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Q&A With I, Frankenstein Director Stuart Beattie

で IMAX 上の 一月 24, 2014

“It’s like when you get taken to Pandora in Avatar, it’s like being taken into space with Gravity or here we’re taking you into the world of I, Frankenstein it’s a world that doesn’t exist in the real world, you can’t access it in the real world, so let me take you in the best possible way and that’s with IMAX.” - I, Frankenstein Director Stuart Beattie

I, Frankenstein opened in IMAX® 3D theatres today and we had to opportunity to sit down with director Stuart Beattie to discuss the making of the film. He had a lot to say about how he made Frankenstein’s monster come to life on the big screen.

Before reading the Q&A below, watch the I, Frankenstein IMAX Featurette (introduced by Aaron Eckhart) where he discusses the benefits of seeing the film in IMAX® theatres. 

I, Frankenstein has been specially formatted for IMAX to deliver up to 26% more of the original image exclusively in IMAX theatres -filling the entire IMAX screen. Here's a look at how much more you can expect to see when watching the movie in an IMAX theatre versus a standard theatre.

Seeing more of the originally captured image allows you to be fully immersed in the action. Read below as Stuart Beattie discusses his experience creating I, Frankenstein and his inspiration when re-creating the story.

Q&A with I, Frankenstein Director Stuart Beattie

 

IMAX:

As a fan of films can you talk about your first experience with IMAX?

 

Stuart: 

Sure, I remember seeing a space film when I was very young in IMAX I can’t remember exactly what it was but I remember being transported to a different place and that always stayed with me that experience but I think the first full, big Hollywood movie that I saw in full IMAX was Mission Impossible 4 and that was an a amazing experience, when those cameras opened up and Tom Cruise is on the building I almost fell out of my seat, so, I enjoyed that a lot and I wanted to use the same format in I, Frankenstein.

 

IMAX:

Talk about your approach to it, you know, how did you make Adam and his whole environment accessible for modern audiences?

 

Stuart:

The first rule I had was to say that I, Frankenstein was going to be set in the world of Mary Shelley so that meant that everything was real and if that meant that this really happened, if this really did happen, how would it have happened? So I thought, well, the first thing I would do if I was trying to a corpse I’d find an intact corpse, a corpse that had all its arms and legs. Now it may need some new organs. Maybe the organs have deteriorated and so when I’m a dozen used parts from 8 different corpses he talking about internal organs lungs, eyes, muscles things like that that needed to be reworked but it’s a life size corpse and beyond that, I’d pick a good looking corpse you know and someone that looked like Aaron Eckhart.

 

Stuart:

I wouldn’t worry about scarring him up and doing all I had to do to get it done because remember Victor Frankenstein’s obsession was with creating this creature, not creating a beautiful creature but still it means no bolts in the neck, it means no lumbering around, he’s not 8 foot tall. It means he’s a regular looking human being that’s been bolted with enough electricity in a certain way to bring him back to life. Now the idea is that the body is brought back to life, the soul is not. When you pass, your soul goes where ever it goes and so this creature is basically a living corpse without a soul and that’s what makes him valuable to the demon horde, they need a creature without a soul in order to possess it and that’s all part of their big plan. So it was really, uh, I really just tried to make it real is the short answer.

 

IMAX:

So you mentioned the look and the design of the creature, it’s such an exciting process of getting into that design, were you inspired by anything you’ve seen in recent years or were you try to depart from the past?

 

Stuart:

I really wanted it to be my own creature in a way I wanted it to have realistic scarring. We found a woman in Jordan who was very good at designing scars ‘cause she had spent a lot of time in hospitals with war victims and refugees, so she’d seen real scars and how they work and so she helped us design the scars on the creature. But I was really going for something that hadn’t been done before. I felt in other Frankenstein films there’d been too little scarring other ones that had been too much scarring. I wanted to find something that felt real. That felt like, yes that looks like it really happened and that looks like a guy who’s been through it.

IMAX:

Going down that avenue of real that’s also reflected in the way that you shot this preserving the 1.9.1 aspect ratio, can you talk to viewers a little bit about what that means to viewers?

 

Stuart:

Most films have a rectangular box and that’s how you view the film. IMAX has much more of a top and bottom to it, so when you’re shooting a film you’ve got what’s called a 4K image basically on your cameras and that’s what’s recording and that 4K image is more like a square more like the IMAX 1.9 ratio than the standard box, the standard rectangle that you see in cinemas and there’s a little rectangle on your view finder, showing you what regular cinemas are going to see but there’s also the top and bottoms of the frame that only IMAX viewers are going to see.

 

Stuart:

So it’s actually a whole other 3rd a 3rd more film you get to see watching it through IMAX. So what I did, I had to be careful, when we were shooting that meant, I had to be careful not to have any boom mics hanging into frame, not any additional cameras in the bottoms or cords or lights or any of the other junk that goes around on a film set, I kind of really had to protect that whole 4K image. I knew I was going to blow it up and make it into a great IMAX piece.

 

Stuart:

You know a lot of IMAX conversions are done is they take that rectangular piece and cut off the edges and blow that up, so you’re actually seeing less film and its less resolution. But on I Frankenstein we actually went back in and added back the tops and bottoms so you are actually seeing a lot more film than anyone who sees it in a regular theatre and you get a whole new experience and there’s so much more information given in every frame. The more information you can give in a frame the more of story you can tell and I love doing that.

