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Interview : Christopher Nolan, director of Dunkirk

Drew Turney

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All successful pop filmmakers have a Get Serious™ moment. For Steven Spielberg it was “Schindler’s List”, for James Cameron, “Titanic” and for Bob Zemeckis, “Fligh”t. If asked, most will tell you it’s not about that, it’s about telling great stories, and that “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” means as much to them as “Saving Private Ryan”, or “Piranha Part Two: The Spawning” means as much as “Avatar”. But when you see the glow on their faces as they climb the stairs of the Kodak Theatre on Oscar night, they give it all away and you just know they’ve been dying for that instant, if not vying for it outright.

The Get Serious™ moment is usually a true story of tragedy or injustice – wars are particularly fertile territory – made with the signature motifs and aesthetic that make a given director so distinctive. As such, Chris Nolan might disagree that “Dunkirk” is his Get Serious™ moment, but it fits the above description perfectly (Second World War, his signature motif of playing with the passage of time) and he’s probably not by any means unhappy about all the Academy Awards buzz building.

But when Moviehole.net meets him in LA to talk about scale, casting rock stars and what really constitutes truth on film, he’s no less erudite and excited than he’s been about any of his projects, and it’s plain he looks at “Dunkirk” the same way he once did with “Batman” – as a means to give an audience a carefully crafted and unforgettable experience.

Was giving Harry Styles the role of Alex a way of bringing in young audiences?

I’m sorry, Harry who [laughs]? Our process was that we need young, unknown – ironically – guys at the heart of the film. We don’t want to do 30 year olds playing 19 year olds. We want kids. We want faces people have seen and they’re not going to have any expectations of ‘will they live or will they die’. We arrived at this process of just thousands of auditions, we were going to drama schools, we were looking at people who didn’t have an agency yet, real newcomers. As we started to look at these guys, we saw a lot of talent, a lot of possibilities. We saw Fionn [Whitehead] early on as someone who could play Tommy, but couldn’t find and Alex.

Somewhere in there Harry went on tape and sent it to our casting director. We looked at it and thought it had potential so we said ‘fine, if you want to come along as an unknown, as somebody who’s never done this before and throw yourself into auditions, you’re welcome to.’

And he did and we did days and days of what I call workshop auditions. Kind of an old fashioned technique that I’d never really been able to do before where you get a group of guys and say ‘okay you play Tommy, you play Alex, now let’s swap, you guys go out, bring another group in’. We did that for days and days and Harry earned a seat at the table. He just seemed perfect for the part for me and I’m very excited by what he’s done and really excited for people to see it because I think it’s a really, really difficult performance and a really great one.

Any concerns that his fame as a singer would overshadow not just the role but the whole movie?

He’s famous in one very particular arena. I mean now he’s gone solo and has a new album, but at the time I didn’t know who he was particularly. My kids knew. I knew the name, but I hadn’t really seen him much and that was true of a lot of people my age. I don’t think you can worry as a director. You can’t worry too much about this baggage.

I always come back to when I cast Heath Ledger as the Joker, there were a lot of raised eyebrows, a lot of ‘how’s that going to work?’ But my job is to see potential in people who haven’t done a thing before whether you’re talking about a movie star, or even a first timer or pop star. When I cast David Bowie as Nicola Tesla I saw a thing that can work. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I think his performance is really marvellous and I think people are going to see that.

A lot of your films have been intellectually challenging. What’s your ultimate intention as a director?

My goal is first of all is to entertain. The word ‘entertainment’ is ambiguous. There are a lot of different forms of entertainment and it might seem a little strange applied to a real-life story of conflict and war but I think  what the cinema can do for an audience is give them an invigorating experience they wouldn’t safely be able to experience in their own lives.

Take them some place they would never imagine going, whether that’s science fiction or Dunkirk or whatever. My goal is that at the end of the film, the audience takes a deep breath and thinks, ‘okay, that was an experience’.

Talk about the relationship of the music to the story.

