Earlier today I did the press junket for “In the Valley of Elah” and was able to participate in a press conference with Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon. In the coming week or two I’ll be posting the full transcript of the interview…but due to some comments that Susan said about “Speed Racer,” I had to post what’s below immediately.
Before we go any further, some background.
A few months ago I heard this crazy story that The Wachowski Brothers were filming "Speed Racer" with a new type of camera that was revolutionary and the final film would look like nothing we’d ever seen before on a movie screen. But try as I might, I couldn’t second source the info and find out exactly what was going on.
Then, a bit later, I heard more specifically what they were doing. Supposedly they were going to make the entire frame always in focus… like a cartoon. I had heard that the reason for the long filming process was not due to the extensive blue screen work, but due to this new look that they were going for and, once again, I still couldn’t second source it.
And while I did get some info on the camera out of one of the stars, Hiroyuki Sanada, it was not as much as I’d hoped for.
But I can now officially confirm these rumored stories as Susan Sarandon answered my Hail Mary pass when I asked her the question below. And if you’d like to listen to my question and her answer, click here to download the entire interview. The time index you’d want is 20:45. Also notice how Tommy Lee Jones keeps asking the questions…
Question: Susan, could you talk about working with the Wachowski Brothers and filming in Berlin and also the new camera that they’re using?
Susan: I love the Wachowski Brothers. Basically all I do is make pancakes in the movie and stand around and serving breakfast to everybody.
Tommy Lee Jones: What camera are they using?
Susan: They’re using some high def thing that comes with guards and it’s beyond anything I’ve ever…. I saw 10 minutes before I left, they did a special thing for me cause they’re just wrapping and having a party tonight, they were still working after I left. They’re doing something where they’re layering film so that the front and the back are in focus like a cartoon and they’re also doing two dimensional and three dimensional stuff and mixing and everything is very, very saturated with some new kind of film, so they actually have to treat the actors in some way so we can hold our own with the background. So it’s every color that wasn’t in The Matrix is seriously in this film.
Tommy Lee Jones: The camera comes with guards?
Susan: Yeah, yeah. When I talked with them on the phone – I’d never met them – when they asked me to do it, I had two conversations with them because it’s a very small part and it was a very long commitment because of the way they were shooting this. At a certain point I just said I don’t have the faintest idea of what you are talking about, I’m in. I just thought when am I ever going top get a chance to be up to my neck in something I understand so little about and they definitely fulfilled my expectation. But they have these two big, huge, widescreen things…at the end of the day you can see how everything is going to be before it’s treated and they have a room of 200 or 300 guys that are doing all the background, it’s insane. And we were shooting on 4 stages and it was really interesting and a lovely experience and all the actors were great and I was working with a monkey…I’m sorry a chimpanzee – he doesn’t like to be called a monkey. It was wild… and they’re very, very sweet. They have complete control which is every director’s dream.
Tommy Lee Jones: What is the movie about?
Susan: It’s a cartoon called Speed Racer which they’re now making into a movie. What the stories about is John Goodman and I are mom and pops and he makes racing cars and it’s about the corruption of sports by corporations and of course while we were doing it all these horrible things were happening in the sports world – including the racing world. It’s all about cheating and betting and how things are fixed and everything else, but it’s also about family values and pancakes are love.
Q: There is a lot of talk that it might be rated G? Are they still going for that?
Once again it seems that the Wachowski Brothers are going to push the envelope of special effects even further and I cannot wait!