James Gray Reveals the Many Challenges of Making ‘The Lost City of Z’

     April 13, 2017

With The Lost City of Z opening in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and expanding nationwide April 21st, I recently sat down with writer-director James Gray to talk about the making of the film. During the interview, he revealed why it was hard to get financing, the logistical challenges of making the film, why they shot on film, the challenges of trying to develop the footage in a London lab, what he learned from friends and family screenings, how even small edits can have a big impact, and more. In addition, Gray confirms that Ad Astra is his next film and it starts shooting this summer with Brad Pitt.


Image via Amazon Studios

If you’re not familiar with The Lost City of Z, the film is based on David Grann‘s best-selling book, “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon”, and it tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages”, the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.

Loaded with exceptional performances, breathtaking cinematography, and a fantastic script, I absolutely loved the film and strongly recommend checking it out when it’s playing near you. It’s definitely one of my favorite films of 2017. For more on The Lost City of Z, you can read Chris Cabin’s glowing review.


Image via Amazon Studios

Check out what James Gray had to say in the video above and below is a listing of what we talked about followed by some images from the film.

James Gray:

  • How tough was it to get financing and a green light? Talks about the ambiguous ending being an issue for financers.
  • Talks about the logistically challenge of making the film.
  • Talks about shooting The Lost City of Z on film and how he isn’t sure they could have made it with digital cameras.
  • Reveals what they had to do with the film stock to get it developed in London and how 3 days of footage were lost.
  • How the audience notices when you shoot on film.
  • What did he learn from friends and family screenings that impacted the finished film?
  • Talks about a change he made in the editing process for Lost City of Z.
  • Confirms Ad Astra is his next film and it starts shooting this summer with Brad Pitt.

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