s [about] two older men, one of them has terminal cancer and he asks his friend to help him do [the] “death with dignity” thing — you know, die on his own terms — and it’s a comedy, [which] is the best part, but it’s not like a gallows comedy.

So yeah, it’s another two-hander and that was with Ray Ramano. But kind of like Meet Cute, I think it’s about finding the more honest version of a film that we’ve maybe seen before and using that honesty as an entry point for humor and for a little more humanity than, you know, like the more commercial film we’ve seen before [that] glosses over [it]

CHM: So you kind of answered my next question earlier, I guess you’re not a big rom-com fan, so I’m then curious why you decided to kind of dive into that genre. Was it that it just happened to be a rom-com? You just liked the script? Or did you think that maybe you could add something new to the genre?

Lehmann: Well, I’m there are some rom-coms that I love. They’re maybe not what everybody would call a rom-com, but I’m a huge romance fan, and I guess that’s the bigger thing: I love love, and I love relationships. And I loved the relationship between Gary (Davidson) and Sheila (Cuoco). 

(L-R): Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco in Meet Cute. Photo courtesy of Peacock.

The reason I usually don’t like romcoms is we root for these people to do really crazy things to fall in love with each other — kind of messed up things. Oftentimes we just pretend it’s all okay — even though it’s a little weird — and then by the end of it, we’re like, Thank goodness she got together with him! [and] the credits role. And then the next summer we’d go see a movie where she’s now falling in love with another guy, and I’ll [be] like: What happened to this relationship? We were so invested [and] what happened to the other guy? Like, we just don’t care anymore.

And so what’s great about Meet Cute is, through Noga [Pnueli]’s really smart writing, there’s this device where we get to look at more of a relationship than the typical rom-com. And we get to see what happens when you see the things that you fall in love with someone start to be the things that annoy you about them or that you’re like critical of. And then it [the film] really does explore those next couple years in a relationship where you’re like: Can I change them? Can I make them the person I want them to be? That spoke to me as a really honest rom-com [and] I think this is an honest rom-com even though it’s got a tanning bed time machine [laughs]. 

CHM: Where did the idea for the time machine being a tanning bed come from? Was that in the script already, or was that something you added? 

Lehmann: No, the tanning bed was in the script already, and it’s brilliant. You know, more important than the tanning bed is the person operating the tanning bed [which] is the June character who was written brilliantly and performed even more brilliantly by Deborah S. Craig.

I think [in] most of the movies that I would see with this device and that character, I would roll my eyes [at] because that character is usually really trope-y and is kind of like the genie that’s just there to serve everybody and doesn’t have any attitude and doesn’t have a complete story. 

(L-R): Deborah S. Craig and Kaley Cuoco as Sheila in Meet Cute. Photo courtesy of Peacock.

Honestly, June really was one of the selling points to me for the film because she was a full character and she added really a lot of meaning to what the story is, which is the whole concept of your scars and [how] your trauma is a part of who you are. You can’t just erase that without erasing, your identity, essentially. She was really cool and she makes the tanning bed cool. The tanning bed’s funny but not gonna take us on a whole ride unless you have the best operator.

CHM: There are plenty film references that are sprinkled in the film ranging from Blade Runner to The Terminator to Sophie’s Choice. Were all those already in the script or did you have any input on which films were mentioned? 

Lehmann: So I do a lot of dramatic and comedic improv on my films, especially when you’re working with Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco, like, why not see what you can do? So we improv’d a lot of that stuff. I think we discovered one day on set [that] Gary should be a cinephile because that’s all Pete Davidson did, was watch movies as a kid in the basement of his house.

And I was like, “Let’s just lean into that and hear him go on a rant about all his favorite movies,” which is both lovable and also makes him sound like a total film dork, which he is. 

CHM: I wanna get into the time-loop of it all. I would say that despite some flashbacks and other locations, most of the film repeats the same night with the same actors and the same outfits. How do you go about filming these sequences? Do you knock out X amount of takes in the bar before moving onto a new location?

