UPDATE: Deadline was just emailed this reaction from Harvey Weinstein: “It is an incredible honor to be recognized by your peers. The PGA is made up of all the people I admire and respect. I congratulate Tom Hooper, our …
OSCAR: Behind-The-Seams With Costume Designers For ‘Alice In Wonderland’, ‘Black Swan’, ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘The Tempest’
(Freelancer Elizabeth Snead is helping Deadline’s awards coverage)
Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland:
Previous films: Won two Oscars for Chicago and Memoirs Of A Geisha. Six Oscar nominations for Sweeney Todd, Nine, Lemony Snicket, Sleepy Hollow, Beloved, Little Women.
Behind-the-seams: “The Hatter’s look was based on the real hatters who used mercury in their trade which poisoned them and made them go mad. It also caused the hair to turn a very fried red color and their skin to get very pale…
“We wanted the Mad Hatter’s bow tie droopy but when he cheered up, such as when Alice came around, he perked up and his tie would also get happy. It was controlled by Johnny so he could make it happen when he felt it…
“We got very lucky for Johnny’s hat, I found some laser-cut leather in Italy that looked like it had been burned, then re-embroidered with gold thread. Right before we did our first fitting with him, I thought ‘Oh my God, I can’t figure out how the hat is going to look without the hair.’ Those pictures can never see the light of day because we literally stuffed a clown wig in the hat. We were dying laughing because he looked like Bozo…
“Shoes are a passion of mine and I knew that because Johnny walked on a table that we would see them. So we etched subversive things on the shoes like ‘Down with Bloody Big Head’. You can’t really read it but I love doing all those details. It makes me laugh and it’s part of character building…
“All Johnny’s tools of his trade — scissors, threads, thimbles, a pin cushion — were period items I found in flea markets on Portobello Road in London and online…
“Johnny has it in his contract that he keeps his wardrobe. He has an archive of all his costumes from all his films and people who catalog and preserve them. He loves that part of the process and he always has.”
Amy Westcott, Black Swan
Previous films: The Wrestler
Behind-the-seams: “It was Natalie who recommended Rodarte. It was important to her and Darren asked me if it was OK. I met with Laura and Kate Mulleavy and I saw their feathered Vulture collection (I think it was Spring 2010). It seemed very appropriate. We communicated using Skype because they were in LA and we were shooting in New York…
“The biggest key for my research was watching actual classes and talking to actual dancers at the American Ballet Theatre and City Ballet. I couldn’t take photos but they allowed me to sit in and made sketches and talked to the girls afterwards. I got to see what was realistic and functional, how they put on and took off layers…
“All the lead characters are based on characters in the ballet. Nina, the White Swan, wears pale colors. When Nina loses her innocence, she starts to dress a little darker. By the end of the film, she’s all in black for the first time…
“Nina’s sheer shrug was to cover the scars on her back. We looked everywhere for the right one. We cut the feet off tights and she put her arms through the legs, something dancers do. It was authentic but was also important for the character. And I love the scene where she’s breaking in her shoes. It shows the violence of this art form that looks so beautiful and graceful.”
Louise Stjernsward, Made in Dagenham
Previous films: Stealing Beauty, Sexy Beast, The Dreamers.
Behind-the-seams: “It was in the script that it had to be a Biba dress and two girls had to wear it and Sally was quite a bit smaller than Rosamund. I tried to find an original but didn’t. Then I bought a book about Biba, which was such a great shop and so inexpensive, and I saw the iconic mage of this dress. I had two made and made Sally’s a little big on her to make credible that she’d borrowed it from Ros…
“I watched a lot of footage of the real women, and the film is slightly glamorized. Sally wanted to keep her character very low key in the beginning. She’s a working girl with two kids, so it’s clothes from that era but practical, simple. As her confidence grows, she gets a bit more stylish but then she also had less money so I tried to do it with color…
“Barbara Castle [Labour Cabinet minister] actually wore a white blouse and skirt to that famous meeting with the women. I tried that but it didn’t suit Miranda and she didn’t feel right in it so we got the dresses and little suits instead, mostly sober colors, even one made of crimplene, a popular but ghastly thick, wash and wear polyester….
“We’d bought tons of period stuff from Portobello Road and vintage markets, irrespective of size, and we’d decide which outfits were right for main characters and took the rest for the crowd scenes.”
