Read or Listen to the YES MAN Press Conference with Producers David Heyman, Richard Zanuck and director Peyton Reed

     December 17, 2008




Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub





Opening this Friday is the new Jim Carey comedy “Yes Man”. In the film, Jim stars as Carl Allen, a guy whose life is going nowhere—the operative word being “no”—until he signs up for a self-help program based on one simple covenant: say yes to everything…and anything. Unleashing the power of “YES” begins to transform his life in unexpected ways, getting him promoted at work and opening the door to a new romance. But his willingness to embrace every opportunity might just become too much of a good thing.


Anyhow, I recently participated in a press conference with Producers David Heyman, Richard Zanuck and director Peyton Reed and the transcript is below. As always, you can either read the transcript or listen to the audio by clicking here.



Finally, if you want to watch some movie clips from “Yes Man”, click here.





HOW MUCH INPUT FROM JIM FOR SOME OF THE IDEAS IN THE FILM?



REED. Jim’s a hermit. We didn’t see or hear from him until the day before shooting, so anything he told you is completely false. Strike it from the record. Jim was obviously very involved from the beginning and we all worked together when we were writing and we were doing a movie where a guy says yes to life, so the possibilities were literally infinite in terms of what we could do with that concept. So I think we all brought a lot to this story in terms of where this path of “yes” could lead him. A lot of things we were writing, we were looking at YouTube, and would see something like the skating thing, and that made its way into the movie. One of the things I’m pleased about is that it was a very collaborative effort in terms of where to take this movie. One of the things that was important to me and to Jim about this movie was to really ground it in some kind of reality. It’s not a movie that’s a magical conceit movie. It’s not magical realism. It’s just about a guy who makes a choice to adopt this philosophy. And part of that to me was setting it in a neighborhood, and so it’s a neighborhood I’m very familiar with, that area, and I just liked the idea of putting Jim’s character, Carl, into that neighborhood because it felt like a relatively un-filmed part of Los Angeles and there was a lot of visual opportunity there, so as we started writing the movie, we started to set things — we looked at the Hollywood Bowl, the Griffith Observatory and things like the Big Foot Lodge, Elysium Park and all these areas that really I hadn’t seen on film that much and Space Land as well . . . .so for me, it was one of the exciting things about the movie, because it’s an area that’s my neighborhood, and I really was happy to put it in the movie.



EVER HAVE TO BRING JIM DOWN A BIT AND WHAT IS THAT LIKE WITH JIM CARREY?



REED. Well I think it’s interesting that in this movie, way before we started shooting any film, Jim and I talked a lot about what we wanted the movie to be and what we didn’t want it to be, and I think we were both in synch about his character and how grounded . . . . Jim really reined himself in a lot in the movie. So I think it was important for him — it was the first comedy he’d done in a few years, and he really wanted to put a different spin on it. He wanted it to be a Jim Carrey studio comedy but he also wanted it to be a little more grounded and based in reality, so it was something we both had in mind throughout the process of making the movie, so there were actually times when Jim reined himself in and I encouraged him to bring it up a little bit. So it was kind of — there was a lot of back and forth between the two of us. But I think we were all mindful of keeping that character in balance.


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ZOOEY’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE MUSIC?



REED. In casting Zooey, she’s an amazing voice and can sing, and we wanted to make that apart of the movie. So Jonathan Karp, who’s the music supervisor, found this band, these girls, Von Iva, from San Francisco, and we paired them with Zooey and they spent rehearsal time, and they wrote these songs. And their main direction was to write a series of songs that are about these past sort of failed relationships, and . . . we want to know in that scene, when Karl goes to Space Land, that, when she’s performing on stage, that’s where she really reveals herself and puts herself out there. And they really had fun with that, and I’m really pleased with the outcome, because to me I find it funny, but there’s also that sort of strangely emotional bearing of her soul that happens on stage. We would also get these clips off YouTube and MySpace of there bands, and Zooey’s also really into that indie rock music scene, and there were a lot of bands we had seen at Space Land and . . . saw these clips and said, look how elaborate the costumes are for this band, and look at the stage presence here and the . . . response between these two girls, so we took little pieces of that and constructed this weird electronic new age disco band.



GIVEN THE RECESSION A GOOD TIME TO RELEASE A COMEDY. DOES THE ECONOMY AFFECT THE KIND OF MOVIES YOU’LL BE WANTING TO MAKE IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?



ZANUCK. Well, I think anytime you make a good comedy is a good time, and because of the situation in the country and the world, this happens to be a better time than we would like to release a comedy. And I’ve noticed in the screenings we’ve had that there’s an eagerness on the part of the audience to laugh, because their day probably hasn’t been filled with that much laughter. So as far as the future is concerned, as I say, it’s always a good time if you have a funny premise and a star like Jim Carrey. That will always in most cases work. Right now I think is a good time and I think you’ve seen that with “Four Christmases” doing the kind of business it did last weekend. You see an example of audience eagerness to laugh.



MR ZANUCK, YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE CAREER. WAS WONDERING HOW YOU THINK MOVIES HAVE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS . . . A JOKE ABOUT ORAL SEX WOULDN’T HAVE FLOWN 30 YEARS AGO IN A COMEDY . . .



ZANUCK. I don’t know. You’re talking to the man who made “Myra Breckenridge”, also “Portnoy’s Complaint”. You’re probably too young to remember those. Portnoy’s Complaint was very far out there, and movies have always worked when you have either a funny situation between two or more people or a very dramatic situation. There’s not that much difference. The technology is really where all of the changes have taken place, but the fundamentals of a good story being the basis of every good picture, and really the only basis still remains the rule, more so today, I think, because we’ve unfortunately weaned an audience from birth to kind of mindless movies. It’s our job really to wean them back to the movies that I grew up with and some that I made. Where you really have to think and become involved in the characters and not the dynamics of the explosions and all the rest.



CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MERITS AND PITFALLS OF TRANSFERRING STORY FROM ORIGINAL BRITISH SETTING.



HEYMAN. I think the key, whether you’re transferring or not, in any adaptation is to remember why you are involved or why you are adapting the book itself. So with this book in particular, what drew all of us to the story was the fact that it was his generosity of spirit that is so much a part of Danny Wallace himself and infuses all of his books, but particularly “Yes Man”. So with “Yes Man”, we made the decision to move it across the waters because even actually in the book Danny goes off and journeys around Europe, but the locations were not specific to the story in terms of it being London, it being British. But the spirit was universal. So it felt it was perfectly logical to move it to the United States, where quite frankly there are more big comedy stars and where we would have an opportunity to make a film that might reach an even larger audience than if it had remained in the U.K. I think a conceptual comedy like this works better in this country. “Potter”, there was no way you could move it, because the location and the spirit of it were so British. The themes and the ideas travel way beyond the U.K. but in terms of the British Public School upon which Hogwarts was based, that’s a very British institution.



HOW ARE THE TWO SCREENPLAYS FOR THE LAST POTTER BOOK PROGRESSING?



HEYMAN. It’s one writer, Steve Kloves, and he’s doing a great job. I go back on Friday and we have a meeting about the script. It’s going really well.



WHAT SCENE WAS TOO EXPENSIVE TO DO . . . WHAT ABOUT CARREY ON THE MOTORCYCLE?



REED. The motorcycle? That’s a trade secret. In terms of things we couldn’t afford to do or couldn’t get insurance to do, Jim’s frontal shot, we couldn’t do that. I don’t think there was anything we decided to do that they said, absolutely not, but again the jumping off the bridge was an insurance issue and we had to wait until the last day of the shoot to do it, in case we accidentally killed Jim. But in terms of anything else that was too expensive, I can’t really think of anything that we eliminated. We eliminated plenty of things because they seemed too unfunny or too stupid, but not based on insurance or cost.



TO MR ZANUCK, ABOUT WEANING PEOPLE OFF MINDLESS FILMS, IS THIS A SENTIMENT SHARED BY MANY PEOPLE? DO YOU THINK ANY KIND OF TREND?



ZANUCK. I think it’s a hope, not a trend, because the money is in the big pictures and in the kind of mindless films that I’m referring to. It’s very tough. I had a tough time 12 years ago getting Driving Miss Daisy off the ground. Today, it would be impossible. It would have been impossible to get The Verdict off the ground without Paul Newman obviously, but today without any star, kind of a dramatic piece would be very tough. Because the marketplace, for the very reasons I’ve mentioned — the market out there wants to see the bigger films. It’s the “Harry Potters” of the world, which is an intelligent big picture, but what’s taking the kids to the theatres, luring them in, is a kind of mindless scenario of film, so I think it’s every filmmaker’s dream to go back in time to the real dramatic pieces, the hard-hitting. And you do have those occasionally. I think “Slumdog Millionaire”, which I saw the other day, is an example of a really fine film that says something and is meaningful. But it’s tough to get mass audiences in to those films today.



I’m a very interesting film now, just came from the set. “Alice In Wonderland” with Tim Burton. We’re shooting it in Culver City because of the technology, and we’re almost through with our part of it, which is shooting the live actors. They’ll be animated but it’s the first picture that combines motion capture and live actors and animation all in the same frame and it will be quite amazing and in 3-D.



It’s everything you would imagine. You put Tim Burtoninto a world where his vision can run wild, and you’ll get the result that we’re getting. I mean, when she goes into the rabbit hole, it’s a dream actually, her dream, and it’s anything that comes to her mind and then embellished because we’re very faithful to the Lewis Carroll book. But it’s Tim Burton really being able to crank up his wild imagination. In kind of a dark way too, as the original material was dark and scary.



DID YOU TRY TO TALK CARREY OUT OF THE BUNGEE JUMP?



REED. I think it started when we were working on the script and talked about that idea. One of the first things Jim said was, okay, if we’re doing the bungee jump, I’m doing the jump. No stunt guys, I’m doing the jump . . . he wouldn’t let it go — I’m going to jump off a bridge, regardless of whether you film it or not. Why not just film it and be there while I’m doing it? He wouldn’t let it go, and it became this thing with the studio where there were insurance issues. You’re sending your star off of a bridge. Warner Brothers finally agreed to do it but it had to be the last day of shooting in case Jim died or was injured or something. It made my job a little more difficult because I knew that if Jim actually jumped, we could only do it one time, so I had to make sure that if Jim did this perfect jump, I didn’t miss the shot. So we had six cameras and this elaborate camera move, talking to the camera guys beforehand and doing practice runs. Fortunately we got it and I think there’s real value in seeing the actor do it.



REGARDING ALICE IN 3-D, JAMES CAMERON SAID YESTERDAY HE WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU DECIDED TO SHOOT IT IN 2-D AND CONVERT TO 3-D.



ZANUCK. 3-D cameras are very clumsy, quite frankly, compared to 2-D cameras, and it would have cost a lot more, we would have needed more crew involved. I didn’t see what Cameron said, but I was convinced and so was Tim seeing test after test of pictures that had been released in 3-D, shot in 2-D, and you can’t tell the difference. I would defy Jim Cameron to see the tests I saw and point out which was 2-D and which was 3-D.




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