Total Film/Sky Movies Event Previews PC
Total Film / Sky Movies Preview Event Wednesday March 19th 2008
I knew I was going to have a couple of spare hours in London before the Total Film Preview, so I decided to look up the Strand underground station, even though I knew that they hadn’t actually filmed in London. I was surprised to find that three different stations have been called Strand (luckily at different times!). The one that would have been Strand at the time of the Pevensies is actually what is now called Charing Cross. And that is right next to Trafalgar Square – hence the statue of the lion. So, I went to the station and to the square just to see if they’re actually basing it on reality at all – well, not really, I discovered, but it was fun checking it out, anyway.
I had a fright coming in to Leicester Square for the first time, I turned around and there were these huge posters everywhere proclaiming the event. I was actually really nervous about the whole affair, probably because a six hour coach journey gives you far too much time to think, and I’d been thinking a lot. I wandered around for a little longer before finally collecting my ticket. It seemed a bit of a shambles, even with the grand decoration, as the people at the ticket counters kept having to go get others to help them so it took about ten minutes just to pick up a ticket I’d already paid for. Then people gathered at 5.30 drew near – and passed. We weren’t let in that late but still, the overall impression, in terms of efficiency, wasn’t that great! They took everyone’s phones off them – an incredible feat, I think, for a cinema full of people.
This was when it started to get exciting. In the foyer was a lovely big display for Prince Caspian, a huge 13:9 poster, with what looked like Cair Paravel on the right (but it must have been Miraz’s castle), and on the left side a big Aslan head, a big Caspian head, and little everyone else’s heads. I would have taken a picture, but my phone was now safely confiscated in a plastic bag. Instead what they were doing was taking pictures of people on a throne that was in front of the centre of the poster, guarded by two Telmarine suits of armour. I got my picture taken, but I’m not very photogenic, so I’m slightly worried as to what they’ll do with the photographs! Displayed were the Asterius and Tyrus heads, Caspian’s sword, Peter’s shield, Susan’s horn (all on the left of the throne); Susan’s bow, Edmund’s sword, Edmund’s shield, and Lucy’s vial (all on the right side). They all looked really lovely, and aged beautifully – they really did look like they’d just been sitting somewhere gathering dust for a long time. It was like a museum exhibit! Each piece had a little card saying what it was, and some had photos I hadn’t seen before, so I’ll try to describe them. One was Caspian speaking to Susan and Lucy, who were sat on a horse (it looked as if he’d just helped them up). It looked like it was underground. Another was three of the children (I’m not sure which three, but I think either Edmund or Lucy was missing) and Trumpkin hiding behind a fallen tree/pile of chopped timber which was on the hillside above the river and the bridge of Beruna. You could see Telmarines down on the bridge. The others were either really similar to what we’ve already seen or ones we have actually seen.
After that I went inside and waited until 7.45 until they finally got going; again they were late, which meant I had to leave early but luckily I didn’t miss any of the Disney exclusives. I’m not going to talk about any of the other behind-the-scenes stuff I saw, except for one thing – the Q & A session with Guillermo del Toro. After plugging “Hellboy II” (which looks violent) and “The Orphanage” (which looks absolutely horrible; I wish I hadn’t seen the clip that was shown), the interviewer asked about “The Hobbit”. I took a few notes so I’ll paraphrase what he said, but basically he thinks that there’s a “99% chance” that “The Hobbit” will get made. Also, he talked about how it’s a different feel from “The Lord of the Rings”, how it’s more “innocent and magical”, and more of a fairytale – “I’m in love with fairytales”. “And,” he said, “it has huge spiders!”
WALL•E looks amazing; saw some gorgeous exclusive clips! (If anyone wants to know any more about the other stuff I saw, please PM me). Then it was Narnia’s turn. The Total Film guy who was introducing everything said “here’s never-before-seen footage, straight from the editing room, world exclusive” kind of thing, and then they showed the trailer and I was thinking “come on, come on, I know this off by heart already!” Then came a short but sweet video introduction by Andrew Adamson, and then it began. First was the first shot from the trailer, but it was longer at both ends. There were lots of new clips in the station, grabbing hands, tiles coming off everywhere, underground train rushing past; had some new close ups on the beach as they come out of the tunnel, as well as some lovely shots of the Pevensies playing in the waves. Aerial shot of the ruins of Cair Paravel covered by trees, then shots we’ve seen before, and a new close up of Lucy looking over that little parapet. What was a shame was that there was no speaking or sound effects, only background music (can’t remember what it was, paying too much attention to the video!) Much longer shot of Lucy coming in and looking at the treasure chamber, not much more detail of the chamber though. Then back to the beach and Trumpkin being rescued; Susan shooting (I assume at the Telmarines) and them all in the boat (different shots). Then Prince Caspian leading what looked like just Peter and Edmund in a tunnel, then a shot of the four Pevensies and Trumpkin clambering along a river in a gorge, then a possibly unfinished shot of a Dryad, a tilt shot that followed her up into the tree tops. Miraz in the castle followed next, Caspian getting woken up (I assume by Cornelius; unfortunately no clear shot of him). Then followed the shot of Caspian peeking through the doorway, and Miraz doing something to somebody, looked (to me) like someone getting killed. Next showed more clips of Caspian running away and getting chased, which ended with a huge low branch looming up, I wrote down that he hit it, but I can’t actually remember! Then was a shot of Miraz being crowned (at least that’s what it looked like). Reepicheep, next, in the shot that was on TV, and then him and a couple of other mice were jumping on people’s faces and killing them, I imagine. There was a cat, too, a ginger cat, who had actually been tied up – there was a string around his mouth. There was also a shot when the mice climbed on each other’s backs to open a door (Reepicheep opening it, of course). Lots of shots of the night raid, Glenstorm and Asterius charging and breaking things down, intercut with a lot of trailer footage. And, also, a lot of Susan (sorry, Susolas) “kicking butt”. There was a shot which looked similar to the faun fighting pre-vis, but it wasn’t exactly the same. A lot of fauns jumping off things onto people. Then they showed more footage of the duel – very interesting because Peter fell down, and then Miraz fell down too! A new close up of the White Witch, but still no more explanation! It ended with Caspian blowing the horn, and then the “flame” Narnia title (that there was a video of on YouTube), instead of the “rubble-and-trees” one.