Lehmann: Yeah, there’s really two ways, I guess, that we could have gone and there have been a few time-loop, time-travel movies — especially recently — and I think we stand apart from them and part of the reason is we’re not really obsessive about the intricacies of like, you know, “the phone needs to ring at this point,” and then “this person drops their glass,” there’s that version where our whole production office would’ve been [covered in] a bunch of red yarn and whiteboards [saying] like, “Okay, this happens at this [point].” 

Or, we just say, “You know what, this is an emotional time-travel movie and the audience is really smart and the audience wants to have fun. We’re gonna write a couple of really good jokes, mostly for June, but also for the other characters where we basically dismiss and joke, like the owner going back to sell the time machine.” You write a couple of those and then the audience is totally on board with it without them playing detective and trying to like catch stuff because, you know, life is messy — that’s the whole point, and I would like to think that time-travel is not as clean as “everything happens exactly the same time every day.”

But yeah, the way we filmed it was called “block shooting,” where we’re in the bar for three days and then we’re on the street for three days and then we’re in the Indian restaurant for three days. That could have gotten old if it wasn’t for the fact that Pete and Kaley are so funny. 

The hardest thing for me was when Pete would just start making us all laugh because he’d just go on these tangents that were hilarious — not usable at all for the movie — but so funny that we just kind of had to, for five minutes, just sit back and enjoy [his] comedic style.

Pete Davidson in Meet Cute. Photo courtesy of Peacock.

CHM: Speaking of your lead actors, I noticed that both of them are executive producers on the film. In your estimation, what do you think it was about this particular project that got them to really show their faith in it? 

Lehmann: I think it was giving them the power to be able to fire me at any moment. That’s really the reason they signed on. I promised them that they could literally fire me at any point. Kaley never did, Pete fired me every single morning but then would hire me right before we would start shooting again [laughs].  No, they were great collaborators.

I mean, you get actors of their level, their talent, their fame to do something like this because it excites them. Nobody’s showing up for this gritty New York City tight schedule shoot unless they absolutely love the characters and they think that there’s a lot of room to play. 

And that’s what shooting was. I felt like I was just playing with Pete and Kaley on camera for a month straight. 

CHM: And they have great chemistry, which is vital to a movie like this. Did they just show up on set and it was natural, or did you have them do anything together before shooting?

Lehmann: Actually, the first time that we met, they both happened to be in LA — I was flying back from New York, I had just done some location scouting — and the three of us went to an escape room and that was an absolute blast.

We did horribly, like, we did not escape. We would’ve died in that room if it was like a Saw-type situation, thank God it was just, a game [smiles]. But yeah, we bonded a lot in that escape room session and got some lunch and I remember [that] I called the producers afterward, I was like, “These guys have so much chemistry, it’s just great.”

CHM: I also read that you’ve known your cinematographer on this film, John [Matysiak], for a long time, right? I think since college? 

Lehmann: That’s impressive. Yes, I’ve known him since college. 

(L-R): Kaley Cuoco and Deborah S. Craig in Meet Cute. Photo courtesy of Peacock.

CHM: So I’m speaking to him next week and I’m just curious, are there any fun college memories that I can bring up to him when I talk to him next week?

Lehmann: [laughs] Well, we were in film school when we met, you know? And so what does every film student have in common? They think they know a lot more than they actually do and so I think what’s awesome is when we were making student films, we were these cocky kids and maybe a little too arrogant and not as collaborative because we all needed to prove ourselves. And I love that 20 years later, he and I reunite — we had just done another movie of mine, Acidman, and then we’re doing this movie [Meet Cute] — and I think we’ve been humbled enough in what it’s taken to get to where we are. Ego’s [have] just gone out the window and we’re so excited to work with each other. And we’re so excited to like both fail and succeed and just to explore everything. So it’s been really cool seeing him and myself grow up, right? It’s just a window to tear past, which I’m obviously a very nostalgic person, so that’s always an enjoyable collaboration. 

CHM: And going back to New York, you talked about location scouting, what did that look like for you? Did you go in with any expectations or you were just open to everything? 

Lehmann: Well, a couple of things happened. First of all, I started walking around the streets and it was so loud. I remember calling a friend of mine who just made a movie in New York and I was like, “How do you record dialogue anywhere? It’s so loud,” [and] I couldn’t even hear him on the phone. I was like: What am I gonna do? 

