Comic Con: Visionaries panel with Edgar Wright, Alfonso Cuaron, and Marc Webb!
Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries panel kicked off in legendary Hall H, featuring a discussion with filmmakers Edgar Wright (THE WORLD’S END), ALFONSO CUARON (GRAVITY), and Marc Webb (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2). The three directors talked about their latest films, their shooting styles, feelings on 3D, long takes, the future of film and much more during the chat, which offered a unique glimpse into their individual visions as contemporary filmmakers.
“It’s usually us taking something that’s happening in our lives and adding maximum devastation” said Edgar Wright about how he chose the themes for the Cornetto trilogy, which he completes next month with THE WORLD’S END. For Alfonso Cuaron, who releases GRAVITY in October it was a complicated affair. “The whole film was a big miscalculation,” the director said about the film, but he was focused on the idea of “one single human floating in space, completely alone…the idea of doing that character and turning it into a suspenseful action film.”
For THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 director Marc Webb it was about the grounded characters, like Peter Parker, living an average day-to-day life, but having to “fight gods” at the same time. When asked how Peter Parker would be challenged with the villain this time out, Webb said, “I think, weirdly, the most important one is to empathize with those you don’t want to empathize with,” which makes sense in terms of the nerdy scientist gone bad, as that easily could be Parker at any time.
Talking about what he brought new to THE WORLD’S END in terms of his style, Wright said “I wanted to try and do them [action scenes] without cutting, so you believe that the actors are doing it, cause they’re doing it.” The discussion turned to the “long take” shots, which both Wright and Cuaron have both done, but certainly that Cuaron has perfected, prompting Webb to say “You’re the king of the long take.”
In terms of what films influenced their latest offerings, each director had a varied, but fitting selection. For Cuaraon it was Steven Spielberg’s DUEL that influenced GRAVITY, while Wright listed VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and old Doctor Who episodes as the force behind THE WORLD’S END. As for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2? Webb said OPERATION: DUMBO DROP in terms of logistics alone.
When asked about their mentors, each filmmaker had a different experience, but each being profound and influential. For Webb, it was amateur filmmaker Doug Pray, “a brilliant editor” who helped him learn the craft, while Cuaron experienced a number of mentors as he moved through his career, working as a boom operator and then an AD. Cuaron said that “having mentors keeps the ball rolling” and that a significant early mentor was the late Sidney Pollack, who taught Cauron to “give a hand” to the next generation as a means of paying it forward to future filmmakers.
For Wright, the influence came from two sources: his high school drama teacher who encouraged him to pursue filmmaking and director Sam Raimi, whom he says “completely blew my mind” when he discovered that the director made THE EVIL DEAD at the age of 18, which inspired him to do the same and continue his pursuit of being a director and showed him that you can come from anywhere to be a filmmaker, rather than the notion of “Steven Spielberg [being] dropped off by a stork to Universal Studios.”
The filmmakers were asked about their feelings on the future of the industry after the recent comments made by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who believe that tentpole pics will take precedence in theaters, leaving small indie films to the VOD market. “It’s very difficult to make a 15 million dollar drama. It’s almost impossible,” said Webb, but also felt that “it’s a great time to be a young filmmaker because you have access to equipment that you never would have had before.”
“I think it’s just going to be a choice, I mean, because there’s a place for everything and, like, I think there is, like, an appetite for, like, original films as well as the kind of the franchise and series, y’know, and sometimes it just comes down to the season,” said Wright, who also made the point that,”there’s got to be a balance otherwise if you don’t start, y’know, doing more original films there’ll be nothing to remake in 30 years time,” which brought on a lot of applause. Ultimately, Wright feels that “there’s more ways for people to get their work out there than ever before,” especially when compared to when he started out.
When posed with their thoughts about the 3D format, each director had a similar, but varied take on it. For Cuaron and Webb, there’s a vested interest as both of their upcoming films are in 3D, while Wright was quick to point out that THE WORLD’S END is “in fabulous 2D kids!” which again prompted applause. However, Wright, like Cuaron and Webb, feel that it can work when done well and for a film that benefits from the format. “In the case of GRAVITY I prefer 3D because it’s designed like that,” said Cuaron, who feels “3D is a tool, it’s a fantastic tool, but it doesn’t have to be universalized, it needs to have a reason.”
Webb, who shot THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 in anamorphic as opposed to 3D, which is how he filmed the first film, and feels that it’s an “incredible format” that can be “exquisite” or “terrible.” Ultimately, he feels “the delivery of 3D is volatile…and you only have so much control over that as a filmmaker.” For Wright, it often feels like an “extra two dollars on the ticket” instead of being something worthwhile.
As for their future projects, Wright stayed on the topic of 3D, jokingly (?) saying,”Well, I’m going to be doing Ant-Man in 3D. I’m making this movie for Marvel next and, y’know, people ask me ‘why did it take so long?’ and…my new answer is ‘I wanted to do it with 2015 effects and not 2005 effects.’” For Webb, his future is simple. “I want to finish The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” he said, but continued that “There’s more Spider-Man universe to speak of, certainly,” but he said he’d also like to do some musicals and a “physical comedy” thing he’s also developing.
Wright said he’d “definitely like to work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost again,” but said that people should be happy that they delivered on the promise of three films in The Cornetto Trilogy for now. As for Cuaron, the director said, “I would like to do a horror movie,” which gave just about everyone awesome chills. A Cauron horror film? Yes, please.