Jenny Beavan, The King’s Speech
Past Awards: Won an Oscar for A Room With Aa View. Nominated seven times for The Bostonians, Maurice”, Howards End, The Remains Of The Day, Sense And Sensibility, Anna And The King, Gosford Park.
Behind-the-seams: “We had an incredibly short prep time, just five and a half weeks. So thank god for the Internet. There is an incredible amount of archival footage online – Pathe News — of the Duke and Duchess of York. I had no idea and I was very grateful. We also got the spirit in family photographs that you can find as well as books and souvenir albums from the coronation…
“The Queen mother loved fur. She had fur trim on practically everything. Not to get PETA riled up, we used very old furs, nothing new. Even though she wore a lot of blues and mauves, the colors were too theatrical on film and too strong on Helena so we used muted softer hues…
“As for those royal uniforms, they don’t exist in costume houses. We found a belt there, an eaglet here, epaulets in a vintage market. We made the neck orders and that interesting necklace Colin wears. Colin was always anxious to look as thin as possible. The real Duke was terribly slight. Colin is not as slight so he didn’t wear the jacket under the topcoat most of the time and we got away with it because of the scarf…
“I wanted to put Geoffrey in more sport coats and trousers but he felt Lionel Logue would put on his smart suit when he knew the Duke was coming…
“One of Guy Pearce’s Duke of Windsor suits was an original from the period. It was a bit moth-eaten, so we did some good darning. I’m terribly fond of Guy’s suit at Balmoral. I found a short length of checked tweed at a Cosgrove Costume House, just enough to do a jacket and trouser. The fabric truly was a gift from the costume gods.”
Sandy Powell, The Tempest
Past Awards: Three Oscar wins for The Young Victoria, The Aviator, Shakespeare In Love. Also Oscar nominations for Mrs. Henderson Presents, Gangs Of New York, Velvet Goldmine, and Orlando.
Behind-the-seams: “Julie wanted the characters that lived on the island to look like they were part of it. So that’s how it started, looking at images of a place (Lanai) I had never been too. It was quite extraordinary, after making some of Helen’s costumes, going there and seeing them in situ, in the environment…
“In the script, Prospera’s magic cloak is described as being made of ‘shards of glass and light.’ Julie talked about obsidian and that’s when the volcanic lava images came into play. It’s truly an experimental piece, more like a sculpture than clothing. And even though the painted plastic pieces were thin and light, when there are 3,000 of them, it was quite heavy. It was nicknamed ‘The Monster’ by my crew. It had to be carried up and down the mountain like a dead body. During the storm scene, Helen had these powerful wind machines on her, so these plastic things would ping off all the time. We all had to stand by with glue guns, constantly repairing it during shooting…”
“The idea was for Prospera to look androgynous. Her clothing had to be practical and also have this feeling of coming from the landscape. The shapes were inspired by Japanese fashion designers. The colors are natural, indigo, the color of the sky and sea. The browns and sands work with the land, almost as a kind of camouflage…
“Julie wanted the court costumes to look like those in Goya or Velasquez’s paintings, very dark but also metallic. It did come out looking very Jacobean or Elizabethan. So to avoid it looking too period, I went with zippers instead of jewels or braid. They were all functional zippers.”
Nicoletta Massone, Barney’s Version
The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Algeria, “Hors la Loi” (“Outside the Law”), Rachid Bouchareb, director;
Canada, “Incendies,” Denis Villeneuve, director;
Denmark, “In a Better World,” Susanne Bier, director;
Greece, “Dogtooth,” Yorgos Lanthimos, director;
Japan, “Confessions,” Tetsuya Nakashima, director;
Mexico, “Biutiful,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director;
South Africa, “Life, above All,” Oliver Schmitz, director;
Spain, “Tambien la Lluvia” (“Even the Rain”), Iciar Bollain, director;
Sweden, “Simple Simon,” Andreas Ohman, director
Few actresses move from TV’s 90210 and the film The Next Karate Kid to become a 2-time Best Actress Oscar winner for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby. Unless you’re Hilary Swank. Though recent films which she has starred in were unsuccessful at the box office, some found favor with the critics. That has also been the case with Fox Searchlight’s Conviction. Swank portrays Betty Anne Waters, a Massachusettes wife and mother who put herself through high school, college, and law school in order to free her wrongfully imprisoned brother. A surprise SAG nomination for Swank for Outstanding Female Actor In A Leading Role has resulted in a stepped-up Oscar campaign:
DEADLINE: In Conviction you play another real-life person.