The other thing is, I didn’t wanna go looking for the New York that I see in other movies. I wanted to film the New York that I saw just walking around, the experience that I actually got. So, for example, walking down a certain section of New York, hearing a lot of Latin music, Cumbia music — which is in the film — or seeing guys play checkers on the street, the multicultural aspect of New York, I felt was really cool and I wanted it to show that — I wanted to capture that. 

And then I also love the fact that there’s a bunch of trash on the sidewalks everywhere. My production designers, they kept asking my production team, they’d be like, “We gotta remove the trash from that sidewalk,” I was like, “Don’t touch it — that’s New York.” You know, the scaffolding, that’s New York. Like I don’t need that beautiful, curated New York that doesn’t exist. I want the New York that I actually experienced walking around and scouted.

(L-R): Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco in Meet Cute. Photo courtesy of Peacock.

CHM: So was the plan always to have the film set in New York or were other states ever considered? 

Lehmann: It was always written as, [New York City]. I mean, New York City, man, that is the place to tell a love story. The fact that there are so many people in that city and you can feel so alone walking — I felt so alone walking [while] scouting. I remember I would try to make eye contact with people. I’m an LA dude, I like to smile at people [while] walking, looking for locations [laughs] and they were freaked out, they thought I was gonna like mug them or stab them [and were] like, Why is this guy smiling at me? It really taught me immediately that like, you can feel so alone in a city of so many people, which is the best backdrop for telling a love story, let alone a “meet cute” love story. 

CHM: My last question for you before I gotta let you go is, the film’s coming out next week and you know, I feel like there’s so much content out there, right? There’s always stuff coming out on streaming, there’s something new every day. I know I had you pitch one of your movies to me earlier, but could you give one last pitch for Meet Cute to anybody who doesn’t know what it is?

Lehmann: I would say, if you like rom-coms, you should definitely watch this. If you’re not feeling so sure that you like rom-coms, you should definitely watch this. It’s a more honest version of a rom-com and it’s funny. Who doesn’t wanna go on a date with Pete and Kaley?


Meet Cute will be available to stream on Peacock on September 21. 

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Petr Jákl Talks About Medieval, Casting Michael Caine and Having the Film in the Can for Four Years | Interview

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Films set in the medieval era feel like a lost art. Sure, I guess the House of the Dragon could quench that thirst, but historical films set in The Middle Ages feel like such a rarity. Luckily, Petr Jákl’s film which also happens to be the most expensive film in Czech history, Medieval, is here to buck the trend with a gritty and gruesome historical epic. Featuring an all-star cast with the likes of Ben Foster, Matthew Goode and the legendary Micahel Caine, Medieval is a fascinating watch and released in theaters this past weekend.

In this interview, I spoke with Jákl about the challenges of making a historical epic, the casting process and securing Michael Caine.


Coastal House Media: Hi, it’s a pleasure to meet you! How’s your day going so far?

Petr Jákl: Hi, good, good. I’m in Prague, where are you?

CHM: I’m in Pennsylvania, so quite a ways away. But congratulations on Medieval, I really love any sort of film in this kind of time period and it’s amazing. I want to talk to you about setting a film in that time period. What kind of goes into recreating that time period and were there any specific challenges with doing that?

Jákl: One of the biggest challenges always [is] to find perfect locations for this kind of movie, but luckily in the Czech Republic, we’ve got a lot of castles, a lot of beautiful nature [and] downtown Prague is pretty similar to those times. Of course, you have to replace some commercial signs [or stuff] like that and we also have over 600 VFX shots. We have Charles Bridge, which is the most famous bridge in Prague — every tourist wants to go there and take pictures — so we recreated it to make it look [like it’s] from [the] 15th century.

Overall, it was not that difficult. If we were shooting somewhere else, like in the U.S., it would cost five times more to make it look this big, you know?

CHM: If you’re shooting around a kind of historical bridge or a castle, how delicate do you have to be with your production?