IMAX

So you set out, it was on your radar, IMAX, you went into production knowing this was something you were going to do.

 

Stuart:

It was always something I really hoped to do. It was always something I was selling the producers on cause this is one of those films where you want to be immersed in the world that’s being put up there on screen and the best way to be immersed into a world is to watch it on IMAX. It’s like when you get taken to Pandora in Avatar, it’s like being taken into space with Gravity or here we’re taking you into the world of I, Frankenstein it’s a world that doesn’t exist in the real world you can’t access it in the real world so let me take you in the best possible way and that’s with IMAX.

 

IMAX:

So technically this makes your production designer’s job a little more intense right? Because you’re covering more ground basically

 

Stuart:

Makes my production designers job more intense, my DP’s job, my camera department, my lighting department yeah they all complain but it’s all for a good cause you know because in the end you end up with a stellar product that really is worth the extra few dollars to go see because it really becomes a whole different experience.  It really is a difference experience watching I Frankenstein in IMAX than opposed to in a regular theatre.

 

Stuart:

There are sequences where you just start to get vertigo in certain places and becomes this great roller coaster ride that doesn’t happen in the 2D version in the regular version. So yeah, it really is a whole different movie. You can see it once in regular theatres and once in IMAX and say, that was a completely different movie and that’s because we’ve added in the bottom and the top of the frame from the original 4K negative we haven’t just blown up the bits in the middle. It’s really been a lot of work by a lot very talented people, it’s a really good conversion I‘m very proud of it.

 

IMAX:

So beyond IMAX can you talk about some of your creative decisions, talk about how you enhanced this movie for viewers?

 

Stuart:

Yeah look, I really wanted to give viewers the most that I could possibly give and IMAX is a huge part of that. It was Brad Bird that said cinemas today will always be able to give audiences something they can never get at home, one of those things is crowds, seeing it with a crowd and the other is seeing it on a gigantic screen and letting you be immersed in that world and so that’s what IMAX gives to you. Now on top of IMAX we did a 3D conversion and the 3D conversion on I Frankenstein was done by the same people that did gravity. So its this beautiful conversion that they’ve done and they had the proper time to do it, they had a good 8 months to do the conversion so it looks beautiful.

 

IMAX:

I want to go back and talk a bit more about your initial steps in getting involved, what sparked it and it took 3 years to bring this story to life, there’s got to be quite a bit there as well?

 

Stuart:

Well I remember 3 years ago when I first walked in the door to meet with the producers about it, there pitch was, it’s called I, Frankenstein and it’s an action movie about the Frankenstein creature. And I just thought that was a great idea because it allowed me the chance to do a really character driven action movie. You can’t call it I, Frankenstein if it isn’t the Frankenstein character and the Frankenstein character is so rich and deep and complex. I mean he’s a really messed up guy, if you think about it. So the idea of framing a movie around that guy I knew it was going to be a really powerful human story and I think at the end of the day that’s what drives good cinema and it always will. If you don’t have that great human story to begin with then everything else you do will never help it. It had a great foundation, it was a great idea, a great powerful character that I thought I could really get into.

 

Stuart:

I remember I had to pitch 3 times before I got the job because my pitch was, its about a monster becoming a man and they said no. They called me back a week later, what’s the pitch? Monster becoming a man…no…a week later…what is it again?...a monster who becomes a man but it’s an action movie? Yeah, an action movie about a monster becoming a man and they said okay. And 3 years later that is still the film today it’s really about this monster that earns his humanity. That earns his soul,that finds his purpose and his place in the world. That’s one of things I’m most proud.

 

IMAX:

Do you have any favorite monsters from the past besides Frankenstein?

 

Stuart:

I think the alien in Alien is one of the best movie monsters of all times, its scary, it impregnates you, you birth it, it kills you when you birth it and its driven by a very strong survival instinct, which I think all monster have and in the end that’s kind of what all monsters want in a way and certainly Frankenstein has that survival instinct. For 200 hundred years he’s been surviving. He didn’t ask for this life, he’s not going to give it away though and he’s going to fight to defend it because I think we are all creatures of survival we all need to stay alive as long as we can.

 

Stuart:

I think what makes the Frankenstein monster even more interesting is that in many ways he’s a lot like us, he’s alone. He thinks there’s no one else out there in the world for him. And it’s literally true in his case he is the only one of his kind and he’s cursed with this never-ending existence, he doesn’t know when he’s going to die or if he’s going to die. He’s the only one of his kind, the guy who made him is dead, can’t ask him for answers, there are no answers, he’s searching for answers and I think that makes him a really compelling guy. And of course I think what makes a monster is really how the monster behaves. In I Frankenstein the whole journey of the monster to realize that you’re only a monster if you behave like one and you can choose to behave like a human and I think that helps round out the idea of what monster is today

 

IMAX:

What was your reaction when you first watched the film in the Big Deal screening room at IMAX’s LA office?

 

Stuart:

When I first saw I, Frankenstein in IMAX my immediate reaction was that I was catapulted back in time onto those sets with those actors, I felt like I was back in those rooms again so it was an incredible experience. And I think that’s what it gives audiences, you know if you want to know what it’s like to be in a room with a Frankenstein creature, go see I, Frankenstein in IMAX.

 

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