SWANK: You know when you take on a role and it’s challenging and you think, “Oh, am I going to be able to do this?” – which I do every single time. I think, “Can I do this? Can I do this?” And it scares me in a deep place – which is part of my ride, too. I like that. I’m an adrenaline junkie. But then you add the layer of it being a real person and how much that person means to me. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if she saw the movie and said, “You didn’t get it, and that’s not how it happened.” And everyone felt that way on this movie and everyone really stepped up.
Beverly Hills, CA — The 5,755 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must return their completed Oscar nominations ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, January 14. Ballots received after that deadline will not be counted.
In the majority of
Category placement is always a delicate dance come Oscar time. In 1966, Walter Matthau won the Supporting Actor Oscar for The Fortune Cookie even though he was on equal footing with co-star Jack Lemmon. In 1981, Susan Sarandon admitted to voting for herself in Supporting for Atlantic City only to surprisingly land in lead. Patricia Neal took Best Actress for Hud in 1963 even though she was really playing a supporting role. Anthony Hopkins could have gone for support in 1991’s Silence Of The Lambs but was campaigned instead for lead and won. George Clooney was originally going for lead in 2005’s Syriana, where he almost certainly would have lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote, but strategically dropped to support where he also became an Oscar winner. And, in the most complex of scenarios possible, Catherine Zeta Jones went strategically for support in Chicago while her equal co-star Renee Zellweger had Best Actress to herself but lost to Nicole Kidman, who won for The Hours in a role that could have been classified as supporting but that’s where her co-star Julianne Moore competed so as to avoid cannibalizing her own chances for lead actress in Far From Heaven.
Get the picture?
Until 1936 in Academy Awards history, featured actors either competed alongside stars or not at all. Since then, the Supporting actor and actress categories have tried to make distinctions between themselves and lead, although it seems every year the line gets blurred. It was no exception in 2010 with so-called leading roles being campaigned for Supporting in some instances to give them a better shot at a nomination or avoid competing with co-stars. Which is perefectly acceptable since the Academy actors branch leaves it up to voting members to determine the appropriate category for each performance. Sometimes this results in split votes. Often in surprises. So here are this year’s prime contenders by alphabetical order:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) – Bale’s dynamic turn as crack addicted Dicky Ward has drawn top reviews and made him a heavyweight contender not just for a nomination, but also the win. His dramatic weight loss and surprising performance is just the kind that attracts Oscar.
Jim Broadbent, Another Year (Sony Pictures Classics) – This previous Supporting Actor winner (Iris) retains his usual class and dignity, delivering another quietly effective performance for frequent director Mike Leigh. But that may not be enough to overcome flashier competition.
Pierce Brosnan, The Ghost Writer (Summit Entertainment) – Brosnan gets a real chance to stretch his image and show his chops under the direction of Roman Polanski. The film’s February release doesn’t help being remembered against a tough field of contenders.
Vincent Cassel, Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) – This French star gets a juicy, hard-edged role in an American film and runs with it. The fact that he is also being campaigned in the lead category for his mesmerizing two-part Cesar award -inning portrayal in Mesrine won’t hurt his chances.
Matt Damon, True Grit (Paramount) – Damon is an Academy favorite. Under the guidance of the Coen Brothers, he gets right the role singer Glen Campbell screwed up in the 1969 version. But he’s playing second fiddle to Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges more likely to earn nods.
Michael Douglas, Wall Street Money Never Sleeps (20th Century Fox) – Douglas revisits the Gordon Gekko role 23 years later and has the industry rooting for him to overcome his bout with cancer. He could become the first actor to win two Oscars for playing the same character.
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network (Sony Pictures) – Garfield was impressive in two distinct dramas this fall, the other being the little-seen Never Let Me Go. Plus he’s the new Spider-Man. But his role here is earning Oscar talk with Golden Globe and CCMA nominations.
