Scott Stewart Talks Priest
SS: So the end of that story is I went to the studio and said, "If I could do it for this number, can we do it?" And they said, "Well, we actually have no idea how'd you do it for that tiny fraction of the original multi-million dollar number it came out to be, but if you can, great." He started working on the designs of the characters and I liked the direction he was going in [Americanizing his love of anime]; we talked about a watercolor style background and we just wanted to be very tactile, almost like a storybook (I think most of it was com'd in After Effects). And it was all done in California. Yet it's quite violent. He started with my boardomatic and then he did his pass and reconceived it and we made further adjustments. I had Alan Dale, who's in the film, record the voice-over. And it was a terrific collaboration. All along, the studio wasn't sure if this was going to work or be appealing. Was the animation going to be too graphic and too simple? And when it was done, they thought it was awesome, and we showed it to audiences, and people were real excited about it and that didn't surprise me at all.
BD: It's interesting that you could get away with more blood and gore than in the actual movie.
SS: Yeah, interestingly enough, even though we're a PG-13 movie, the MPAA just went: "Oh, it's animated -- no worries!" Which was so funny because they actually had huge problems with stuff that's less graphic and violent in the live-action movie. They made us turn our blood black or brown, for the most part, in the movie itself.
SS: I wanted to shoot anamorphic -- Don Burgess was my camera man and is a real legend, shooting Spider-Man and Forrest Gump. We knew it was a landscape movie -- it was influenced by Bad Day at Black Rock and Ford and Leone and other things. And we wanted to make a widescreen movie, so we talked a lot about 3-D and we wanted to shoot film, we wanted to have that look and use those lenses primarily from the '70s, which have a lot of aberration that they've tried to engineer out of those lenses. We knew what we could get photographically in a 2-D version and, if given enough time, we could make a very compelling 3-D version of the movie [in post]. It's very important to Sony, so once they saw an early cut of the movie, we moved forward with stereoscopic conversion and they gave us about eight more months and an early summer release. Several months and a number of vendors and some very talented stereographers, like Rob Engle and Bruce Jones, and I think they did a remarkable job. We wanted the film like a window into a world, so the movie's quite deep, and it's about looking at the vastness of the desert, the dystopian city.
BD: How's The Mortal Instruments going?
SS: It's going well. It's quite different from what I've done in the past: it's based on a very popular young girls' book series [by Cassandra Clare]. It's a bit Harry Potter, a bit Twilight: a female protagonist [Lily Collins], a seemingly ordinary girl in New York, who discovers she has some extraordinary powers, and there's a city within the city filled with creatures (if you look at that dilapidated church, you can see that it's really a gleaming, gothic cathedral) There's a lot of music and this is a lot breezier than Priest, a lot more comedy and romance with still plenty of action. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.