epic Interview in Philly with Director Chris Wedge

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tinsel & Tine got invited to a roundtable interview with Chris Wedge the director of the new Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) animated movie Epic.  These types of interviews are one of my favorite things about writing Tinsel & Tine.  You have direct access to filmmakers and actors in a deluxe Center City hotel conference room, but because 3 or 4 other journalists are involved with the interview it takes  the pressure off and allows for a light-hearted, fun atmosphere, as long as no one steals your question before you can ask it ;-)

Epic is a tale about the magical worlds that may co-exist with us, were we to look closely. No need for me to go into full detail, cause here's the director to explain the movie in his own words (see video below 2:26) :

Tinsel & Tine: To create a magical world like in Epic you must be in touch with your inner child. What do you attribute to being able to continually access this part of yourself? And what was your favorite childhood tale?  

Chris Wedge: We didn't get to watch as many movies as kids get to watch now. We didn't have any Netflix, We didn't have VCR's! I don't know how old I look to you guys...we had to go to the movies or wait for movies to come on TV. What I liked as a little boy were adventure movies - Robin Hood, Errol Flynn with his hands on his hips swashbuckling through movies, Captain Blood, King Kong. I came of age in the 70's and movies got a little bit more down to earth with anti-heros. I always loved movies with a lot of action, but also a lot of banter, characters fighting in mortal danger, but still quipping to your buddy; that's what Robin Hood's about, that's what Butch and Sundance are all about, I love that tone.

CW cont: And a lot of that is what inspired this movie (Epic). Blue Sky movies have been fun, colorful character comedies, it's comedy that I think breaks out of what people consider children's fare, into broad audience fare. And with this one (Epic) I wanted it to be the scope, the spectacle, the adventure, the action, that pulls it out of that unfortunate pigeon hole that we find ourselves in animation, that it's only for kids. I know we're talking to moms and kids, and I love kids, but when I was a kid, I watch old Fleischer Brother cartoons and Popeye and Looney Tunes, these weren't made for kids. Looney Tunes were a bunch of knuckleheads at Warner Bros. entertaining themselves.

Steven Tyler came in and I didn't have to ask him to act at all cause I had cast his voice to be the heart of this very Gigantic, flamboyant character Nim Galuu
  (The gnarly supposedly sage guide of the forest). 

Tinsel & Tine: The title of the movie – Epic is a lot to live up to. Was this the title all along?
If not, when did everyone decide the story got big enough to be called Epic?

Chris Wedge: It wasn't always the title of the movie, we went through a couple of them and some of them weren't available to use, and some of them seemed... ya know... what would you title it? It's a tough one – the movie about the guy who looks for little people in the woods? I don't know... It was hard, and so this one we landed on, and the idea when we first thought of it was that we'd always use it ironically, the title's in lowercase letters (epic). We tried to make the title as little as we can (on the poster) big story in a small world.

Christoph (Waltz) was fun, he'd never done animation before and he wondered why we didn't have a boom microphone. Cause he wanted to move around and get away from the podium. His character is very physical (Mandrake, villainous leader of the boggans out to destroy the beauty of the forest); 
so we got a guy with a boom from the union and he followed Christoph around. 
He also insisted on doing all his scenes through, so I would find myself playing against him. 
I read my line and I'd look up an expect to see him looking at his podium, but instead he'd be in character, burning a hole in my head with his gaze.

Tinsel & Tine: I read an interview you did with IGN back in 05 they asked you: What is the one project that you've always wanted to do, but have yet to be able to?

You answered: "Someday, I'd like to sit down with a small group of people, in a relaxed environment, and make a film that feels more independent. That way we can be a little more free in terms of storytelling and subject."

T &T cont: I was listening to a talk Steven Soderbergh gave at the SF Film Fest (click for recording of his speech) recently speaking along the same lines and he said that even movies with a small budget to make, cost a lot to put it out. Do you feel your any closer to this dream project?

I'm really glad I asked Chris this question (above) because it really seemed to give him pause for thought.  Click below video to hear his answer (1:55):

epic Vocal Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis & Steven Tyler.

epic is loosely based on William Joyce's children's book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. The animated movie out at Christmas Rise of the Guardians (click for T &T post) was also based on a story by Joyce.  

The questions posted were asked by Tinsel & Tine, but I'd also like to acknowledge the other writers in attendance: Ben F. Silverio Pretentious Film Majors,  Alexandre Uboldi, Sarah Peppel Moms Love Media, Paul Perkins The King Room Entertainment, and Barbara Spalding

LAMB Score 2.5 out of 5

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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