Ed Harris, The Way Back (Newmarket) – A four-time Oscar nominee, this well-liked veteran is overdue, and his physically challenging role is first-rate work which his peers expect from him. But the film’s year-end qualifying run and lack of marketing funds may dim his chances.
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone (Roadside Attractions) – Although Jennifer Lawrence seems to get all the attention, nominations for this journeyman actor’s authentic backwoods portrayal from the Spirit Awards and SAG are beginning to make a longshot Oscar nod far more realistic.
Bill Murray, Get Low (Sony Pictures Classics) – Many feel Murray was robbed of the Best Actor Oscar for Lost in Translation and the actors branch might just want to make it up to him by recognizing this nicely-etched performance which scored an Indie Spirit nomination.
Sean Penn, Fair Game (Summit Entertainment) – Penn steals this entertaining true-life political thriller. The role would seem to belong in lead but Summit is hoping the two-time Best Actor might stand a better chance in supporting. Though the movie has faded without much buzz.
Jeremy Renner, The Town (Warner Bros) – With a triple-play of supporting nods from SAG, Golden Globes and CCMAs, Renner has emerged as a very good bet to grab his second consecutive Oscar nomination after first being named last year in the leading actor category.
Sam Rockwell, Conviction (Fox Searchlight) – Rockwell is popular with his fellow actors and long underrated. He won early buzz for his performance but has so far not shown up in many pre-Oscar contests. With lack of recognition by SAG, he is suddenly in an uphill climb.
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right (Focus Features) – Ruffalo worked just six days on this indie dramedy but he obviously did something right to earn SAG, CCMA, and New York Film Critics attention. This lively supporting turn should result in his first career Oscar nomination.
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) – Rush hits it out of the park and gives this very accessible period drama its heart and soul. A former lead actor winner for Shine, Rush is one of the frontrunners to hold Oscars for both lead and supporting roles.
Justin Timberlake, The Social Network (Sony Pictures) – Pop star Justin Timberlake has displayed acting talent before in films like Alpha Dog and his SNL hosting gigs but he is suddenly in the Oscar conversation despite fierce competition from even his own movie.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) – Adams has already landed two Oscar nominations and seems certain for a third in this change-of-pace role as the expletive spewing, tough-as-nails bartender girlfriend of Micky Ward. Voters love to see actors go against type and expertly so.
Ever since the first Best Animated Feature category was included in the Oscars, and Dreamworks’ irreverent Shrek snagged the very first award in 2001, the annual race for top toon has been fiercely competitive. Of course animators were pleased by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ long overdue special recognition. But their worry is that no toon will ever win Best Picture now that the genre has its own prize.
Rich Ross didn’t greenlight Toy Story 3. But the recently promoted Walt Disney Studios chairman understands he has an obligation to the Disney/Pixar toon as if he did. “We’re going for the Best Picture win,” he affirmed. “The reviews have clearly said that it’s the best movie, and it’s the No. 1 box office hit of the year. It’s thrilling that there is a separate category for animation that allows animated movies to be recognized. But for some reason an animated film has never gotten Best Picture. We decided, if not this year, and not this movie, when?”
Toy Story 3 is one of the presumed frontrunners both for Best Animated Feature and Best Picture along with DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon. There have been only two Best Picture nominees ever: 1991’s Beauty And The Beast from Walt Disney Studios and last year’s Up from Disney/Pixar when the list of nominees was expanded from five to 10 for the first time since 1943. Neither won. “As far as Up last year, I think the strategy was you go for Best Picture and as a fallback end up as Best Animated Feature,” recalled Ross. “But with this movie, we wanted to come up with a campaign that kept our aspirations clear but at the same time used a tongue-in-cheek approach.”
To that end, Disney/Pixar has launched an ambitious advertising campaign aimed at Academy members to associate past Best Picture winners with Toy Story 3 by having the toon’s characters enact some iconic images from West Side Story, On The Waterfront, Shakespeare In Love, Titanic, and more. The campaign uses the phrase ’Not Since’ and even has sequels in its sight, mimicking The Godfather 2 and Lord Of The Rings 3 in a not-so-subtle attempt to remind voters that it’s time for another sequel to win. Of course, Ross and his counterpart at DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, have to overcome perceptions by many in the Academy that the Animated Feature category is enough recognition for this art form. But other genres of films like horror (Silence Of The Lambs) broke equally insurmountable barriers in terms of AMPAS perceptions that certain kinds of movies can’t win. “I feel very confident we have a movie everybody loves and I want to make sure with our campaign that people don’t feel the consolation prize is the appropriate prize for a movie like Toy Story 3,” Ross explained.