The script was written according to musical principles. I created a sort of geometric approach that was based on a type of musical effect that I’ve used in my other films. David Julyan, who was composer on The Prestige, was the first person that I collaborated with in this way and it’s a thing called a Shepherd Tone. It’s a continually rising tone that never goes out of range. What I did in the script was try to create a narrative equivalent of that where each storyline is compounding in its tension on the other and never finishing. So you’re cycling a series of climaxes.

We always knew the music was going to have to reinforce that, so with Hans Zimmer who did the music on this film, I recorded a watch that has a very insistent ticking. I sent him that recording and said ‘okay, let’s try and build a rhythmical structure, a musical structure on top of that’. As we edited the film we kept layering it in and kept cutting to and seeing how that worked.

So at the end of the process what we wound up with is, for better or for worse, we’ve wound up with a fusion of music and sound and picture that we’ve never been able to do before. Very, very tightly fused together. There are certain sound effects in the film that are literally created by the sound effects guys, given to the music guys to process, given back to the sound effects guys. Sound effects and music have completely intertwined in a way that we’ve never really been able to achieve before. So that was sort of the process.

The perception of time is always such a big part of your movies. Can you talk about how it applies here?

Time in any film is a very interesting tool for filmmakers to use. Even in conventional cinema grammar, there’s a very sophisticated approach to how the filmmaking and the ordering of shots makes the audience feel about time and the time they’re experiencing. Each film is able to create its own unique approach to the audience’s feeling of time, and I’ve tried to use that aggressively in my films as a tool for narrative.

What I wanted to do in this film was tell the story intensely subjectively. That was my goal. It was a very suspenseful, very subjective first person narrative, but I also felt a responsibility to build up a bigger knowledge of the events of Dunkirk. We wanted people to know the bigger movements of the story, so that suggests multiple experiences. In the aerial sequence where a Spitfire pilot would have about an hour’s flying time over Dunkirk, you’re cross cutting that with guys who are on the beach for a week or more.

Those story lines have a very different sense of time. Cinema is able to give the audience that subjective sense of time with each different timeline. So I wanted to create a subjectively told film that never departed from subjectivity but gives people a bigger view of what the events might be without, for example, cutting to generals in rooms with maps. That’s really the purpose and meaning of the structure.

How challenging was that in the writing?

A lot of that work was done at the screenwriting stage and I spent a lot of time drawing diagrams and figuring out the mathematics of it before I actually wrote the script. That helped because I had very sound underpinnings. Yes, it’s challenging, but at the same time if you enjoy that approach, if it’s something you’re inspired by, it makes the screenwriting processes easier.

It’s also not very bloody like a lot of recent war films. How come?

It was an evolving phenomenon in preproduction as to what tone we would take. The script was always based on suspense. We watched Clouzot’s “Wages of Fear”, we watched Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent” and Steven Spielberg lent me his own print of “Saving Private Ryan” and we screened that for everybody.

The power of that film is extraordinary and tells you two things as a filmmaker. First, it tells you ‘don’t do that, because he’s already done it too well’. But the other thing it tells you is that suspense is a cinematic language where you can’t take your eyes of the screen. Horror is a cinematic language where you hide your eyes and look away and we were looking for suspense. We were looking for a different form of engagement with the audience from horror. We wanted to keep the audience watching, keep drawing them in and give them a very intense, suspenseful experience. So that’s really the reason we wound up on the path we did.

How much of the fact that your grandfather died in the war inspire you?

I never knew my grandfather. He was a navigator on the Lancaster bomber, did many missions and was tragically killed right at the point when he would have finished his missions and been able to stop flying. My father was always fascinated by aviation, by airplanes, because of his father’s experience, so with this film I felt a huge responsibility to achieve a feeling of reality and authenticity to the aerial scenes in the film. That was very much a motivator for why we approached it the way we did.

You also cast veterans and actors you’ve worked with before, like Tom Hardy. What made him right?

It relates to the previous question in a way. I think with my family history it’s not in me to not view a Spitfire pilot as a heroic figure, that’s just something that’s very important to me. So Tom, I think, is very cool and very iconic, and I always imagined him playing that part. I couldn’t really imagine anyone else doing it. And fortunately he agreed to come and do it for us, which was great.