Jákl: Yeah, you have to be very delicate and you cannot do everything. [There are] some rules [and] they can tell you, “You cannot replace this window,” “You cannot touch that,” “You cannot touch the walls,” “You cannot use fire,” many things [that] you cannot do, but you always find a way to do what you need — and that’s great. It’s always about talking to the people who take care of the castle and [they] don’t want [you] to destroy anything, but, for example, you can create your own throne, which is what we did for the movie.

CHM: I think I read that the filming finished in 2018, is that correct?

Jákl: Yes.

CHM: To put that into perspective, your film wrapped when I was a freshman in college and I’ve since graduated. So that’s a long period of time but can I ask you why there was such a long delay and how does it feel for you now to finally have the film come out nearly four years later? Is there any relief or are you just ready to get it out there at this point?

Jákl: I already have [had it] ready two years ago, but there was [the] pandemic, you know? And you couldn’t do anything, you couldn’t release it theatrically. This film was made for theaters so it was frustrating. But on the other side, I’m actually glad that it happened because we are close to the war in Ukraine and they are fighting for freedom in the war. Suddenly we all see [that] there could be a war in these days close to us, which is very scary. And Medieval is [about] fighting for freedom and about hope, [which is a] big element of the movie. I think this is absolutely [the] perfect time for people to watch this movie and to remember what was happening before, what is happening now and what is going to be happening again because it comes in circles.

CHM: You have such a loaded cast in your film ranging from Michael Caine to Matthew Goode among many others. Do you remember who the first person was that you got on board with the film? And then do you also remember who was maybe the hardest actor to secure?

Jákl: The hardest part was securing the lead because everybody told me, “You have to secure the lead first and then you can hire the others. Otherwise if you have another supporting actor who is famous, he will first ask you, ‘Who is the lead?'” and if you don’t have the answer, it doesn’t make sense to approach it. So I was trying to get Ben Foster, and that was the toughest call [but] once I got him and he said, “Yes,” then I said, “Okay, now I want to try Michael Caine.”

A still from Medieval. Photo courtesy of Biocop.

And they told me, “It doesn’t make sense — he’s not gonna do it. It’s not going to happen.” I produced it with Cassian Elwes, who has done many movies and he’s British and he told me, “Hey, Petr, I’ve done over a hundred movies and I always wanted to do a movie with Michael Caine [but] it never happened. And then I said, “Okay, let’s try,” [and] he said, “Yeah, you can try it,” and then [I] tried. Michael Caine called me [at] my cottage [from an] unknown number and he [said], “Hello, it’s Michael Caine here. You’ve got a lovely script, I wanna do it,” and I was like, “Oh my God,” and this producer called me and he sent me a picture [from] when he was 13 and Michael Caine is next to him when they were in Great Britain and he said, “It took me 50 years to make my dream [a] reality. And I didn’t believe that it could happen with you, a guy from Eastern Europe. ” Once we had Michael Caine it was very simple because everybody wanted to be in a movie with Michael Caine. Til Schweiger, he’s [a] German star, said, “Oh my God, sure! I wanna be in this movie.”

CHM: You’re met of many hats, you’ve done everything from acting to stunts to producing and directing. Do you have a favorite of those and then kind of an extra question on that: Did any of the three outside of directing, prep you for directing?

Jákl: I love directing the most, but I also love producing and writing. [Directing is] something [where] I feel I know what I’m doing and it’s just like all [of the] things come together in my head and I know why I’m doing this.

I was prepping the most for, uh, video because that was like, you know, the biggest movie [I’ve done] and I wanted to make sure that it was gonna be done as I wanted. But once we got to the set, many things were different. Actors couldn’t train with stunt men, so some fights were not rehearsed and I couldn’t do them as I wanted. So I had to create some other things like smoke, which actually made it better in the end. So something [that] wasn’t exactly as I wanted was better in the end because of that, you know?

CHM: Can you give me an elevator pitch for your film for someone who has no idea what this is about and they’re trying to decide what to see in theaters?

Jákl: It’s a movie about the most famous Czech hero who is one of seven [that is] undefeated generals of all time in history. There is also a strong love story, and it’s [about] fighting for freedom, people helping each other and coming together and I hope that by the end of the film, people will see the hope of the future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LwGVKbje38

Medieval will be released in theaters on September 9.

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