Jeffrey Katzenberg also makes the case for a toon winning Best Picture by pointing out that the three best reviewed films of the year (if you go by Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer) have been Toy Story 3 (99%) and How To Train Your Dragon (98%), plus Sony Pictures’ live action The Social Network (97%). Dragon producer Bonnie Arnold says about her toon, “It’s just a good movie that is in competition with other good movies, no matter what the medium, whether it’s live action, animation or whatever.” And Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich echoes: “We look at our films like every other film. Yes, it is animated and we’re working in a specific medium. But our approach is very much the same as live action – production design, costume design, casting of actors, scoring, editing. We’re making movies.”
Best Picture aspirations aside, the other frustration for animators is that Academy rules allow only three nominees in Best Animated Feature in any year when there are just 8 to 15 submissions deemed eligible. Sixteen and over qualifiers trigger five nominations, which has happened twice (in 2002 and last year). But on November 15th, the Academy announced that only 15 films were in the animation race this year, even though 2010 was considered an exceptionally strong year for toons. Since two of the nominees are expected to be Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon, only one slot is open.
Here is the shortlist of eligible Best Animated Feature entries in alphabetical order:
ALPHA AND OMEGA (Lionsgate) – If Lady And The Tramp were thrown to the wolves, it might look like this sweet Romeo and Juliet-style toon that only did modest box office business. Against the heavyweights, its prospects of landing a nom are weak.
Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in competition in the Makeup category for the 83rd Academy Awards.
The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Way Back”
On Saturday, January 22, all
The 22nd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is the reigning festival showcase for top foreign films, a sort of Cannes in the desert that takes pride in presenting as many of the official Academy Award Foreign Language entries as possible. This year, Fest director Darryl MacDonald and programmer Helen du Toit managed to corral 40 of the 65 contenders and lured many of their filmmakers to Palm Springs for Q&As and lots of hobnobbing. Producer Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sunshine), who’s on the Executive Committee that selects three of the 9 semi-finalists, told me he came to the desert just to catch up with many of these films. The Fest is like one-stop shopping.
Friday night, I moderated a packed-to-the-rafters turnaway post screening Q&A at the Art Museum with Javier Bardem, the Spanish star of Mexico’s entry Biutiful. (He had the audience roaring with his impressions of Woody Allen who directed him in Vicky Cristina Barcelona). At the Riviera hotel, I met up with Feo Aladag, writer/director of Germany’s powerful Oscar hopeful When We Leave followed by a long chat with the large Italian contingent there who had just screened their entry LaPrima Cosa Bella (aka First Beautiful Thing).
Star Micaela Ramazzotti and director Paola Virzi were excited about the standing ovation their movie received at the Palm Springs High School auditorium. The engaging film also reportedly played very well for the Academy Foreign Language selection committee on December 6th, according to members who told me it drew one of the biggest crowds of the year at those exclusive screenings. Earlier in the year I reported about controversy over its selection instead of the Tilda Swinton starrer, I Am Love among other candidates. But it looks like this could be Italy’s first pic to make the final five since Roberto Begnini’s Life Is Beautiful 12 years ago. Virzi told me he was sorry there was badmouthing about his film which was a big hit in Italy.
Saturday afternoon I caught the intense Romanian entry, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle and later the Q&A with its director Florin Serban. Before the Saturday night main event, the Gala, I met the Barreto clan supporting their entry, Lula, The Son Of Brazil, another movie that generated controversy earlier this season (as reported here) over its Oscar selection by the Brazilian committee. Producer Paula Baretto says it’s her third time in the running.
At the reception before Saturday night’s Gala, Aaron Eckhart told me he had just been asked by Mark Johnson, the Academy’s Foreign Language chair, to serve on the 30-person committee that whittles down the 9 semi-finalists to the final 5 nominees. But it’s a three-day commitment during the weekend of January 20th and he couldn’t find the time. Eckhart was able to present the
Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 scientific and technical achievements represented by 22 individual award recipients will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at the Beverly Wilshire on Saturday, February 12, 2011.