Is it hard or easy to hold on to the passion as a director that drove you back when you were doing “Following” and “Memento”?

I supposed the reason you make films changes over time, but the thing that’s never changed for me is the fundamental joy of watching movies, watching your own movies come together. We screen the film every Friday in the edit suite on the big screen and eventually bring people in that process to test things and stuff, but to begin with it’s just for ourselves. And those are some of the most enjoyable parts of the experience, that feeling as an audience member watching your story come together. That’s really never changed for me.

It’s the first time you’ve worked with a true story. Was anything particularly difficult or challenging because you had to consider authenticity rather than just what was cinematic?

I never understood what Werner Herzog meant when he talked about ecstatic truth before I made this film, and now I do. Your responsibility is not to the experts on airplanes who know that the Messerschmidt 109 [Luftwaffe fighter] would not have a yellow nose until a month after Dunkirk, which is true, but we know that we need a yellow nose on that plane so you can see it’s different from a Spitfire. Those are the choices we’re making because I now understand that we need the feeling and the emotion and the sense of what “Dunkirk” was to be true, to be authentic. You have to manipulate the details to do that.

So for example, you can create a perfect reproduction of a British Destroyer in computer graphics, or you can say ‘what’s the closest ship to this we can find?’ It was a French Destroyer from 1953 that’s 80 feet longer but we can dress it and try and make it as much like the British one as we can. We’re going to get people with a lot of interest in naval history who will point out all the differences, but the feeling the audience has while watching the film I think is far more inclined towards authenticity with respect to history when they’re seeing a real ship as opposed to a CG version.

So these are the choices you make, and this is where I have a whole new understanding of this concept of ecstatic truth, this idea of what’s genuine authenticity.

For me it becomes about people who were really there. What would they have felt? Are we giving people the feeling? When we line up all the extras on the beach, they’re arrayed in a very geometric pattern. If you look at the photographs of the beach, they weren’t quite that geometric, but when you look at the photos you think ‘oh, that’s an interesting thing’. It’s an emphasis you want to give the audience so their eye is drawn to the almost absurdity of this very formal approach to waiting for nothing, because there are no boats coming. Choices like that have been a really fascinating and daunting learning process the whole way through.

We did a screening for the veterans who were actually there over in London, and standing in front of those guys  introducing our version was one of the most frightening things we’ve ever done professionally. It was a big relief to be finished with it and talk to them about it and get their responses. I sort of feel like the people who really matter, who really know, we’ve talked to them about it already.

Interviews

Aquaman screenwriter talks Justice League cameos, Julie Andrews & more!

Lisa Carroll talks to the co-writer of the blockbuster

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aquaint

Most people who want to get into entertainment have to leave their small town; writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s career literally got started in his.

“Shawshank Redemption” happened to be filming at the local prison in Ohio and Johnson-McGoldrick was able to work with the production, becoming an assistant to producer/director/writer Frank Darabont. However, it was patience and resilience that got him the rest of the way and now he’s part of one of the biggest blockbusters to come along this year.

Johnson-McGoldrick sat down with Moviehole to talk about the intricacies of co-writing “Aquaman,” Topo the bongo-playing octopus and Julie Andrews’ great role (not Mary Poppins!).

 

Moviehole: How did you get started in writing?

David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick:  I got started at a very early age. I was interested in putting on shows and I liked entertaining people from childhood. In my teenage years, I thought I would be an author and it was more because growing up in Ohio, it never occurred to me that you could work in movies. Back then to me, movies in the theater came out of a little box. At 16, I realized it was a job to make movies, and I decided not to write books so I went to film school. I wanted to direct and did a film and the script was good but the movie was terrible…that’s how I got started.

David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

 

Moviehole: Your mentor was Frank Darabont. What are the most important things you learned from him?

