Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Iron Man News Blow Out

First Variety has finally got the news that Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to do Iron Man 2, 3 and is set to star in the Avengers Movie, also Marvel confirmed that Don Cheadle will replace Terrence Howard as Col. James Rhodes in the "Iron Man" sequels. Cheadle will also appear in "The Avengers."

While over at AICN they got to sit down and have a good old chin wag with Jon Favreau about Iron Man 2 among others things, here's some interesting stuff from part one of the interview:

Quint: You were talking about IMAX earlier and I guess we should probably talk a little about that since the word buzzing around the internet is that you’re looking at doing something similar to what Christopher Nolan did for THE DARK KNIGHT on IRON MAN 2…

Jon Favreau: Yeah, I loved watching DARK KNIGHT in the IMAX format. It’s the first time I saw a movie in that format that wasn’t made just for IMAX. And a lot of it I think was very, I think it was very effective. The difficulty with our film is that our main character is CG a lot of the time. And when you start shooting in IMAX format… it’s a bit unwieldy on the set first of all and second of all, I’m not convinced yet that CGI is going to look…I’m more of a believer now after the experience on IRON MAN, but it was very painstaking to integrate him effectively and not have it be distracting.

And I think that IMAX, I’m warned, costs a lot more, it’s a lot harder to render because of the resolution and I’m not sure at that resolution CGI is convincing yet. So, there are a lot of drawbacks, but in meeting with them the blowups to IMAX format are as effective in many ways, so we’ll see where we land on it, but I doubt that we’re actually going to have IMAX cameras on the set. It becomes very difficult for processing and all of that.

I think it works well for DARK KNIGHT because a lot of that was just practical shots and helicopter shots or shots where there’s CGI in the background, set extensions things like that. But you didn’t have a CGI Batman running through the frame all the time.

Quint: But you saw AVATAR, or you saw some pieces, so will that be the game-changer you think?

Jon Favreau: Look, I went and saw a digital 3-D projection of BEOWULF when that first came out. And that’s one of those films where in 3-D…I don’t know if I would recommend the film on its own merits, but in the a CG environment I was recommending it to people because the experience was so different it was so dream-like in the way that you perceive it and I think it hits you it hits your brain in a different way. It makes the experience a different experience, it feels more like a dream than a movie, and I thought it was extremely effective in that.

And in watching the way that James Cameron is approaching AVATAR… he’s really pushing the boundaries on motion capture, he’s integrating live action with motion capture and CGI. It takes a painstaking and technical approach to that. And he really wants to make it a very visceral, emotional experience and he’s… he’s a bit of a P.T. Barnum in the sense that he likes to put on a big show.

He’s sort of tireless in how much he invests into it as far as his time and effort. You know, he doesn’t make a lot of movies, so a lot of thought and effort goes into each one. And I think that he’s trying to present this format in a way where it is a game-changer and in seeing it I think it’s the future. I don’t think it’s a flash in the pan. I think it’s going to open up a whole new door and I think more so than the glasses it becomes about how many screens could actually present it in its pristine form.

The amount of screens is just growing at a very, very fast rate in the states and I think in Europe as well and I think AVATAR is going to be the kind of movie that’s an event that you have to go see and you want to see again just to understand what you’re looking at. And then you still have his very effective storytelling. He really creates an adventure and draws you into it in the hero’s journey sense of storytelling, the Joseph Campbell sense of storytelling. I really liked the bits that I saw and I saw all the various stages of finished, but he’s a purist in the way he approaches things, and he’s very meticulous.

And a lot of what he’s using we’re exploring using similar techniques in IRON MAN 2 because it is a game-changer from a production standpoint certainly in the way he’s using motion capture and operating a camera within a volume and the way that the pipeline works now is… the line between animation and live action is blurring in many ways and I think that we could borrow a lot from what people have learned through animation as far as making a movie and not just storyboard, animatic, pre-viz, shoot plates, cut it together with post-viz, deliver it to the vendor and then hope you get the shot there in time for the movie’s release.

