During the crazy four-day period known as Comic-Con, I was able to attend the press conference for the new action movie Gamer. The movie is about the evolution of video games, where players control people in a Call of Duty-esque game. Gamer was written and directed by Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine, the two guys behind the insanely intense movies Crank and Crank 2.
Actor Terry Crews, was also a part of the press conference, and gave his two cents on the Gamer filming experience. Based on the interview, this movie is guaranteed to be intense, violent, and action-packed. It’s basically everything you could ever want in an action flick!
Check out what they had to say after the jump!
During the press conference, they talked about the new camera they filmed with, the action sequences and why they didn’t use green screens for the film. They also discussed their inspiration for the movie, and their thoughts on video games being adapted into feature films. And by the way, if you can’t tell from the picture above, we got tickets to the gun show. Oh yeah!
You used a new technology while filming this movie. Can you talk more about the RED camera?
MN: It is an awesome little machine. It is a fourcade camera, so the resolution is incredible. We tested it with 35mm, shooting with our crazy high shutter style and we thought it looked much better than with 35mm. It blew us away. Because it is so light, we were able to hop on our rollerblades, hang out of helicopters and do all the crazy stuff that we do. We felt a little bit safer because the camera is only about 18lbs with the lens and matbox as opposed to the 60lbs cameras we are used to.
BT: With the traditional HD camera, that we shot the first Crank movie with, there is a cable that leads from the camera to a lot of machinery, like a digital imaging tech center; so for the shooting that we like to do, it is not really practical. It takes a lot of work to move the rig around at the speed that we like to move it. The RED camera uses compact flash cards, like the ones used in a still camera. You can pull one out and put another one in. We had 200 compact flash cards and we were rotating throughout the shoot. You could just grab that camera and just run with it; we could shoot in a really free style, but with an image that we thought exceeded 35mm. We think it is amazing. We basically beta tested the camera on our movie. This is basically the first big movie shot with that camera. We had one of the first prototypes. A lot of what happened on this set went into building the next generation of the RED camera.
What was it like working with the RED camera?
MN: The compact flash cards were 8GB so it gave us a little over 4 minutes. When we finished a card, we immediately backed it up; we had a Mac on set.
BT: They told us that we could go even higher to 16GB, but you don’t really want anymore than 8GB because it takes a long time to dump onto the computer. We didn’t even need a technician. It was so easy to use. We had a guy with a laptop.
TC: We got to see it right away. It was beautiful.
I read that much of the movie was shot at real locations and not on a green screen. Can you tell us about why you did that?
BT: It is funny because it is a video game, but it is not a video game. The characters that are being controlled are real people in real environments. We didn’t want to create a virtual, fake CG world. It didn’t really make sense. The whole idea is that you are controlling real human beings, so we wanted use real locations as much as we could.
MN: We love to blow shit up; it is our favorite thing in the world. It is fairly inexpensive. To do it onset will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a little dangerous, but it is fun.
BT: If you have ever been to Albuquerque, the first thing you want to do is blow it up and reduce it to a pile of smoke and rubble. Which is what we did.
Terry, what was it like working with these directors? Did you go into this process with any expectations?
TC: Coming from a lot of comedy, I really wanted to kill the guy from White Chicks. These were just the guys to do it. I love their work because they give people what they want. I was like, “Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do it.”
MN: We thought they wanted Terry Crews naked, so that’s what we gave them.
TC: I am a big fan of violence. When I saw these guys put a guy on a bike, put him in the air, shoot him, and then blow him up I knew I was in the right movie.
BT: We are big fans of the double kill. You can’t just kill a guy once.
TC: It was an awesome experience, but it was hard work. They pushed me to a whole new level. It is not “movie fire,” it is real fire. I felt better as an actor and moving into the action genre. These guys are the best and I think the end result will speak for itself.
BT: One thing you should know about Terry when you see the movie, (people exaggerate this kind of stuff), but every stunt that you see Terry do, he did it. He did it without a wire, and he put himself at risk. He killed it. He did some stuff that is superhuman. He volunteered to do it and he did it until we got the shot right.
TC: Everybody was pushing it to another level.
Terry, this is your first year at Comic-Con. What are your plans while you are at the convention?