Unlike other Academy Awards
When Inception was released back on July 16th, the strikingly original film shook up a summer marketplace filled with derivative sequels and unfortunate remakes that had critics decrying the creative barrenness of studio films. Which is why writer-director Nolan garnered respect from Hollywood for using his clout from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to film his own long, gestating spec script from an idea that had rattled around in his head for a decade. Inception is a movie with many layers and a dense plot, allowing Nolan to ride a familiar genre but then arrive at a new place. Sure, the box office was well-trod turf for him: $825 million worldwide. But, first, he had to imagine himself in the dream world of Inception before he took audiences there.
DEADLINE: How was writing Inception different for you?
NOLAN: What I try to do is write from the inside out. I really try to jump into the world of the film and the characters, try to imagine myself in that world rather than imagining it as a film I’m watching onscreen. Sometimes, that means I’m discovering things the way the audience will, with character and story. Other times, you’re plotting it out with diagrams and taking a very objective view. Writing, for me, is a combination of both. You take an objective approach at times to get you through things, and you take a subjective approach at other times, and that allows you to find an emotional experience for the audience. This was one of those projects that burned inside me for a long time, but I wouldn’t say in a completely unique way. I made a film earlier called The Prestige. For four or five years, that burned inside me. It was something I really wanted to crack with my brother Jonah, and eventually we did it. I certainly have other ideas I’ve not been able to crack that I see great potential in, sitting in the back of a drawer. You never quite know what you’re going to come back to and figure out how to make it work. You never quite know where that desire to finish something, or return to something in a fresh way, is going to come from. Every time I finished a film and went back and looked at it, I had changed as a person. The script was different to me. And, eventually, who I was as a writer, as a filmmaker, and what the script needed to be, all these things coincided.
DEADLINE: What breakthrough ended Inception’s 10-year script gestation period?
NOLAN: The final piece of the puzzle for me with the script I’d been trying to finish for about 10 years was figuring out how to connect emotionally with the central character in a way that would make it a more emotional story. The reason I got hung up on this is that I had first devised the rules of the world, using the heist genre as a way in. That genre embraces exposition and so it’s good for teaching a new set of rules to an audience. The problem is, heist movies tend to be a bit superficial, glamorous, and fun. They don’t tend to be emotionally engaging. What I realized after banging my head into a wall for 10 years trying to finish it is that when you’re dealing with the world of dreams, the psyche, and potential of a human mind, there has to be emotional stakes. You have to deal with issues of memory and desire. I figured out the emotional connection of the central character to the audience and made this about following his journey home to his children and his love for his wife. Those really were the final pieces of the puzzle that let me finish the script.
DEADLINE: While you were waiting for that solution, were there movies that came along that convinced you the technology was there to translate your visuals to the screen?
NOLAN: On The Dark Knight we really tried to push ourselves to achieve a lot of large-scale effects in camera, to really create a world by shooting on location, all around the world, and by doing very large in-camera gags like flipping an 18-wheeler truck on a busy downtown street, for real. Coming out the other side of that experience and having enjoyed it as much as I did left me feeling like we had a great team of people who could devise and photograph these kinds of visuals. I came away feeling well equipped to take on the world of Inception and the kind of outlandish imagery it would require. Most of the technology employed for the imagery of Inception is fairly old-fashioned. There is some newer technology that the guys at Double Negative brought to the table. The most daunting aspect of the visuals, for me, had always been things that had been based on in-camera technologies, like achieving zero gravity by building sets with different orientations and doing tricks with wires. Those techniques were based on seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 when I was a kid, falling in love with deception and the magical tricks he did to convince an audience there was zero gravity. The thing that really gave me confidence to take on my film had more to do with my own experience, rather than technology in other people’s films. It was more about having had the opportunity to do some really large-scale filmmaking and getting comfortable with the big machine that’s involved in that to really get a handle on pushing the envelope with what we’d be able to do on set and in-camera.
DEADLINE: What advantages did writing on spec give you?
NOLAN: I had actually gone in and met with Warner Bros years before, right after I’d finished Insomnia, and described the project when I was starting to write it. They wanted to hire me then to write it, but I turned away from that opportunity. I realized with a project like Inception I would be trying to cross certain boundaries of genre and push the envelope of what mainstream movies are allowed to with an audience.