INT: U2 3D director

Film enthusiasts, thrill seekers, sports fanatics and music lovers should get prepared for the next generation of 3D technology. If what U23D’s co-director Catherine Owens says is true, theatre and home entertainment experiences will advance to a whole new mind-blowing experience. The premiere of U23D was such a climactic and thrilling film experience, it left me speechless (read my full review HERE). If the experience of a concert film can become such an adrenaline rush, picture what it will do for sports, drama, adventure and horror films. The advanced technology of 3eality may leave men chanting, women crying and begging for commercial breaks.

Additionally, if Samsung does develop a new TV with a 3D chip, men will never leave their homes again. Either way, the technology has arrived and U2’s concert is the guinea pig. Based on all the positive reaction, 3D vision will likely explode and catapult filmmaking to an out-of-this-world phenomenon. I was enlivened with the 55-minute version of U23D and anticipate the full 92 minutes to be even more stimulating. I hadn’t had a more invigorating theatre experience before. Director Owens sat down with us at the American Pavilion in Cannes to enlighten us on the challenges of making a 3D concert film, her long-standing relationship with U2, the conception of this new film and projections for the future. Check out what the friendly director had to say.

Catherine Owens

How did the premiere go last night for you and the band?

It was fantastic. It was mad. It was really great. We really didn’t know what to expect in terms of going out there with a brand new product. It’s tough to determine how people are going to react and the reaction was so amazing.

Did everyone in the theatre wear the 3D glasses?

Yeah. They are kind of like sunglasses but after a while, you completely forgot you had them on. You just weren’t even aware and then when it got to the end, you didn’t really want to take the glasses off. You were like “Oh, no there must be some more.” In LA where we’re editing, they are developing the 3D product all the time. I’ve seen thousands of 3D screens without glasses so it’s not going to be too long before the home market has that kind of development.

How did this idea for a 3D film project come about?

The company who is producing this, called 3ality Digital one of the partners came to me in 2004, Pete Shapiro and knew my work with the band as a digital content provider. They had been developing this technology with sporting partners Model’s for the sports world. You can imagine it’s going to be totally sports world friendly and eventually for live broadcast of sports. So they will be able to broadcast in 3D live. So while we were waiting around for the NFL to say yes, we wanted to bring it to our side. I thought it sounded like something we might like so we decided to do a test. We took one camera to Anaheim in the beginning of the U2 tour and made a really nice little piece the band thought that this could definitely be something for them. Bono was so funny when he first saw the glasses because he said, “Hmm, fly shades – these could be my glasses.” Eventually when the film comes out, he will be sitting there with his glasses on.

Was Bono happy with the outcome of the film?

He was very happy. He really feels the technology is totally amazing. He was very involved from the beginning. His feeling was that this could be the medium to bring their concerts to countries that can’t see it.

The concert I attended during their last tour had many more songs. How did you pick and choose only certain songs for the film?

Yes, yes. What show did you go to?

I attended their concert in Toronto, Canada.

Oh ok, ok. What we did is we shot altogether 24 songs. Some of those they would have done every night of seven nights, some of them only one night, most of them at lest twice. So we had a couple of different factors because they usually play 22 songs and they would mix those up. There’s a core that would be the same so we would use those core sets. Then we would eliminate based on what we got for the trial.

As a filmmaker, did you instruct or direct the band in front of the camera?

In a way, we sort of did the opposite. I’m not a huge believer in telling people what to do. In this situation, we didn’t want to gimmick 3D. I didn’t want to do that. There’s fine line and they are so eager to perform that we didn’t want to go overboard. So, we all agreed that we would try to document the live performance as they normally perform. Bono was aware of everything so he knows how to get a good moment but he really played down going to that sort of gimmicky world.

We wanted to create case of making 3D work for the film so that filmmakers could come along who would normally never consider 3D and think that there’s something here for me. I don’t have to be making a child’s movie, it doesn’t have to be animated, but can be for narrative and landscape based if you’re a film maker who works with space and light maybe you would b=never think about working in 3D but this film might make you think oh ok maybe I can build something with this kind of layer. We really developed the layering message.

