Thursday, January 19, 2012

Exclusive Interview: UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING's Måns Mårlind And Björn Stein, Co-Directors

I had the privilege of having lunch with the directors of UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein (SHELTER) and naturally I recorded the whole thing! Please bear with the background noise of us stuffing our faces while conversing.

I must say right up front that not only are these two directors solidly on their game, but they are total class acts and great company.

Allow me to impart to you what it was like to watch both of them at work on the set together. It is amazing to see in action. First of all, they take turns directing for a day, but they are both normally on set at the same time. They frequently discuss their shots together and really operate as one after a quick consensus. I saw no real disagreements or slowness in their process and in fact there were many benefits that I could see to their way of doing business! Clearly they had control of the set and creative freedom that any director insists upon, but they had almost a omnipotent feeling over the production to me. But the set was a relaxed yet thoroughly professional! The speed at which everyone worked to pull together the next shot was amazing. I liked what I saw and certainly the end result is fantastic. You are going to love it, especially if you are a fan of the series or action. Their passion in filmmaking was completely evident to me in person and so is their final result to you I'm sure.

0:15 - On how to pronounce their names! :-) Mads and Bjorn play along with me as they have obviously encountered this issue with other English speaking individuals!
1:00 - On what drew them to the production. Obviously the script attracted them and the fact that they had an idea about how they were going to shoot it put it over the top. They wanted to make something new out of this gothic series.
3:30 - How they are using S3D as another tool to differentiate this movie from the earlier efforts. This is their first stereoscopic 3D project and so they have brought on some expertise in the field to assist - but it still all done in house and without a third party.
4:15 - Being terrified at first about using 3D for the first time. After getting over the fear and that their shooting would change slightly for 3D, they accepted the challenge as a good thing for their careers. They both took the same 3D professional training course that James McQuaide (Visual Effects Supervisor, Executive Producer) took with Sony and the lights went off in their heads: 3D wasn't actually a problem, but a solution for their needs on UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING.
5:30 - On lens changes. The only issue, after getting up to speed with shooting 3D, is lens changes. Once that was addressed though, they are shooting now pretty much like an ordinary movie (given that the handheld shots are more restrictive in the format).
6:30 - On 3D bring much richer experience for audiences.
7:00 - On being one of the first filmmakers to be able to use the 5K Red Epic Cameras. This is their first digital production (other than commercials)! Imagine having your first experience in digital using the best on the market in Red Epics! Kasimir Lehto (Stereographer and 3D Supervisor) was at our table too - you can hear him speak up now and again. They simply love shooting in 120 frames per second (all those tricks that become possible in post - outstanding slo-mo, etc) and the fact that you don't have to keep changing cameras for different shots - the Red on max framerate covers them all.
8:30 - On using the 3ality Technica 3D rigs. They compared the 3ality rigs to the Pace Fusion rigs and thought that the Fusion ones were much larger (at least the older versions that they might have seen) and that the crew says they can work twice as fast as Fusion equipped productions. Their guess is that it has something to do with the rigs, but lets face it - directors don't mess around with the cameras very often at all (unless your James Cameron!).
10:00 - On clearing up misconceptions about 3D. Yes, handheld shots are hampered by using 3D as it is hard on the eyes of the audience if the camera is jostling around. The Red Epics can be used by restricting to 60 or 70% of the frame size to zoom because of the immense resolution of the camera. DPs like using prime lenses (artistically) and directors like zooms (because they're fast) but it doesn't take as long to align the latter.

Thank you so much Sony Screen Gems and Gloria Davies for setting this whole thing up! I loved my time on set and being back in my old neighborhood, beautiful Vancouver. I still have more interviews that I will get up soon and also for when the UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING 3D blu-ray disc hits. Stay tuned!

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING bites into theaters TOMORROW! Check it out!

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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