TC: I really want to see what this is about. I am just excited and this is a really refreshing thing. It is good to get out of the LA scene. It is a good group of people to be around and push the envelope in different ways. I think a lot of ideas come out of this thing, so I am hoping to get a few ideas of characters I would like to play in the future.
What video games do you play?
BT: Donkey Kong
MN: Pac-Man. I think the last game I was addicted to was Duck Hunt on Nintendo. We are not big gamers. We played GTA because we were going write it, and I was addicted to that for a few weeks.
Where did you draw your inspiration for the movie?
MN: We were reading about the end of the world and singularity. We also do movies that are fun and ridiculous. We decided to do a movie about a live video game. People are so involved in these realities and playing video games 24/7. People also love watching UFC fights, so we just packed that all into one. If given the chance, would you control another human being? I think a lot of people would. We just put our “Crank” pace all over that.
BT: Our favorite science fiction movies are the ones from the 70s and 80s where there are issues involved. There is some sort of a social framework for it. We wanted to do a throwback to those kinds of movies and you say something about where you are going. There is a central character that was in this case it is Gerard’s character, who is sort of the one man, in the midst of all of it, trying to fight against it.
Did you have any games in mind when you were writing the movie?
MN: We had done a lot of research. We got on Second Life and created our own avatars and really got involved in that.
BT: There are two games in the movie. One of them is a type of social networking game; it is very similar to The Sims or Second Life. That is the game that Amber Valleta is controlled in. It has real people and you are making them, dressing them, putting them into an apartment, and having them dance, hook up, etc. The other game is a combat orientated game that is more like Call of Duty. That is the game that Terry and Gerard [Butler] are embroiled in. There are definitely some similarities to real games.
Did you consult with anybody before making this movie?
BT: We had a couple of sixteen-year-old kids who told us everything we needed to know.
Do you ever encounter any creative differences?
MN: We work so fast that if I feel really strongly about something, Brian agrees to just go try it and see if it works or doesn’t work. We spent so much time getting the project to take shape and talking about it forever. Then we write the treatment, then the outline, and then the movie; we are kind of on the same page. We just don’t have disagreements, maybe what type of shot to do after work. It is like a football huddle for us. We really believe that we are collaborating.
In the movie, who populates the social networking game?
MN: It is actors or people who need to make money. You can control or be controlled.
BT: You can pay to control or paid to be controlled. It is a dark place but it has a candy-coated exterior. The avatars in the game could be compared to the people in the adult industry. They are there voluntarily, but they may not want to be there or they are there as a result of not having many choices in their life.
Were the action sequences more thought out than on your previous films?
BT: We didn’t get to work at the speed we like to move. On Crank 2 we shot 300 hours of footage in 30 days; it was absurd how fast we went. This was a more elaborate movie. We had battle scenes with 200 people and just crazy stuff. There are certain things that you just can’t rush because you will kill people. We had to slow down because of the elaborate things we wanted to do. In terms of the energy and the way we worked with the actors, there still was not a lot of waiting around.
TC: Considering the nature of the material, it helped that you jumped in. You wanted it to feel natural. These guys really contributed to that climate. You jump in and go. If it doesn’t work, then try it again in another way.
MN: That danger, spontaneity, and energy really helped. We all get fired up and do it.
BT: That stuff looks dangerous because it really was. That is the way we have always shot. We don’t want to rely on the CG to make it seem dangerous. We want to put ourselves, our actors, and the camera in peril because we think that is going to translate onto the screen.
TC: Those bombs were going off and shrapnel was falling. There is just no faking it.
What are your thoughts on video games and comic books turning into movies?
MN: There has got to be a story.
BT: I mean, they are going to make an Asteroids movie. Asteroids! On the face of it, it doesn’t really make any sense. It is really going to come down to good stories and good filmmakers making a good movie in whatever inspiration they find.
Would Gamer ever be turned into an actual video game?
MN: Yeah, a lot of people have talked about it. I don’t know. It could happen down the road. It is nothing that we are behind and trying to push. If it happens then I will just give them the address to send a check. If people ask for it, yeah we’ll do it.
BT: Making a game is a big deal; it is kind of like making a movie. Is it going to happen? We don’t know.
Gamer hits theaters on September 4th.
Check out the trailer…