Was this only a showcase or will this be shown in cinema with only 55 minutes?

No, 55 minutes is the short version. It will be 92 minutes but because we had an opportunity to present the technology in Cannes and we really wanted to have the technology in the minds of people before the film was finished because it’s very hard to begin when the film is finished for people to trust and believe in us. Therefore, we really wanted to show the technology and what we were doing. We’re excited; the future of film could be excited and hope we can play it safe.

Will this be distributed into cinemas without the 3D?

No, it’s not going to go to 2D. It’s a 3D project only. That was another decision we made because people were thinking that it if it wasn’t 2D they wouldn’t get to see it. We decide that if we’re going to do 3D it’s going to be completely 3D into the future. U2 is not doing this for profit reasons. They are completely doing this because they want to be on the forefront of what they think is the future of film technology. The film is finance by 3ality and there will be DVD releases which will only be available in 3D so people will need to see it with glasses. Right now everyone can see it on their TV with a converter box using 3D glasses but Samsung is currently putting a 3D chip into their TV’s but I’m not sure what stage that’s at and I’ve seen it in plasma screens in 3D with no glasses. So, they are developing that technology right now. It is going to be unbelievable when it goes into 3D. It’s not going to be too long before it happens and then it can move into the video world.

Was the band nervous at all while being filmed specifically for this film?

Even though they’ve done a lot of DVD’s and documentaries of their concerts, the direction that I gave them was to take this very tight relationship between the band members and make it on a huger scale. So I wanted to reassure the relationship within the band and then the extension of that was the audience and let that be the only concept. They have a very strong relationship. They have their own language on stage and so the only direction was that they should be a little more conscious of their own language between the groups, which they already had on stage. Some of the other cuts you will see in the final film are really incredible. There are moments between them that are very physical and tender. They are 4 people together for so long, who are like family – you want to kill them, you love them – so there is that kind of tenderness between them.

What is your relationship with them?

From my point of view as an artist, they are conceptual thinkers, they think and perform visually. So, our relationship is really based on my ability to kind of facilitate that pride of who they are to a greater degree and really, this film will be sort of like the rounding off of that relationship in a way where we’ve managed to develop this language. They have a language, I understand that language, they know my abilities and together we sort of just said ‘how can we make this other thing work for us and perhaps then forge a new language for film.”

How did you meet U2 other than you all being Irish?

When we were about 18, I played bass guitar in a band and the bass guitar player of U2 and I knew each other based on playing bass guitar. We were from a very small town so at that time we would always go to each other’s gigs. Then I went to Art College and they would come and visit me in at college when they would play in North Ireland. They are all very interested in art and all have a keen understanding of the visual form.

Are you still amazed at how far you’ve all come along?

Yes. On the red carpet last night, it felt mad and fantastic but it still feels the same. It‘s the same drive as we’ve always had. We were talking about this film last night and all of our journeys to this point, and Bono said to me “ we’ve got to make a deal out here. This could be the beginning of the exciting stuff.” So it’s that mentality. Every door that opens is an opportunity for the next door and I think that’s how they feel.

Did you use a regular video camera to film a 3D film like this?

No, it’s very, very complicated. You are working with two cameras and they are a full right eye and left eye. We used five people on each camera. The director of photography for 3D is working all the time to make sure the conversion points were with both eyes at the same time. Everytime the focus changes on one camera, the focus needs to change on the other as well. Sometimes one eye would be out of focus. We would have to go back and try to repair the shot that was not in proper focus while the other eye had an incredible moment.

Was the decision to shoot in South America a deliberate one?

It was a very definite decision to shoot in South America. Bono felt that the South American audience had a passion that matched his Irish passion. They felt they would get a result that they wouldn’t get in other places. As an actor Bono was looking at the whole stage including the audience, the camera, band.

Do you think someone else could have made a different 3D film if it weren’t for your relationship with them?

Someone else could have made a different 3D film but I don’t know whether they would have been able to get them to this point with as much ease as I’ve been able to go to because of the trust. When you are working with technology, the whole thing can crap out and fall apart. So to get it to this point, we were very happy.

Source: JoBlo.com



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