A series of panel sessions at the Los Angeles Film Festival featured conversations with A-list directors, actors and writers. Here are some of the highlights with news on 30 Minutes or Less, The Gangster Squad, Captain America and HBO’s upcoming series Luck.
Screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus on Captain America.
Stephen McFeely: It’s very exciting actually. In our case it is 70 years of comics but we without giving much away, we knew what the origin story was and we knew because there’s a sequel next year called The Avengers, we knew we had to get him into modern day. So we sort of knew act 1 and act 3. Then it’s looking at 70 years of comics, particularly World War II stories because it’s a period piece, and finding what the best combination of events we can steal from previous comics and also what we needed to get done in these 65 minutes that’s going to give him an actual character arc. Marvel’s really collaborative so there’s ups and downs to that. There’s a lot of drafts and a lot of what ifs and a lot of revising, but we knew that going in. We chased it.
Christopher Markus: At the same time, they’re grown ups but they’re all incredibly versed in what is essentially, if you’re not in it, goofy. But it’s great to get phone calls from 40-50-year-old people like, “What if we bring in The Falcon?” It’s literally a man with a falcon suit on.
Stephen McFeely: Assuming a lovely July, we’ll do Captain America 2, if that does well.
Derek Luke on getting to play Gabe Jones in Captain America:
Derek Luke: I love the genre of action. I credit my wife to it because I had a similar action role once and One, we got to make it in the UK. I always felt like if I get paid to be an actor and work internationally, man, I’ve really, really made it. I enjoyed working in the U.K. but also Captain America, it kind of identifies with my boyhood. I would run around, put a towel around my neck, me and my brothers, and we’d fly through the living room. My mom would have to get us for breaking lamps and everything. So I enjoyed it and I hope this coming July you enjoy it as well.
Ruben Fleischer on test screening 30 Minutes or Less:
Ruben Fleischer: “We got lucky that our first screening went really well and then every successive screening went down. We couldn’t figure out why it was and so we started chasing this thing that we weren’t sure and to this day still don’t know, but it basically allowed us all to say, ‘At the end of the day, you’ve got to just trust your gut. You can’t chase the audience and chase trying to figure it out.’ We were making all these changes so that we thought we were going to try and make the movie better, and in the end it didn’t. I think at the end of the day, testing is helpful as a reference and there’s nothing better than playing a movie for an audience, you get to hear especially with a comedy where the laughs are. At the end of the day, you’ve got to just trust your gut and make the changes that you think are the best for the film. As the filmmaker, you know the movie better than anyone else, and put out that version.”
Ruben Fleischer on The Gangster Squad:
Ruben Fleischer: It’s based on a series of articles that were in the L.A. Times. Pretty much all the characters, the main cops and the bad guys were all real people. So we’ve done immense research on all the real people. There’s interviews. The guy who wrote the articles was very intimate with the original members of the Gangster Squad who were alive when he wrote the articles. He’s filled me in a lot and I’ve tried as much as possible to convey that to the actors. We don’t start shooting for three months and they’re already all consuming material. I just sent Josh a World War II soldier’s uniform which his character would have worn, that I found on eBay, just to get him in the mode of having been a soldier, which he actually asked for. I thought it was so cool that he’s in the middle of shooting Men in Black but he’s already started to think about the next movie and the character. We’ve had lengthy, lengthy conversations about who this guy is, what makes him tick and he’s already started really thinking about him.
Philip Noyce on HBO’s Luck:
Philip Noyce: Recently I did a HBO series with Michael Mann written by David Milch called Luck where we used the Alexa camera which is a real breakthrough. I can say after working with that that film unfortunately is dead, because you can do everything on the Alexa camera that you can do on film. It can look exactly like film when it’s projected. We were shooting exterior L.A. streets no lights. It’s become a situation where night shooting is actually quicker than day shooting now with the new cameras. Whereas night shooting you’d say, ‘Oh, you’ll shoot 11 shots at the most.’ Now you can shoot 60. It’s really fast. It was the freest shooting I’ve ever been involved with. Michael Mann has chosen the three operators from experience, so they’re all really inventive. Usually you finish early because the crew are living in terror of Michael turning up on set. So they’re fast like a wild horse that’s been broken in. So they’re director friendly.