Last night I posted a bunch of movie clips
from the upcoming ďBourne UltimatumĒ movie. Tonight Iím going to post the press conferences I attended with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, the director of the film.
And as I said last night, for those of you that are wondering if the third chapter of the Bourne franchise is as good as the previous twoÖ you can relax now. Iím happy to report that director Paul Greengrass has once again made a great Bourne movie and I think it might be the best one yet.
Everything you love about the series is in the movie, plus itís all been amplified by the amazing locations from around the world and Ultimatum has some of the best fights and car chases youíll see this year.
The only thing you need to know prior to watching isÖ I recommend seeing the second movie again, as the third movie starts where the second left off. Mind you, you donít have to re-watch it, but if you have the time itís well worth it.
So to help promote the film, Universal held a press day and they got the cast and Paul Greengrass to come in and answer a ton of questions. While the interview below is worth your time, be warned that spoilers are discussed.
During the interview Paul discusses how he makes a Bourne movie and all the challenges that go with it. If you are a fan of the Bourne franchise, hearing how it all comes together is quite interesting.
As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the press conference as an MP3 by clicking here.
ďThe Bourne UltimatumĒ gets released on August 3rd.
Question: How important was it for you stepping into Ultimatum to ensure that this was as politically relevant as you could make it given the fact youíd done United 93 and we are living in this post 9-11 world, eavesdropping and lack of privacy, etc. Was it important for you to ensure collected all those concerns Iím sure you must have had?
Paul Greengrass: You know the thing is when you come to a Bourne movie you come to have some fun. Thatís honestly the truth of it, I mean me personally. Itís a Saturday night movie. Itís the movie Iíd go to if I were going out for a Saturday night and Iíd want to have a great time and have the best ride of the summer. Iím answering your question. Iím not being facetious, Iím being honest here. That, front and center, is what a Bourne movie is going to be. Itís gotta be true to the character and true to the world the character lives in. Now, the Bourne world is the world thatís outside our door. If you opened your door in New York or Paris or London or whatever you got to believe that whatever story it is that Bourneís engaged in could be happening there. But I donít come to a Bourne movie to make any kind of statement. What attracts me to Bourneís world is that is a real world and I think Iím most comfortable there. But I come to a Bourne movie to have fun as a filmmaker, to strut my stuff and thatís part of the fun of franchise filmmaking. You get to build a ride and bring it out in the summer and compete with all the other great movies out in the marketplace. So yeah, there is an awful lot Ďcos weíve all madeÖa lot of people come backÖ they were there for Supremacy and youíre kind of feeling around the set is that weíre going to be the best. Youíve got to believe that. Itís quite sporting in a way. For me it kind of feels like weíre going to win. When youíre directing a franchise movie you want to foster that because you know theyíre very, very arduous long tiring complex frustrating sometimes activities. But you must never lose the sense of adventure. You know, the sense of excitement. Now what makes Bourne special I think is that it marries that with intelligence, with cool story telling, doesnít underestimate its audience and itís got this kind of gritty real contemporary landscape. That to me to answer your question is thatís the dash of Worcester sauce. Thatís the little bit of chili but itís not the meal. Thatís what I think about it. When I go off and do my movies, Iíll make the chili the whole meal.
Paul, you take the viewer thatís watching this movie on a very exciting and visual journey and Iím just curious because of the various locations you went in, what were some of the challenges in many of the cities that you happened to run up against if any?
Every one of them was a hideous nightmare. Thatís the truth of it. But one of the things that I like to say when Iím making a filmóitís a bit of a mantra for me is whatever our problem is is our opportunity. Itís certainly true in a Bourne movie. One of the things that makes the Bourne movies so exciting I think is you do get to go on a journey. Generally through the franchise that journey is in Europe. This time obviously towards the end it comes back to New York. Unlike a lot of films if weíre in Tangier, weíre in Tangier. Weíre not on the backlot somewhere. That makes for tremendous logistical difficulties and tremendous difficulties in shooting. If youíre going to say letís mount really a very large sequence on Waterloo Station. Thatís the busiest terminal in London, you know. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people are going through that place every hour. You canít lock it down. They wouldnít let you and you canít do it, so what you have to do is see that as an opportunity not a problem. What you get is the texture of life within it and all the things I believe very, very much as a filmmaker is that if you create a film set which is the classic way itís done which is highly sanitized, you know. Thereís a perimeter around it and you know, you effectively erect a wall around yourself and then youíve got a sanitized space where you can make your movie inside that. Thatís fine but I think the problem is you become cut off from the real world, so I like to have a set that has whatís going on, you know. It makes for problems, but what you get in return for that is the vibrancy, the energy of a huge mainline station or Tangier or New York and it shows. Its part of what makes the Bourne films special, I think.
How did you shoot that in Waterloo?