DLJM: It was a great mentor ship. At the time I was frustrated, because it was five years between “Shawshank” and “Green Mile” and I was like, when are we going to make it? He was writing and I got to see firsthand the emotional rollercoaster of it, the ups and downs — it’s a lot when you’re in your office by yourself all day long, you’re part of a process with no complete control over things. It helped prepare me emotionally for the excitement and disappointment of that job. He knew it was what I wanted to do and he was reading everything I wrote and giving me critiques. I remember reading “Saving Private Ryan,” (Darabont worked on the film) and reading his writing; I think stylistically in my approach in writing I’m very influenced by his writing. We are still in touch and there is stuff we want to work on someday.

 

Moviehole: What is your writing style?

DLJM: I have only worked with a partner once on “Wrath of the Titans.” I work on my own, and on this film we (Will Beall, co-writer) didn’t work at the same time — he did a draft and I did a draft, they went back and forth between us and he was the one who started that process on “Aquaman.” I actually met him for the first time at a WGA event. Meeting him went well. It’s the nature of the beast, you’re hired and fired and rehired. I have found mostly that writers understand that when you meet up. I don’t have hard feelings about being rewritten, especially on a movie this size. I used to have to be alone with total silence, I’ve since learned to do it in different circumstances and while working consistently, I am not precious about it.

I have to work on a plane or in a coffee shop and so I make a mix of soundtracks as music is a big part of it for me, I love soundtracks.  I can’t work with others talking. The music depends on what I’m working on. The only thing I have to avoid is a soundtrack if it’s too iconic, so I get soundtracks of movies I haven’t seen.  My favorite all-time soundtracks are “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but it’s too much of a visual image with those movies, I need to picture something original.

 

Moviehole: What was the biggest challenge about working on “Aquaman”?

DLJM: It was a lot of fun to be honest, you’re writing “Aquaman!” It was a little like getting to go play and I felt like the challenges that were faced were harder for Zach Snyder for “Justice League” — because he was the one who had to figure out who Aquaman was. It’s a maligned character and people are more familiar with the robot chicken character of Aquaman — a guy with a blond pompadour riding a fish is the conception. Zach cast Jason (Momoa) which completely shattered people’s perceptions and we were able to steer Jason back to the classic Aquaman. I don’t think you could’ve shown him in a suit right out of the gate. He had to show Aquaman was cool.

 

Moviehole: There’s a lot of psychology to writing then?

DLJM: Sometimes you have to break people’s expectations, like with Daniel Craig with “Casino Royale” breaking someone’s head with a toilet seat; two movies later on, he’s in a tux and he’s fighting komodo dragons.

 

Moviehole: What was your biggest surprise learning about the character Aquaman?

DLJM: When I first got this job, I went back to the comic issue one of Aquaman and was pouring through the issues, knowing we are doing a different take on the character. The biggest surprise I had reading it was that everyone had in their head an antiquated idea of who Aquaman was because of the cartoon show – the one with Aqualad  where he had an Aquacave, and he got married and had an Aqua baby and it was an innocent comic at the beginning.

Then it took a dark and sophisticated turn long before ”Watchmen” came about, it became about what comics could be. You had Black Manta kill Aquababy! It took a dark turn and it was that abrupt; Aquababy didn’t even have a name. The stories changed from Superman under water to a broader scope where he had to deal with politics and palace intrigue and he was a king. You went from the bongo-playing octopus Topo to a baby getting murdered. James Wan (director) was all into the octopus getting into the movie so Topo made it in the movie. He was all into the old school hat tip to Topo.

 

Moviehole: What about the special effects on “Aquaman”? 

DLJM: James early on was making a comparison about “Star Wars” under water, and I think it will surprise people — it takes us out of the typical superhero story. It’s not about a nuclear bomb, it takes place on a grand scale in a world we’ve never seen. It’s what makes that character different from other superheroes. We have a whole underwater civilization to explore and it feels like the opening of a giant world.

 

Moviehole: Not to do any spoilers, but how did Julie Andrews get involved?

DLJM: That was a surprise! Especially as “Mary Poppins” is coming out? That came early on from a very early incarnation as James always had this character that was going to be in it and communicate telepathically. At some point in the process, he said this type of creature always had a male voice so he thought why can’t it have a female voice? And it needed to have a lot of menace and gravitas. When he said it, I wasn’t thinking about the Mary Poppins thing of it.

 

Moviehole: Any Justice League stuff going on here?

