Doug Gresham on NZ Radio
Posted June 12, 2008 9:52 am by Tirian
Doug Gresham was interviewed today by our friends at Rhema Radio in New Zealand. DJ Rob Holding asked Gresham about his experience making Prince Caspian and also gets in a few questions about work on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Listen to the interview right here on NarniaWeb:
Doug: Good morning Rob How are you?
Rob: I’m very well How are you?
Doug: Pretty good thanks. Pretty good.
Rob: You’re obviously very happy with Prince Caspian
Douglas: I think it’s a favulous movie. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.
Rob: I’m interested in the quote that umm ‘Poorer book, but better or poorer story was it but better movie.
Doug: Yeah I think the quote is often misinterpreted by people and I didn’t mean that it was a bad book in any way at all. I meant that it was a less rich book in terms of material to make a movie out of, which it is. The story in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is told in a very dramatic form to start with and very relatively easy therefore to convert into a film. But the story of Prince Caspian is far more difficult and doesn’t really have a lot of the stuff that Lion, the Witch had to make it exciting so of course we had to make some fairly significant changes to the way, to the story presents.
Rob: Part of that being the return to the castle which took me by a bit of surprise: “Hey! Where did that come from?”
Doug: Yeah, the raid on the castle but that was an important part of character development for both Caspian and Peter and also Susan and Lucy to a less degree so we had to have something to establish a the relationship, developing of relationships between Caspian, the newcomer and the four Pevensie children who everybody knows and loves from the first movie and also the way Peter’s character is changing throughout having been a king, a High King ,in fact, in Narnia for 15 years, he has to go back to school in England and become a kid again and really, that’s quite hard for anybody to take, I imagine.
Doug: So we see how Peter’s character has to, has to reemerge as High King in Narnia and of course he does and magnificently too.
Rob: I suppose it is kinda hard writing that into a, I mean what he, the character’s age is what 16, 17 for Peter around that time isn’t it?
Doug: Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
Rob: Writing into that the depth of knowledge that he would’ve had as High King Peter back in Narnian days.
Doug: Precisely and also the development of the relationship between him and Caspian which takes a few knocks in the beginning because Caspian disobeys order and goes off and does his own thing in the castle with dire results and so on, So that was an important facet as well. But basically the story of Prince Caspian in the book is four children are dragged back into Narnia 1300 hundred years after they left, they meet a dwarf, they all sit around the camp fire and the dwarf tells them a long story about someone they’ve never met called Prince Caspian
Rob: (laughs) That’s right
Doug: And they go on for a long walk in the woods and at the end there is a battle and that sort of ties it down. I mean, it works very well because of Jack’s masterful use of English language on the printed page but we couldn’t do that in a movie so we had to elaborate a little bit.
Rob: Doesn’t translate to the celluloid very well which will almost be the exact opposite with Dawn Treader.
Doug: Yeah, the problem with Dawn Treader of course is not what to put into it but what we can afford to take out.
Doug: Dawn Treader is so full of great stuff that this, that this is the challenge for us on this one. It’s err (laughs), it’s really, in some ways, more difficult but I think, I think we’re going to wind up with a lovely movie.
Rob: That’s similar in ways to what Peter Jackson is going through with The Hobbit in that they’re now deciding that it’s got to be two movies because of everything in it. You’re not doing that with Dawn Treader though, are you?
Doug: No,I don’t think we will. They will stay with the one film.
Rob: (laughs) What will be for you, the part that you, in Caspian that when you’re looking at it, you go ‘I’m so glad that’s in there’.
Doug: Well there’s a lot of things. There’s Lucy lovely meeting with Aslan in a semi-dreamlike state. We’re never quite sure whether it’s a dream or reality.
Rob: Of course it’s reality. Come on then.
Doug: Fair enough. I’ll buy that. There’s all sorts of lovely scenes which I adore which is when poor old Reepicheep gets his tail back. I think that’s a beautiful, beautiful sequence.
Rob: And very nicely done
Doug: There are a lot of little bits and pieces throughout the movie which I love but I think, as a whole the movie is exceptionally strong and exciting and I’m very proud of it.
Rob: Yeah I know that you have had the power of veto, if I got that right, over anything going in the movie and I know you haven’t exercise that power in any of the two movies. Have you been close?
