EXCLUSIVE: Interview With DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Director Matt Reeves

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Director Matt Reeves

<font color=red>EXCLUSIVE:</font> Interview With DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Director Matt Reeves

We recently had the chance to talk to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, and he shares his thoughts about why motion capture performances should be viewed the same way as live-action ones come awards season, his interest in superhero movies, the sequel, and much more...

After directing easily one of the best found footage movies of all-time with Cloverfield, Matt Reeves would then set his sights on horror remake Let Me In. Both movies were met with an overwhelmingly positive response, but the filmmaker took on his biggest challenge to date with Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It paid off of course as the movie is one of the best reviewed releases of 2014 and has grossed over $700 million worldwide.

Ahead of the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apeon DVD and Blu-ray, we had the chance to speak with Matt about the movie AND whether he would be interested in taking on a sueprhero movie. He's often suggested by fans as being the perfect choice for a number of comic book adaptations, but with the Planet of the Apes franchise keeping him busy for the forseeable future, it could be some time before he takes on a superhero as you can see by reading below...

I wanted to start off by asking what on the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes DVD and Blu-ray are you most looking forward to fans seeing? 
Well, you know, I think the movie was so bizarre in terms of the way we made it. I'd never made a performance capture movie before and we were shooting under very challenging circumstances in the rainforest and out on location much more than Rise (which was shot mostly on stage). To look behind the curtain at that process is pretty interesting, even for me! We're just starting to work on the story of the next movie, and looking at all of this footage and the documentary and features, it reminded me of how insane the making of the movie was and, how much I loved working on it, and how excited I am to be making another one. It's a pretty interesting thing for us to share and the behind-the-scenes making-of pieces are really cool I also like sharing some of the scenes I really wanted to include in the movie that ultimately I felt didn't work. I'm hoping that people who enjoyed the film will be curious to see how different the process was to other movies. 

A lot of people are saying motion capture performances should be judged the same way as live-action ones at award ceremonies like the Oscars. What's your take on that? 
Oh yes, there's no question. If you're responding to the emotions you're seeing on camera or for example the contempt you feel from Koba, you're responding to the performances of Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell. Performance capture is all based around capturing performance, the performance that comes from those actors. I think the reason that there's so much discussion about it is because people are realising where the performance aspect of the character is coming from and it is absolutely from the actors. Their work is incredible, and what I think is also important is how Weta can translate those performances onto a photo real CG ape. 

Talking of the special effects, one moment which really stood out for me was the 360 tank turret scene. Can you tell us about the work which went into that amazing sequence? 
Ironically, the easiest part of doing that shot was the shooting of the shot by putting a camera on the turret and riding it through the set because there were no actors on that set! What was difficult was filling in all of the details in that single shot, and unlike the other scenes where there was a lot of interaction with the human actors and the acting was done on set, that was one of the few shots in the movie where we did all of the acting in the visuals. We set up scaffolding in the shape of the tank and shot all of the elements, and then we had to find all of the different things in the background where the battle was raging, and it took months and months. If you're working on effects shots, you go through certain iterations, and many shots I would finish and I would say, 'This shot is fine for the final movie,' but it would have been taken down a number of paths from blocking to animation to lighting, it might have taken several hundred iterations of a single shot to get to the version that is your final shot. On this particular shot, we did more iterations of it than any other shot in the whole movie, and when I finally said I thought the shot was ready to be final for the film, it was version 1030! So, we had done over 1000 iterations of that shot and when I said, 'Ok, that's it; final!' I was at Weta and they erupted with cheers and applause because it took that long. 

I have to ask...a lot of fans would love to see you direct a superhero movie, so have you been approached for any and do you think it's something you would be interested in one you're finished with this franchise?
There were a couple of things I talked about in the past, but I haven't been approached by anyone recently. There were a few different superhero franchises that I was approached about which just weren't the right fit for me in terms of the emotional weight of it. But obviously, when I was growing up with Superman and Batman, the metaphors of those stories had a lot of resonance with me and I always found them to be very exciting. There's not one I'm waiting for them to message me about. I always evaluate projects on a case by case basis, and if there's one I really connected with emotionally, I guess we'll see. Certainly right now, I'm planning on doing Apes films for a little while. 

Recently, some concept art started doing the rounds online from Rise of the Planet of the Apes showing Caesar standing in the Statue of Liberty. Did you ever consider maybe using that here, and what else can you tell us about your plans for the next movie? 
That was a concept that was shot for the last movie, but they decided it didn't work and I'm really glad they didn't use it actually. It would have really narrowed the focus of this movie, and in a way I think it's a really tired pay off that everyone already knows from Planet of the Apes. I think it took place after the Fall of Man, so why narrow your focus by showing that at the end of the movie when you can tell all of the chapters that add up to that story starting with Dawn and then moving into the next one. I'm glad they cut it. 
I hope to cross an epic landscape that will be expansive and emotional, it's a story that's going to take Caesar and cement his position and transformation into an epic figure almost along the lines of an Ape Moses. We think it's going to be his biggest arc yet, and we'll draw on all of the scenes which have been a basis from the two films by really looking at his existential nature and see him really grappling with the light and dark in a painful way. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano, Kirk Acevedo and Judy Greer, and is released tomorrow on DVD and Blu-ray. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to talk to us!
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