DLJM: There are no Justice League cameos in this film. We discussed doing that and it was a fun thing to get to write, but it was the decision to have Aquaman stand on his own two feet that was the right way to go.

 

Moviehole: Any advice to newbies getting into the business?

DLJM: The hardest thing to do is getting your foot in the door. The thing I found was that I got very lucky in that I graduated from film school and just a few months after that “Shawshank” came to shoot in my hometown and I got hooked up in production. I gave Frank a script and he liked it and read it and that’s how I got my foot in the door. You have to be prepared for that luck when it happens. I had a script to give to Frank, plus I was working on a script after working 12 hours a day. There was stuff outside of my control, but I was also busting my ass to take advantage of that luck.

Sometimes it seems pointless, but if you have a pile of scripts to hand to someone, as long as you’re working you’re ready to pounce when luck turns that way. I always found pitching to be really difficult, it was hard to go out there and sell myself and I had to force myself to go and drive to meetings. Every nerve in my body wanted to turn around and go back. But eventually I can do it and be good at pitching. I had to learn though countless pitches and it seemed pointless but it was actually not.

 

Moviehole: Any upcoming projects?

DLJM: Next year I’ll be working on “The Conjuring 3,” the script is written so we will hopefully shoot it next year.

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Interviews

Interview: Judy Craymer, conceiver of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” now available on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray

Mandy Griffiths

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When you hear the word “ABBA” you may not think automatically of Judy Craymer, and yet, she has almost single-handedly been the driver behind ABBA’s prominance in popular culture in the last decade. Craymer is an English creator and producer of musical theatre, bringing the musical “Mamma Mia!” to life, first on the stage, seen by more than 60 million people worldwide, and then in film.

As the conceiver of the sequel, we also have Craymer to thank for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”. Now available on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray, we sat down with her to get some behind the scenes insight.

Did anything go wrong behind the scenes – any injuries, funny moments?

Everyone got the giggles when Julie Waters did anything. they always had a surprise from her.

Did Cher make any changes to the script or was there anything she suggested that made its way into the movie?

Cher had input on the script. They always wanted her and the role was written with her in mind. When she confirmed she had her own suggestions, Cher had an ear for her dialogue. She knew who the mother was and she had a lovely time. Loved it. She had an input in what she was wearing and suggestions from the team about her hair.

Did the actors playing the younger versions of Pierce, Stellan and Colin spend time getting to know/bonding with those stars before filming took place?

We had a dinner at an outdoor restaurant and it was like being out with the parents. Younger cast, older cast, with the younger cast belting out songs at the table.

What was the most difficult scene to film and why?

Dancing Queen was a challenge. Men with megaphones, music, ques and dancers, and marine safety with wind and rain. Quite complex timings and logistics wise. It was very bumpy on the water and people’s feet were worn from the 1970s sneakers.

The Super Trouper scene – they didn’t know what they were doing until halfway through it. They had to shoot in London and just didn’t know what it was going to be but knew they wanted costumes with sparkles to make it ahead of time. Choreography took about a day for that scene alone.

Which star got the giggles the most on set during filming?

So many! It was all great. Meeting and working with Cher and bringing everyone together. Every song was a highlight. On Judy’s birthday they all sung happy birthday to her including Cher, Meryl.  On the music side of things – being in the studio and hearing the music with a six piece orchestra is mind blowing.

How did the concept arise?

In mymind there was always going to be another film. I went to Richard Curtis and spoke to Catherine Johnson who wrote the original and asked how we could revisit it. Richard Curtis said she could go back and forth in time and then the light bulb idea came.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is now available on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray. 

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A Mandy Moment

Interview: Pippa Anderson, film editor for SOLO: A Star Wars Story

The Vice President of Post Production for all Star Wars films

Mandy Griffiths

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When you think of the person cutting together roaring Wookies, blaster battles and high speed space chases, you don’t necessarily think of a female, ex journalist from Brisbane Australia, and yet, it is in fact Pippa Anderson who is the Vice President of Post Production for all Star Wars films. 