Doug: Well, I don’t think I’ve ever had to, I don’t think, I don’t really think a question has come up which has demanded me to put my foot down with a firm hand if you see what I mean and say ‘no we can’t do that or yes, we should do that or anything like that. It just doesn’t happen. I mean there have been certainly, there have been things where Andrew and I have disagreed, things where we have talked to a great length and come to an agreement in the end or a compromise or a consensus depending on who else is involved. But we’ve never had a head on confrontation or anything. It’s just never happened.
Rob: And I would doubt that’d happen with Michael in Dawn Treader.
Doug: I don’t think so either, Michael is a very easy guy to work with. He’s a very nice bloke and he’s a very experienced director so I don’t imagine that would happen either.
Rob: Speaking of Andrew and Michael in the change here, how’s Andrew going to interact with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I mean, obviously, he’s speaking to us here from New Zealand but he says he’d be on the beach with a cell phone and expect the occasional phone call.
Doug: I think that’s probably almost exactly what will happen actually. (Laughs) I think Andrew, Andrew really needs to take some time off. I mean, he’s been working with us nonstop for about 6 or 7 years now. He’s got two little children, two little girls who he has rarely seen in that time.
Doug: So, I think he really needs to wind down for a while and relax and I wish him joy too. I think he’s done a magic job.
Rob: Is Michael..
Doug: We’re very sorry to lose him of course but we don’t want to lose him by him going into funny farm. We want him to stay healthy. So in a sense, we’re glad he’s taking a break.
Rob: Is Michael Apted a fan of the books?
Doug: I think he is. Yeah he is certainly. It’s interesting, on these shoots, we seem to wind up with the nicest people working for us and it’s great. Michael is a really nice guy and he understands the material and of course, he understands film. He’s been in the business a long time.
Rob: There was talk of using the original four children by the time you get round to doing the Horse and His Boy, the original children would be old enough to play themselves.
Doug: Well, there are only three in the Horse and His Boy of course- Edmund, Lucy and Susan and of course, if they’re available and amenable we’d love to being them back. There would be nothing better for us than to keep the continuity of casting right through the whole series.
Rob: Do you ever sit there sometimes and think now ‘I’d really like this person to direct Silver Chair and I’d like this person to direct Last Battle’ and
Doug: I have ideas and I have to bounce them off the rest of my team when they come up, to see what we can come up with you know. Occasionally I think about those sorts of things but it’ a matter of really, we need to be a little sensible because whether or not we make all the rest of Narnia chronicles depends entirely on how much support we get from the public for each film as we make it.
Rob: Here’s me thinking that they’ve already signed onboard for making all seven.
Doug: No, no. They’re not all greenlit by any means but certainly they have the opportunity to do so but that again depends entirely on public support.
Rob: Which we expect will be high enough
Doug: Well, I would hope so.
Rob: Yeah, I didn’t notice a Doug Gresham cameo in Caspian.
Doug: (laughs) You missed it.
Rob: Did I miss it?
Doug: It’s there definitely. I’m not going to give away to anybody where it is but I’m not only there, I’m visible and audible. You can hear me, I got three or four seconds of dialogue or monologue in my case. Now I’m in costume and I’m carrying a sword and I’m there.
Rob: Alright. Well I’ve only seen it the once and I got to keep an eye out for you in the next one.
Doug: Yeah, you’d have to take back all your friends and see if you can find me.
Rob: I’ll definitely take all the friends to see it. So how is Dawn Treader going?
Doug: It looks spectacular. The concept art work we’ve done is fabulous and it does seem to be shaping up beautifully but of course, when we start filming the proof of the pudding is in the camera, if you excuse me, the mangling of phrase. So we’ll find out but it does look great at the moment.
Rob: and the filming starts when?
Doug: We hope to start filming in October I guess.
Rob: Alright, alright. We’ll just send everyone along to see Caspian in the mean time.
Doug: Do that by all means. Take all your friends and all your enemies too. You’re supposed to love your enemies remember.
Rob: That’s the one. Doug, thankyou so much your time and we’ll talk to you again for the next film.
Doug: Good on you Rob. I’d love to talk to you again. Give my regards to New Zealand and if you get the chance, send me some pineapple lumps.
Rob: Oh, can’t you get any?
Doug: No, not over here. No, the only place in the world you can get them is New Zealand.
Rob: (laughs) I’ll see what I can do.
Doug: Good on you.
Rob: Okay, see you.
Doug: Thanks mate. Cheers. Bye, bye.
Thanks to ‘Yellow Peril’ for the transcript.