When I sat down to do the Angel-A press day with Luc Besson I was just happy to be meeting someone whose work I loved. I never thought I would find out news that would make my month, possibly even my year.
Let me also say how much I love The 5th Element. Love. If that movie comes on cable I have to stop what Iím doing and watch. And while Iíve sent the movie dozens of times, each viewing I find something new.
What Iím getting at is while Iíve enjoyed his action flicksÖ Iíve been waiting for him to get back into the sci-fi arena. So for all of you who are like me get ready to be excited.
During the press day I kept on asking him about sci-fi and the 5th Element and he replied:
Iím going to try to do it again. Iím going to try and do a trilogy.
Is that something thatís in your brain now?
Yeah. Not before two or three years. I got an idea I think.
He went on to say that the 5th Element was originally going to be a trilogy but his producer ďdidnít have the gutsĒ. He also talks about the huge hurdles he had to overcome to make the film and that if heíd waited about a year to make the movie it wouldíve been tremendously easier.
We also talked about what he has coming up and I asked him to do his schedule for the next year and he said:
Iím producing another film called Taken with Liam Neeson with the director of District 13. They are shooting here. I was there last night on the set. Thatís good. Liam Neesonís going to be wonderful in it. Itís an action film, very intense. I have another one, Transporter 3 probably March and April next year. Then another one called From Paris with Love which is an action film also weíre going to shoot next year. Then two other animated films, one called A Monster in Paris which is a great film from the guy who did, itís a French guy who works on an animator from Dreamworks but I donít remember which one. And we did another animated film called Ruby Tuesday with the Rolling Stones, 12 songs of the Rolling Stones. Itís an animated film with 12 songs of the Rolling Stones. Itís going to be great too. And a couple of French films.
WOW. A number of those projects sound cool and Iím especially curious about Ruby Tuesday and which songs theyíll use from the Stones.
While the sci-fi trilogy is still a ways off at least itís coming. I seriously cannot wait.
If you are a fan of Luc Besson this is a must read interview. He is candid about everything and this is one of the best interviews Iíve been apart of.
As always if youíd like to listen to the audio of this interview click here. Itís an MP3 and easily put on a portable player or you can burn it to a CD and listen in your car.
If youíd like to watch the trailer before reading the interview - click here
Angel-A opens in the end of May.
Some spoilers are discussed in this interview Ė you are warned
Why did you think of her, she doesnít speak French?
Yeah, she didnít speak French at all.
Why not a French actress?
There is no one who looks like her in France. No, itís an alchemy between, itís not so much about finding her. Itís finding her and him at the same time because you canít have one and not the other. You have to choose them in the same time almost. I met her as a director first because she wants to do her short film. So I never mentioned the film, I never talked about the film to her. A month later, I met Jaumel. Then it starts to work in my head and say, ďOh, hold on a minute, him and her. That could be cool.Ē
After taking off so much time from directing was it important to you to make the film in French?
I know it looks like that from outside but I finished Joan of Arc, I rested for a couple of months, like two or three, and then I started to work on Arthur and the Invisibles. Actually, I started to work on the film when I was in the editing of Joan of Arc, some sketches and things. The making of Arthur was five years long. So thatís why. I was not on the beach, believe me.
Then just the question of going back to make a French film as youíve done a lot of English language films.
Honestly, it depends on the story. Nikkita looks like a kind of action film in a way but it was French for me in my head. It was French. Itís how the French government looks, very polite and buildings and things and how they can hide things. They are the specialists of that. They are worse than the Americans. But when I go to Leon for example, I love the fact Leon is from Italy and is an immigrant in New York and New York is so big and heís so small that heís invisible. Thereís multi-culture and Mathilda is, you know. I feel the film more in English in New York. Iím really driven by the story in fact. The fact that Iím pretty naked in this film. Iím 45 years old and I talk about this man who lied all his life and decided not to anymore, which is really the story of every man. So because I was so naked, I think the fact to be in French, to be in Paris was closest to me. I would lie a little more if it was in English in another city. It would be another way of hiding myself more.
Was there a place in Paris you couldnít film?
You were allowed everywhere?
Oh, I didnít say I was allowed but if there is a place where I canít shoot, no. There are some shots that were no authorization at all.
Do they look the other way in France?