One female of many on the Lucasfilm executive team, as well as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Anderson oversees the entire post process for the Lucasfilm slateincluding live-action, direct-to-consumer, and animation. Since 2013, with production schedules often overlapping, she has led the post production process for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” as well as the “Star Wars Rebels” animated series. She will continue to oversee post for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX.

Ahead of  the digital, DVD and Blu-ray release of “SOLO: A Star Wars Story”, we sat down with Pippa to talk life in the male-dominated film industry, how Peter Jackson started her on her journey to Hollywood, and her advice for keeping sane with so many (high-stakes) projects on the go.

When you first started your career, it was actually in journalism, and now you’re the VP of post-production over at Lucas film. Were you surprised about where your career has taken you?

Pippa: Oh yes, I would say surprised and so amazed, and you know really pleased the opportunity came up and that I was in a position where I could grasp it with both hands. That involved obviously changing jobs, but also changing life, moving to Sydney, to New Zealand and then setting up life here in California. So yep all of that was fantastic. You know when I came into Lucasfilm at the time I did in 2013, Kathy [Kathleen Kennedy] and I, we’ve talked about it recently, taking over from George and you know we were in development on “The Force Awakens”, which was the first film with Disney, and then followed up with “Rogue One”, and then we also have Rebels really going strong. And then there was “Last Jedi” and then “SOLO”. “Force Awakens” was the highest number one movie of 2015, “Rogue One” 2016 and “The Last Jedi” 2017. Not only are they amazing movies, but grossing crazy amounts of money. Wow, how could I not be amazed, surprised and delighted to be right in the middle of that?

And I hear you still have your Australian accent?

Pippa: Yes, I was born in Brisbane in Queensland. I spent a good deal of my adult life before heading off to New Zealand to work with Peter Jackson, in Sydney; in Putney area in Sydney, for those that really want to get specific because my great passion, one of my many great passions is boats in the water.

So we lived on an island there at the time, you know; as in you could only get there by boat. So it was a pretty and amazingly fun early life and I was a freelance editor and a post-editor supervisor then and then I moved over to join Peter Jackson to be his head of post in New Zealand. But then from there of course, you know I moved to California and I spend some time in London. So I think my accent is pretty modernized these days. You know, it’s got a lot of all of those flavours in it, so. Funny it only takes an hour or so to– when I’m back in the room with all these Aussies, for it all to come back.

It seems that almost every aspect of film, from screenwriters to directors to editors to critics, is male-dominated. Lucasfilm has an executive team that is more than 50 per cent female which is incredible to see. Was that part of the attraction for taking this position?

Pippa: You know I can’t say enough how what an honour it is to be part of the executive team under Kathy and also under Lynwen Brennan who’s the General Manager of Lucasfilm and also the Executive Vice President. I mean, both incredibly strong, smart, sharp savvy women and so they’ve surrounded themselves, and I’m delighted to be part of it. There are strong, smart, savvy women who are at the heads of very diverse roles such as Legal Finance, Human Resources, Post-Production, Publicity, Marketing, Story Development; what else? X-lab you know, ministry of entertainment, visual effects, animation, et cetera.

I mean it’s phenomenal that it’s across the board with a range of skills and talents – no wonder it’s a great team, but you know we have at our helm if you will, we have Kathy who’s such an inspiration, such a role model and an inspiration.

Working on so many films across the board, such as “SOLO”, and I’m sure you guys have a really busy slate, how do you manage to stay (a) Sane, and (b) Have that work-life balance?

Pippa: Yes, okay, I think that might be a different interview [Laughing].

How do we do it all? I certainly don’t wear the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman suit. Because the secret really is just amazingly dedicated teams. Really talented people, you know I’m talking in post now.

In terms of Skywalker Sound, in terms of the editors and the editorial team. I mean everybody loves Star Wars and so it isn’t usually very difficult to find A-listers, people who are excellent, who are really keen to work on a production, to come on-board. I for one definitely try to provide an environment where everyone can be individuals, and collaborative, work together, still be at their best and be at their best at all times within their own areas of the post-production process.