And you’re crossing your fingers all the way till the sound mix. The way that Jim’s doing it, it’s a much more organic process where post-production, production, and pre-production all sort of roll into one another and you’re moving back and forth between those media.

Quint: Interesting.

Jon Favreau: You’re moving back and forth as far as what media you’re creating. You really value mentors and people you can learn from when you’re in my line of work. Because everybody’s breaking new ground and there aren’t that many people who are at the top of their field. Fortunately people like Jim are very generous with their time and with wanting to share what they’ve discovered with other filmmakers, so I learned a great deal about motion capture, a great deal about cgi, a great deal about 3-d and digital photography, from spending some time with him. And I also have learned a lot just from watching his movies. So I’m glad he does what he does and I’m glad that he’s been so generous with his time and knowledge.

Quint: (laughs) That’s crazy. Well, where are you right now with IRON MAN 2?

Jon Favreau: Justin (Theroux)’s almost done with the first draft of the script. And we’re boarding and been creating animatics for the action sequences. We’re starting to do some location scouting and designing some sets and figuring out how much of it we want to… you know, what techniques we’re going to use. And the best is to mix and match the best of everything. I’m less of a purist to one style or another. I find that you got to make, you have to use the technique that best tells the story for any given moment and also that makes… that isn’t irresponsible with resources because even with a big movie like IRON MAN 2 you have to pay attention to every dollar you spend.

Quint: Yeah and well you got to make sure it’s up on the screen too. You don’t have the luxury coming off of a popular first movie of under-delivering on the sequel.

Jon Favreau: I think that I could borrow a lot from…I think a lot too many decisions were made at the end of the process, we work on this thing for two years but we don’t really lock in on the performances, at least as far as the CGI goes, till the very, very end of the process and you’re bottle necked with your sound mix, your scoring, youre final editing, and youre color timing. And so I found myself up at Skywalker Ranch making millions of decisions and not always feeling confident that I was having the clarity on any given one.

And what I’m learning, what I’m trying to incorporate is more of a, certainly for the action sequences, create a pipeline that’s more similar to a CGI film like a Pixar film or even like AVATAR. Where you can work on and refine the action stuff before you even begin shooting, and let the action and the performances be serviced by the plates and not back into a performance by the plates that you’ve shot. And so I was very, very lucky to have gotten somebody to collaborate with me on that stuff and teach me a little bit more of the animation approach to action.

I had Genndy Tartakovsky. I’ve always liked SAMURAI JACK and I loved his CLONE WARS vignettes that he did. I’ve always liked his work, a lot. And I had met with him, we had lunch together just because I enjoy his stuff and I wanted to meet him. I really dig his sense of humor and his sense of rhythm, and the way that he acknowledges the same cinematic masters that I really love the work of, like (Akira) Kurosawa and (Sergio) Leone. And he finds a way to pastiche it without ever undermining the stakes or the reality of the tension that’s created in his action sequences.

Now clearly his stuff is a bit broad for a live action film but I love his rhythm and his attention to detail. It has a real comic booky feel but yet it feels cinematic and not gimmicky and even his cartoons feel… there’s an elegance to them.

So in this process as we’re storyboarding and designing sequences he and his team have come in and I’m working with them and they’re working on collaborating with us on the project and that’s a new wrinkle and it allows me… I feel like I’m really learning a lot from collaborating with this guy.

And then he has the original IRON MAN film to draw from and he also has a pretty deep knowledge of Marvel. So, he is transitioning into live-action features, which I have no doubt in collaborating with him that he will. There’s a transition that he’s making that hopefully I could be helpful with and at the same time as I move from dialogue and character and story-driven filmmaking I’m able to understand the way to approach action in an interesting and elegant way. So, it’s been a very, very fun collaboration so far.