With enormous difficulty! You have to think carefully about how youíre going to do it. What you do is you design the sequence that is in many, many pieces so in fact youíre planning to shoot in many different parts of the station. What you have to do is never be in the same place twice because what happens is that people get to know youíre there and a crowd starts to build up. What you have to do be like aÖitís impossible to be like a true guerilla unit because itís a hugeÖitís a Bourne movieÖitís a huge movie, but youíve got to move from place to place and be unpredictable so people donít know where you are and then move on fast. Youíve got to schedule it so youíre not there for too long a period of time in any one time. So you might go for 2-3 days and then disappear and go off and do something else and then come back for 2-3 days a week or two later. If people get to know youíre going to be there, then the crowds are going to build up and what it means, of course, it puts prodigious demands on the actors because they never know from one hour to the next which bit of the sequenceÖ well even I didnít knowÖ youíve just got to seize your moment. It makes for opportunity. I think that my filmsóIím not doing across the board here-- but itís certainly true of Bourne Ultimatumóyouíre trying to bring together two forces that essentially are going in opposite directions. And those 2 forces are structure, order, planning, story, all the things you can lay down in advance logistically, narratively whatever it is. Then youíve got the force of freedom, improvisation, the moment, the happy accident, the unstructured bit of filmmaking. I think what I try to do all the time is bring those two into the closed possible proximity and where the two meet thatís where a Bourne movie should be. It means that theyíre fresh, you know. A Bourne movie is not an airline meal. Itís made on the run, you know. It doesnít always work believe me but you know. With this tremendous self belief in the team, weíve got in my view the greatest movie star in the world. Heís perfect for the part. Fantastic producers in the studio who allow us to make this huge franchise movie in this incredibly edgy, bold way actually, and together as a team we get there, I hope.
Looking at the production notes before you started, I was glancing through them and I noticed there was a page of stunt performers.
There was a page ofÖ?
There was a page of names of stunt performers. Now when you craft your scene do you do the stunt aspect first or do you do the script and then kind of work the stunt in and a comment to add to that the fight scene in Tangiers was the most exhausting, exhilarating scene Iíve ever seen. I thought will someone just die. It was just on the edge of everything so I just had to tell you that.
Well, the answer is that youÖhow do you design a big action sequence? First of all you have to attach it initially in its broadest sense. Itís just my view. I think itís tremendously important when youíre looking at action in a movie and I think itís one of the reasons why Bourne films people love them, youíve got to pay very close attention to how itís set up. Youíve got to have a real reason for your character to move into action as opposed to oh, letís just have an action sequence. So how you set up the narrative and the issues that are in play that demand the central character to go into action are very, very important and you have to choreograph that carefully and if you do it carefully and satisfactorily by the time you hit the action your audience is loving it because theyíve been primed to go. Then youíve got to conceive of action in an original way that is consistent with Bourne and his world. That means that when Bourne is in a corner you canít just have him, you know, pull out some kind of technology and get himself out of trouble or suddenly have some kind of magic powers that get him out of hole or heís a superhero so he can just swat them aside. Youíve got to think through the thought process of a real man absorbing information at high speed, making a choice and then executing it with pace and precision. When youíre making the film, thatís what youíve got to show all the time every time. You see that throughout all those action sequences and then the last fact youíve got to pay very close attention to I think and Iíve tried to do it in the two Iíve done is that whenever you go into action, the action has got to lead to character development. The character has got to be changed during the course of the action. Itís got to be selling your something profound about the character as opposed to it just happening. So if you think of that whole Tangiers sequence thatís you know, it resolves itself with a core character moment of shame about Bourne, heís right there and heís had to kill again and all of that. So when you marry those three things together then I think you get satisfying action. To answer the question about what was the questionóabout the fight? The fight is essentially a violent ballet. Thatís what it is in reality. What youíre looking to do isÖ first you have to commit to the actors doing it, not the stunt men. Thatís number 1. Stunt men may help enormously and always do in preparation of the fight. When you prepare a fight you go into a rehearsal room and theyíll be stunt performers and you start to work out with stunt performers to begin with how and the actors how the fight might unfold. You canít be exploring dangerous elements with your leader. Then as you get the shape the actors will come in and weíll start to build it up and change it and evolve it and they let their own ideas in. Then you start to work on the precision and the pace of it. Itís a tremendous amount of work that goes into these things before they ever hit the floor. Then once youíre on the floor, the moves, the dance is set. Itís a dance, thatís what it is. Then what youíre working on is if the tolerance is that between safe and somebody getting knocked out for 6 years then youíre looking to get that tolerance to there.
And you nailed it.
I didnít, they did. And that takes, believe me, unbelievable stamina for those two actors, day after day after day. Incredible exertions of power, courageóbecause youíre getting hurt in those things. You canít smash around like that for a week or whatever it is in confined spaces reallyÖwhen youíre in front of it itís absolutely ferocious. Itís like theyíre fighting. They are fighting. And then the last thing you need is an incredible trust thatís earned from rehearsals. Trust that when that guy throws that punch itís going to be real and heís got to trust that the other guy is just going to be that far away and youíve got to decide whoís in charge of the moves because you both canít be in charge. Itís like Öincredible. Very exciting to watch if youíre a director.
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