Director Denis Villeneuve Talks PRISONERS, Working with Roger Deakins, His First Three-Hour-Plus Cut, Deleted Scenes, and More

     September 18, 2013


Opening this weekend is director Denis Villeneuve‘s (Incendies) Prisoners.  The film stars Hugh Jackman as a working-class father who sets out to track down the man he believes is responsible for kidnapping his daughter and her friend.  Along the way, he runs up against the big city detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) assigned to the case.  The pic, which was shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, also stars Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis.  For more on Prisoners, watch the trailer, five clips, or read Matt’s review

Last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, I landed an extended video interview with Villeneuve.   He talked about making a movie like this within the studio system, his first assembly cut being three-and-a-half hours, deleted scenes, what it was like to work with Roger Deakins, the challenge of balancing the thriller aspect of the story with the character focus and keeping the mystery compelling, and a lot more.  While Hollywood puts out a lot of mediocre movies, this is not one of them.  I definitely recommend checking it out this weekend.  Hit the jump for the interview.

prisoners-posterDenis Villeneuve Time Index:

  • :30 – The challenges of making a movie like this within the studio system.  Says he was given a great amount of freedom by the producers and studio.
  • 3:23 – His tight assembly cut was three and a half hours.  Says he made himself be tough in the editing room to cut out the fat.  Describes the film as a long novel with a complex story.
  • 4:58 – The editing process.  Says the first hour was not hard to cut and only took a few days.  The toughest thing was removing the last five minutes.
  • 6:19 – Deleted scenes.  “When it’s in the trash bin, it’s dead.”  Says he doesn’t believe in extended cuts or deleted scenes at all, and there won’t be any on the Blu-ray.
  • 8:40 – Talks about what happens to the footage that he removed from the film.
  • 9:37 – How did he land Roger Deakins as his cinematographer?  Says Roger is a very curious man and likes new experiences, and after seeing Incendies he loved the film and wanted to work with Denis.
  • 11:51 – Describes his first meeting with Deakins.  Says his main problem working with Roger in the beginning was that he was always too impressed with him.
  • 13:38 – He storyboarded a large portion of the film because it was his biggest movie ever.  Talks about his collaboration process with Deakins on set and improvising shots.
  • 15:47 – Working with Alcon Entertainment and possible future collaborations.  Says he’d like to write his own script.
  • 17:16 – Balancing the thriller aspect of the story with the character focus and keeping the mystery compelling.


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