Last week I was able to speak with director Sylvain White. While most of our conversation is under embargo, I’ve been given permission to post some of what was said. Since Sylvain is currently attached to Frank Miller’s “Ronin” movie, I figured you’d like to hear what he said about his take on the property and where it currently is in development.
According to Sylvain, he’s about to get a new draft of the script and he envisions the film as a “big-budget, big blockbuster.” He went on to say he’d “love to do it in 3D.” For more on the project, click the jump:
Another interesting thing Sylvain told us was if he were to do the project, he doesn’t envision doing it like Zack Snyder did “300” or “Watchmen”. He told us he’d pay homage to the material via “the production design versus the actual frames. The frames in “Ronin” are some beautiful frames, and I would go with some. But what’s beautiful to me about “Ronin” is the production design and the character design and the colors that are used. I think framing – you can frame things with much more depth and beauty on film than you can in a graphic.”
Here’s exactly what he said about “Ronin”:
Question: Are you still looking at “Ronin”?
Sylvain White: Absolutely. It’s still being developed. I just got a new draft a week ago. It’s looking really good and promising. I hope it gets to go.
Q: If “Ronin” was your next project, does it concern you at all to go from one graphic novel project to another?
Sylvain: Well, you always worry about being pin holed. I haven’t been yet. You always worry about that, no matter which genre you do. Luckily for me so far, every time I’ve done a movie it’s been a completely different genre. If I went to ‘Ronin,’ it would be a very dark, futuristic, sci-fi film, so I’m not worried.
Q: If you happened to do “Ronin”, it has a lot of comic book fans who are reverent to the material. How much would that affect the way in which you stick to shots? Would you do it like Zack [Snyder] did with ‘300’?
Sylvain: The fortunate thing is that ‘Ronin’ is some Frank’s earlier work. What’s great and what for me works in the graphic novel, aesthetically-speaking, is the design of Aquarius…the design of New York. So I would pay homage to him more in the production design versus the actual frames. The frames in “Ronin” are some beautiful frames, and some I would go with, but what’s beautiful to me about “Ronin” is the production design and the character design and the colors that are used. I think framing – you can frame things with much more depth and beauty on film than you can in a graphic. Replicating frames…that’s a different language. You want to always stay true to the graphic novel, but you’re watching a different medium. You never want to remind the audience that they’re watching a graphic novel or something from a graphic novel source. You just want them to watch a great movie. And if they know it’s based on a graphic novel, awesome. And if you make the fans happy because you paid good tribute to the source material, awesome. I don’t think you make fans happy by just replicating frames. What they want to see is that you stayed true to the story, true to the characters and true to the design.
Q: Are you still trying to do “Castlevania”?
Sylvain: No. “Castlevania” is a project that I developed for a couple of years at Universal. We got to a really good point, then the division of Universal folded, and I jumped on this movie. Now it’s set up somewhere else, and I believe that someone else got attached. It’s one of my favorite video games, and I’m a huge video game player. I played that game for 25 years, and I loved developing it. I almost feel like I’ve already shot it because I was so into it for a while. I think it’ll be a great movie if they do it right.
Q: Thinking of “Ronin”, that’s a project that’s been in development for a long time. With something like that, I don’t know what you’re thinking in terms of budget. Is that sort of a big summer event film?
Sylvain: Yeah. It’s a big-budget, big blockbuster take on it. I’d love to do it in 3D. I think it’d be ridiculous and amazing. That’s an additional budget issue, but it’s the kind of movie that would be great. I think it’d make a brilliant video game as well – something along the lines of “Assassin’s Creed” but from a first-person perspective. I think it’s just a great property and a great concept. It’s got so many ideas in it in terms of commentary and philosophy. Frank Miller is a genius when it comes to that. It took so long because the source material is so complex. It’s very difficult, and it’s not linear, and it doesn’t really fit into a film format off the bat. It’s not a straight adaptation like “300” was or even “Watchmen”. It’s not as simple. Zack’s going to kill me. [Laughs] But I think with “Ronin” we need a little bit of streamlining, otherwise it’s too esoteric. You need a little bit of streamlining, but the story and the characters, if I get to do that movie, will all be there. I’m the guy who wants to respect the authors and the source material as a fan of graphic novels who grew up reading them whether it be in Europe or here. It’s something that needs to be done right, and it hasn’t really been done right.
Look for the rest of the interview when the embargo lifts.