Unfortunately, “Q & A” meant someone from Total Film was going to ask all the questions, and so I was a little upset – at first. Howard Berger said a lot of interesting things, as did Warwick Davies, who he’d brought along with him! And, amazingly, the interviewer asked some really good questions, even about “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader!” The first thing that Howard and Warwick mentioned was the Total Film event “leaving the best until last” (which wasn’t strictly true, seeing as there was a lot more afterwards, but I sure agreed with them). Then the interviewer gained control and asked “I haven’t read ‘Prince Caspian’ for a long time, can you remind me what happens?” so I inwardly groaned at that, but luckily Howard just explained the 1 year / 1300 years thing, and moved right along. He said the Pevensies “don’t recognise it at first . because it’s so different” (again, paraphrasing, only the general gist of what he said). He then talked about Asterius and Tyrus, and how there are “no bad creatures in Narnia anymore” (to that I would have asked about the Hag, and the Werewolf, but I couldn’t). Also, Howard talked about the age of Asterius, which I hadn’t realised before – he’s a very old minotaur. He then talked about the various ages of the creatures and the “evolution” they’d gone through since “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Warwick then said a little about the “agonisingly painful” process of makeup “made worse by Howard’s jokes” . but then he quickly added “it was an absolute pleasure”. Howard talked a little about the makeup for Warwick’s character, Nikabrik, and how he’d had to consider that there was an actor underneath who needed to perform. Warwick said how Howard’s work is the “icing on the cake” but you need to act as well, you can’t just let the makeup do the work. Howard Berger added that he had to “give Warwick something that didn’t look like Warwick but allowed him to express himself”. So they both agreed it was a very collaborative thing. Then the interviewer managed to ask another question, about how he’d “read that ‘Prince Caspian’ was darker and grittier, did you ever want to go further than Andrew Adamson wanted you to, in terms of blood, etc.?” I thought this was a very odd question, and so did Howard . “grittier, but no blood”. “The design is grittier, but again, as with the last film, I haven’t used any blood.” Howard went on to explain how he’s always kept in mind his first ever meeting with Andrew Adamson who explained his childhood remembrances of Narnia – he took in mind “what Andrew the little boy saw Narnia as”. So, no blood! “Also,” he went on to say, “kids are a great reference, there is no eye purer than a child’s to nitpick!” It turns out that before Andrew came round every week to see how designs were going, Howard’s kids would criticise and praise as they saw fit, and as such there were a few last minute changes before the director saw the designs .
Warwick compared his work on “Star Wars: Episode I” to working on “Prince Caspian” and he talked about the reality of the set, the “epic scale . you are standing there as the character” whereas in “Episode I”, the “rest is left to imagination”, in terms of more green screen than set. He then went on to tell a story about his paranoia with ticks, when he discovered that where they were shooting, in the Chek Republic, was an area known for ticks. He said how he put elastic bands round his trouser legs, and stuck to the paths. Of course, this all changed with one shot, when he reached the end of the path and had to keep going into the grass . he described how he tried to “act hesitant and wait for Andrew to shoot ‘cut!’ – but he didn’t” so he had to keep walking along into the grass. Howard Berger added here that “as soon as Andrew yelled cut, Warwick ran!”
The interviewer asked whether Howard was still busy editing, and Howard most gleefully replied that his work finished when shooting finished. He said he has “no input in digital”, so I assume that means he wasn’t involved with Reepicheep. He also talked about the different release dates, and said that “I think they (I assume rabid non-U.S. fans!) wished it opened at the same time”. He mentioned how he was now woking on “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, and, hurrah, the interviewer took the cue and asked what he’d be doing on that. Howard Berger said he’d be designing “Dufflepuds and Sea People, as well as a handful of Narnians aboard the Dawn Treader”. He spoke a little more about the Dufflepuds, saying that it was “really difficult to find the right look – without making them ridiculous”. I think he meant more visually ridiculous, than laughable ridiculous, though seeing as in the book, they are ridiculous). He then joked that he’d based some of the heads of the Dufflepuds on Warwick’s head. Then the interviewer wrapped up and said thanks, and Howard got out the pile of “Prince Caspian” t-shirts and tossed them to the crowd. Two landed in my row but gosh are people violent for any kind of film item and so, disappointingly, I didn’t get one.
I ended up having to leave only a little while after Howard and Warwick had finished, as I realized I was going to miss my coach. So I missed some stuff I wanted to see but it was definitely worth the six hour coach journeys just to see that incredible footage and hear Howard Berger and Warwick Davies. Also, Total Film are releasing a DVD of the night with their next issue, I’m not sure whether it will include footage but it will include interviews. If you do end up getting it, beware, it will probably have some foul language, as almost every filmmaker swore at some stage. I can’t believe I’ve written this much but there’s a lot more detail I can’t remember and/or just can’t describe. I’ll try to draw some pictures to show some of the shots more clearly, though.
Thank you AJAiken for the report!