Itís the good thing about being popular. A few times the cops arrived and I just smiled and said, ďHey, itís me.Ē ďOh, Mr. Besson, can we take a picture?Ē Theyíre sweet in France, the cops honestly. Itís not tough as here. Here where they ask for my paper, I donít crack jokes. Iím like okay. You really feel strong which is, in a way which is good.
Did you know you were always going to film this in black and white? Also why did you chose to and how difficult was it to do the film like this?
Black and white because yin and yang, because tall and small, introverted extroverted, blonde brown, the good the bad, the black the white, everything is in opposition in the film. And I need the film to have this little poetry. Is it real? Is it a dream? Is it a fairy tale? So I have the black and white, I have the frame and I have the music to give a mood because I need the people to believe at the end that yeah, of course sheís going to have wings and sheís going to go. To make it believable, I need for an hour to relax you, like almost a massage. You have the music like do do do do. Kind of mood where you can actually just enjoy the scene and believe it. You say, ďOh my God, no, sheís going to leave.Ē So color is very crude. Itís the news. Itís 8PM, blood, war. Itís like ugh, itís rough.
Was it shot in color and converted?
It was shot in color but we treat the film at the lab before the shoot first. But the thing about the black and white is as you know, the green, the red, the yellow, they donít react the same way in black and white so lots of tests, especially on clothes and interiors and clubs and things. We test every type of thing. But the main thing is the light in Paris, because as you know, they built the city at the time where the electricity didnít exist. So they were very careful with light. Very careful, the angle of buildings, they studied winter, summer, how itís working so itís such a pleasure to shoot in this type of city because you just have to wait for the right hour and itís magical. So I send my assistant, for example on the bridges of Paris, every bridge, every hour, four pictures, north, south, east, west and I have big books of all the bridges at every hour and I knew, you decide which scene you shoot at what time on which bridge. So sometimes there is a scene where we have 40 minutes of the perfect sun. So we rehearse, rehearse, rehearse a few days before, then we arrived and we shoot very fast. Then we get out.
You took advantage of natural light?
Oh, itís like all the bridges, there is no light on the film. None.
Youíve become quite a prolific producer also. Whatís going on with the B13 sequel?
Weíre not going to do it.
I donít know, I donít feel it.
Would you use those guys in a different setting?
Iíd rather do District 13 2 with the same guys in France. Weíre going to do a sequel in France.
Yeah, thatís what I was asking.
Oh, I thought you were talking about the remake in English.
No I was talking about District 13.
Ah, sorry, sorry, Iím sorry. Weíre going to do a sequel. But at the certain moment, thereís a big studio who asked us to remake the film and I said no.
So whatís coming up for those guys in the French sequel?
Itís going to be just a little bit more funny I think, the second one.
As a filmmaker have you thought about shooting on digital cameras?
It depends. I think itís a tool so if itís appropriate to the film, yeah, why not? If itís not appropriateÖ when Jean Jacques-Anaud made Two Brothers, the film with tigers, he shot in digital and he was right. He has to shoot 15 hours the tiger before the tiger does what he wants. If he wants him to lick himself, he has to wait for two hours. To do that in 35, it will take forever. So at least he has a reel of two hours, he can shoot and it costs a few bucks and thatís it.
Rie said when you were shooting this movie that you only shot four hours a day. Is that true or was she exaggerating?
How many weeks did you shot this?
Wow. Were most scenes done in one take?
Not one take. A few takes but letís take for example the scene at the end, before she goes in the air, just the scene where they fight on the bridge. And sheís crying and she pushes him and they finally kiss, the entire scene is made in an hour. We rehearse so much, the funniest thing was in fact the day before when we go just Rie, Jaumel and me, the three of us on the bridge, at the real bridge by night, we donít care, just to rehearse. There is always some Japanese or just tourist, ďWhat are they doing?Ē Because theyíre fighting and Iím just here watching.
How long did rehearsals go before shooting?
Months. When we come, we know exactly- - they get out of the trailer, they go to the thing, camera comes, action. We know. Itís just like putting the stand. And this scene for example, itís two steadicam at the same time so watching the making of from far, that was insane. To see them screaming and the two steadicam guys going and all on the bridge going up and down and up and down, it was very funny. And when they arrive to the place where theyíre finally going to kiss at the end, I have a third camera waiting so when they arrive to the right setup, with two steadicams, then I take the third one. During the shot, I take a third one on the shoulder to have a close-up of the two.
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