And they are the ones that enable me to kind of stay on top; not sure about the sanity bits, and definitely another conversation but stay on top of all of the curveballs, the changes, the very fact that that for me in my role, where I have very often got different complex productions you know; we’ve got one production that might be going on with all of the challenges that entails, but then we all have a number of different productions, all the way from starting to talk about something in the future in the very early sort of nascent stages, all the way through to whether you’re in that full-on crazy delivery time with mastering delivery and try to manage the system. All of that at any one day of any one week can theoretically all be happening at the same time. So you know I rely incredibly heavily on all of the teams both in London where we typically shoot, and in the teams in post land which is usually for us in Los Angeles, and of course my core, my incredibly, oh such strong, small core team here in San Francisco.

And did you grow up watching Star Wars, were you a big fan? And if so, what is one of your favourite Star Wars movies from that era, just for the fans out there?

Pippa: First of all I should say I grew up loving movies. I love that version of storytelling. I mean using all the different aspects like location and music and picture obviously and all that stuff. I just loved that storytelling and thought it was such a good expression of whatever was going on in society or in the world at that time. I wasn’t per say a Star Wars fan, but I very quickly became one. I’m old enough to have been there when the original came out. And I just was so smitten with this movie, and it was different, there was nothing else like that around at the time and I just loved the way that the story was excitingly told.

For the time, it was sophisticated. So as a movie experience, it was amazing. Now I’m talking about “A New Hope” now. And what it did do ,and then this was George’s brilliance, was just those fundamental things and issues like good and evil, and anger and betrayal and sacrifice and such different level; all those things that make human beings tick, and enable human beings to either effectively or not, interact with each other. It was just so well done that I was smitten, you see, and I saw the movie many times.

Then of course I loved “Empire” and “The Return of the Jedi”, but I have a special soft spot for “A New Hope”, just because I think it was that the first time I really received a movie like that into my heart.

What excites you about working on the Star Wars franchise in terms of the direction it’s going ?

Pippa: What I love is the fact that now with the new Star Wars films, I really loved the fact that it is so generational, speaks to all generations, and really able to go in that direction of diversity. I mean obviously as a woman we have this amazing executives with so many women but just also there’s such strong women being a role model. And then we’ve got women, people of colour, people of different backgrounds. We’ve got– yes, our minutes you know I could wax on forever but I love the fact that the standalones allow us to go inside the Star Wars universe and express new things. We can deal with stories, we can answer questions like Solo came about; how did he and Chewie meet, how did they find the Millennium Falcon, how did they get it off land, metal etc.

All of those things which is in sort of a Canon if you will, but it’s just very exciting to be able to explore the Star Wars universe now and do that in a way that is really satisfying from a personal and a sort of a societal and social point of view.

What kind of advice can you give, kind of aspiring filmmakers?

Pippa: Honestly, I think I’ve got to say this. I think you know I don’t want this to sound glib or anything but I think you know the best thing you can do is to be a bit of student of life.

Really, you know be observant, watch lots of movies, be open in your thinking, respond to people around you and everything because all of those things are a part of I think what makes you a good filmmaker or a good person in post-production – in fact a good human being really in all those ways. I mean you can choose to go to some film school or you can choose to go out like I did – and back then, by the way there weren’t so many film schools or possibilities to do it that way, you effectively came up through the ranks in a way; and they both have pluses and minuses, but they both get you to the same goal if you could be determined. And I think that’s one thing that is to be is, just don’t give up.

And be serious, keep your eyes open and don’t give up, and then as the opportunities reveal themselves, take them.

“SOLO: A Star Wars Story” is now available on digital, DVD and Blu-ray.

Extensive extras invite fans aboard the Millennium Falcon with Han, Chewie and Lando, and behind the scenes with the stellar cast and crew

Lucasfilm’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Ron Howard—the creator of unforgettable films, such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13,” “Parenthood” and “Splash”—took moviegoers on this summer’s wildest ride with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). The action-packed journey explores Han’s first encounters with future friend and copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and notorious gambler LandoCalrissian (Donald Glover), as well as his adventure-filledpast alongside fellow street thief Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke)and career criminal Beckett (Woody Harrelson)

 

 

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