Director Jaume Collet-Serra Talks NON-STOP, Shooting on the Same Set for 40 Days, Crafting the Action Sequences, and More

     June 15, 2014


Jaume Collet-Serra keeps audiences on the edge of their seats in his air terror action thriller, Non-Stop, directed from a screenplay by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle and now on Blu-ray and DVD.  Liam Neeson stars as a troubled U.S. Air Marshal who finds himself in a race again time to save a plane full of passengers when a mysterious villain onboard threatens their transatlantic flight with anonymous texts.  The film also features Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o.

At the recent press day held at Air Hollywood, the L.A.-based aviation studio, I sat down with Collet-Serra to discuss his fifth movie.  The Spanish filmmaker revealed why he enjoyed the challenge of making a film that takes place almost entirely on a plane, how he wanted it to be different from previous disaster airplane movies, why he preferred shooting on film instead of digitally, his approach to creating exciting action sequences, what it was like working on the same set for 40 days, and what he’s excited for audiences to see on the Blu-ray/DVD.  Hit the jump to read the interview. 

non-stop-blu-rayCollider:  What was the appeal of shooting a thriller where almost all the action takes place on a plane?

JAUME COLLET-SERRA:  For me, it was the challenge of doing a movie that is in one location.  Usually, there are a few scripts obviously always going around with stories that happen in one location, but I think this was particularly interesting because the environment itself is very dangerous.  If something wrong happens in that environment, then the stakes are very big.  But I wanted to move away from the disaster airplane movies that we have seen in the past and do something that was more mysterious, and delay until the end the resolution of the mystery, and then have to deal with the plane itself.

Can you talk about your decision to shoot on film vs. digitally?  Would shooting digitally have made it any easier in terms of your camera and lighting set-ups when you’re working in such confined space?

COLLET-SERRA:  Easier?  (Laughs)  Nothing is easier.  Shooting digitally would not have been easier.  Cameras are the same size.  I always shoot on film unless I have a reason not to, which I haven’t had yet.  I just know film better, and I think probably one of the things that helps shooting on film is the fact that we built this plane from scratch.  It’s not a real plane.  It’s a plane that is made out of plastic, so film is able to disguise that.  You don’t want something that’s going to be super, super sharp and you want to have all the help that you can get to create the illusion, and film has always helped in that sense.  I think video is very useful, but it’s very useful when you want a certain reality.  Here, I think the film helped us disguise things a little better.

How do you go about creating non-stop, exciting action sequences in a film like this?

COLLET-SERRA:  I just think about it.  (Laughs)  You really have to think about it.  You cannot improvise.  You have to think of each stage of the movie and how it progresses, get into the state of mind of the character, and then match the camera to that, and keep making it tighter and tighter and crazier and crazier so people don’t get bored.  You know you cannot do a similar shot that you did at the beginning of the movie at the end.  You have to offer sort of an evolution visually and do things like you’ve never seen before, like a fight between two men in a toilet on an airplane which was very exciting.

non-stop-liam-neeson-2What was it like shooting on the same set for 40 days?  Were there any advantages such as being able to do quick pick up shots if you discovered you needed something more?

COLLET-SERRA:  No, it’s the opposite.  It really messes with your mind, because you’ve done that scene in that same seat, and you need to find another way to do it that is more interesting.  I think it’s a challenge.  It’s fine obviously, as experience will tell you, yes, if you are in the same place, you can pick up shots.  But what shots?  You’re not going to pick up the same shot if it’s something you’ve already done.  These days in movies you can always come back to a location or do an insert or do something, so that’s not even an issue any more.  But coming back every day to the same plane, it messes with your head.

What are you exciting for audiences to see on the Blu-ray/DVD coming out June 10th?  Will there be any deleted scenes?

COLLET-SERRA:  No, there’s not.  We just shot what we shot and that’s what’s in the movie.  (Laughs) There are a couple of featurettes that tell you about the design of the plane and how we designed the story a little bit, so it’s fun.  It’s fun stuff.

Note:  The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray, DVD, DIGITAL HD with Ultra Violet.

Bonus Features Exclusive to the Blu-ray:

Non-Stop Action – How do you create exciting and original action on a 20’ by 30’ set the shape of a tube?  Director Jaume Collet-Serra, stunt co-coordinator Mark Vanselow, producer Joel Silver, and star Liam Neeson discuss the film’s visceral action sequences.

Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features:

Suspense at 40,000 Feet – Journey behind the scenes with Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, director Jaume Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver as they discuss the making of Non-Stop and the film’s suspenseful story.

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