Metallica Through the Never showcases Metallica, one of the most popular and influential rock bands in history, in a way that they’ve never been seen before. Filmmaker Nimród Antal has created a 3D motion picture event that provides a visceral cinematic experience that marries spectacular live performance footage of the band’s most iconic songs with a narrative story about a young roadie (played by Dane DeHaan) sent on an urgent mission, during the band’s live set, all while playing at a sold-out arena on the most elaborate concert stage ever built.
During their first appearance at Comic-Con to debut footage of the film, the band also took time out to speak to the press. In this exclusive interview with Collider, drummer Lars Ulrich and bass player Robert Trujillo, along with producer Charlotte Huggins, talked about what this film adds to the Metallica experience that a fan doesn’t get, just by going to one of the band’s concerts, how important it was to find a director and an actor that were as passionate about the music as the band is, what the biggest challenges were in tackling this project, the complications with editing it all together, and keeping things fresh and interesting, after being a band for 32 years. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
ROBERT TRUJILLO: Well, there is a narrative. There’s a thread. There’s a whole other surrealistic journey and imagery. That is the key ingredient in this film. We’re performing well. It sounds killer. The impact of the stage, and all the stuff that’s happening with that is incredible, but at the same time, you’ve got this other side to this journey, which is what (director) Nimród Antal created. And then, there’s what you see in Dane DeHaan, and everything that goes with that. You can compare it to things, like Mad Max or Fight Club. It’s hard to pinpoint, but it really works. It was trial and error. For Nimród to have taken on the undertaking of creating a story with a thread, and marry it to our music and our performance, is a huge challenge. A lot of directors thought, “This is nuts! I’m not taking this on!” He had the passion and drive to do that.
LARS ULRICH: What Metallica always tries to do, as we go around and play a lot of the same cities, over and over again, year after year, is to give a different experience. We try to never play the same venues, or if we play indoors, we’ll play outdoors, and all that type of stuff. It’s always about just trying to do a different kind of experience. This movie will hopefully add to that variable of different experiences. Some Kind of Monster, even though it’s obviously very difficult for us to watch, was an interesting experience. We always look for creative outlets and creative endeavors that are unusual. After 32 years, we just don’t want to get stuck in the grind of doing a record, every three years. So, I can guarantee you that nobody has ever seen a film quite like this, and we’re proud of that. The Metallica fans and the people that are really, really passionate about what we do have never seen Metallica quite presented in this light, so that’s pretty exciting.
CHARLOTTE HUGGINS: In the course of making this movie, I got to see nine concerts, over the period of about a month and a half. We rehearsed in Mexico City, in front of about 40,000 people. Those were interesting rehearsals. And then, we shot just steady-cam in Edmonton and we shot the full movie in Vancouver. By the end of it, I really had a sense of the concert-in-venue experience, and the movie is so much fun because you get that bigness since it’s 3D and it’s giant screen with the IMAX thing, but then you get to get really close. The band really wanted shots where you see from their perspective, out to their fans. You get to be on stage and see what it looks like to look out. It’s actually really a connected experience.
TRUJILLO: Oh, absolutely! That really helps because that means that they’re in it for the right reasons and their heart is in the right place. It’s not easy to get into a situation like this, especially if you don’t embrace the music. That’s half the battle, I think. Nimród understood that, and Dane loves the music, so it works. You get into a situation like this, where you’re taking on a film, it’s Metallica being creative again and stepping outside our comfort zone, in this uncharted territory. We say it’s an edge-of-your-seat Metallica existence. My first gig with Metallica was at San Quentin State Penitentiary. Over ten years later, now we’re making this multi-million dollar beast of a film. We don’t know what’s gonna happen. Hopefully, everyone loves it and it does well, and it ears its stripes for the future.
Charlotte, a concert movie is hard enough on its own, as is a feature film, but you’ve married the two together. What were the biggest challenges in tackling this project, as a producer?
HUGGINS: That was what was exciting to me, to be honest with you. Doing a concert movie, by the way, is extremely difficult, especially a movie like this where their stage is in the round. In the round, the nature of it is like a puzzle. If you put a camera here, you’re going to be looking at another camera. So, we spent months and months and months, working with their stage crew to figure out where to place the cameras. Eventually, the puzzle pieces came together. And then, you have a three-week night shoot, that’s very complicated with lots of stunt work and pyro work. It was a pretty complicated, daunting task. We had to make it seem all of a piece, and yet not. Dane plays Trip in the movie, and Trip is a roadie for the band who’s on his own journey. So, there’s a balance. It was a complicated process. And then, you get it to the editing room and you go, “Oh, my god!” I think it came out pretty well.
HUGGINS: It was really super complicated. It took a lot longer than we’d planned. That’s where the band was so helpful. They understood the creative process and, unlike perhaps a studio movie where they have a schedule, this is their movie. They wanted to get it right, and they really supported us, in that process.
Is it bizarre to see yourselves in 3D?
ULRICH: Over the years, it’s almost like you get a third-person relationship with it. You can find so many faults, the minute you start looking at it like that. It’s like, “Oh, my god, look at my receding hairline! Oh, my god, I’m five pounds overweight!” You know what I mean? So, I have the ability to compartmentalize all that stuff. I don’t get very insecure about that. It’s not a waste of time, but you just deal with it. You can’t put too much emotion into it. I haven’t seen the film on an IMAX screen yet. That’s gonna be pretty trippy. I’ll be like, “Look, there I am, 30 feet tall.” It’s fun. The whole thing is a little surreal. We appreciate the fact and revel in the fact that we can make movies. We appreciate the fact that we can be autonomous. We don’t have to take financial help. It’s pretty cool that we can just live in our own little bubble and do all these crazy things. I guess that seeing yourself on a screen is something that you get used to. Let’s face it, these days, there’s really nothing that you do that doesn’t get filmed.
ULRICH: Well, we have the luxury of just marching to our own tune and going all over the place. I think Metallica lives in this little bubble. We just do our own thing. We’re not part of any trends or waves or fads. We can just do our own thing, all the time. It’s a great luxury. I don’t think we were really appreciative of it until recently, and really understood that it is what keeps us alive. It’s great to be able to have the freedom to run around and do all this crazy stuff, and at all cost, avoid making another record, just to piss our managers off.
Metallica Through the Never opens exclusively in IMAX 3D on September 27th, and in additional theaters on October 4th.