Gil Kenan Exclusive Video Interview – CITY OF EMBER

     August 20, 2008

I had never met director Gil Kenan before sitting down to interview him at this year’s Comic-Con, but I’d heard a lot about him. I’d heard he was a very enthusiast, that he looked kind of young (he is only just past 30), and that it’d be a very good interview no matter what we talked about. And you know…everything I’d heard was true.

But let me back up a second.

Opening this October is Gil’s second movie and it’s called “City of Ember.” The film should be on your radar just because Bill Murray’s in it…but if that’s not enough…the film is based on the best-selling novel by Jeanne Duprau and it’s script was written by Caroline Thompson (“Edward Scissorhands”). So…you more interested now?

Anyway, with that kind of pedigree, it’s no wonder that Fox Walden is excited about the property and it’s also why they pushed it very hard at this year’s Comic-Con, even offering selected journalists a ride from L.A. to San Diego in a City of Ember train! So when they offered me a chance to sit down with Gil for a pretty extensive interview, I jumped at the chance.

Thankfully, he was incredibly nice and we spoke not only about “City of Ember,” but about a ton of other subjects. As always, I listed what we talked about above each part.

Finally, before getting to the interview, here’s the official synopsis in case you want to know more about the film.

For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights – underground. Built as a refuge for humanity and powered by a massive generator – this city will only sustain for 200 years. Now Ember is falling into darkness as the generator fails, and the dazzling lights begin to flicker and fade.

Despite growing concern for the future of their beloved city, Ember’s students find themselves confronting the next step in their lives. A rite of passage for all graduates, it is Assignment Day, the day on which the Mayor himself will stand before the graduating students as they choose, by lottery, how they will spend their lives working for their society. Lina, praying with all her might to be a messenger, is appalled to be assigned to the Pipeworks, the vast network of pipes underneath the city. Her classmate, Doon Harrow, who wants more than nothing else to work in the Generator, panics when he pulls the messenger assignment. The Pipeworks isn’t the Generator, but it is close enough and Doon offers to swap assignments with Lina. She is thrilled and grateful and eagerly changes jobs. Thus, an unlikely friendship is born, one that, as it blossoms, will change the course of all the lives in Ember.

Lina takes easily to the job of messenger and finds herself zipping all over Ember, delivering important missives to even more important people, including the mayor himself. At home she cares for her aging and forgetful grandmother, and her baby sister Poppy. When an old metal box is discovered in their closet, Lina’s grandmother is overjoyed. Completely sure that the contents of the box are of the utmost importance, she is completely bereft of any memory as to why. Lina manages to jimmy the lock open, and discovers some cryptic and decrepit papers inside. Unable to piece the papers together, Lina resolves to decipher their meaning and enlists Doon’s help.

As blackouts in the city become more frequent, Lina and Doon realize that the information inside that box could lead to the salvation of their city and their fellow citizens. Now racing against the clock, the two follow the clues, cleverly maneuvering around corrupt politicians and unsavory characters hoping to keep them from their goal: restoring the light in the CITY OF EMBER.

Gil Kenan – Part 1

  • We talk about Radio Shack…as my microphone is a Radio Shack mic

  • How did he first get involved with Radio Shack and the Moog synthesizer

  • He talks about City of Ember – the story (he gets a cell phone call….listen for ringer…)

  • I ask if City of Ember will be The Goonies of the next generation

  • Bill Murray casting – how did he get him (listen for the train….)

  • Is it intimidating to direct Bill Murray and the rest of the older cast

Gil Kenan – Part 2

·How challenging was it to pick this as his second project

  • What was it like to film in Europe and what were the biggest challenges

  • With the dollar being worthless, how did that effect production

  • Has he finished the movie yet

  • Test screenings?

  • Running time – 1 hour 30 minutes or so

  • What can people look forward to on the DVD/Blu-ray

  • What does he have coming up

  • After much prodding… he tells me the project is one of those high concept summer tentpoles….

  • What did he learn from Monster House and City of Ember that can help him in the future

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