Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
Craft Services
Craft Services

Episode 50 · 1 year ago

ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992) with 2nd Unit Director Doug Lefler

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Trent and Parth celebrate their 50th episode spectacular with another swell interview. But really this was one of our favorites. Now the question is, will we get to 100? 

Edited by Parth Marathe

Yeah, all right, you primitive screwheads. Listen Up, see this, this is my post. So part what have you been eating? Trent, my boy, nice to see you, my podcasting host, my brother. Okay, what's that? A bit much, should i? Okay, you could have stopped it. Podcasting host for a classmate. There are a lot of a lot of things we are, but just look at US part brothers. I had some lucky charms. We were going to record and all I'd had was a glass of milk, some Choco, Chucko milk, short chocolate milk. Yeah, I shortened chocolate to Chaco, Chaco, which is probably is more letters and probably end more syllables. Yeah, but I think it makes me cool, or sound a little cool. But yeah, so we were going to record and I was like, I technically haven't eaten anything. I'm going to take a handful of these delicious lucky great, very professional. What's that alarm for? Huh, my laundry. So putting your laundry above the podcast? All right, it's interesting. I was I was saying we could just edit that out, I could restart, but now you want to make it part part of no, no, the fans deserved to know the truth, that it just what you think of them. Yeah, so I took a handful of delicious lucky charms, put those marshmallow and cereal bits and pieces into my mouth crunch them on my way here, and Trent, punctual, as usual, was a five minutes away from actually joining. So, yeah, what you have of times for to make fun of my punctuality. I was only five minutes late today, when my standard lateness is like upward of fifteen minutes, so much so that I had a friend in high school who kept a note section and his phone called the Trent twardiness differential, where he would list the time that I said that I would come to the place and then the time that I actually arrived. HMM, which is your favorite of the lucky charms? I know that the like Tan BITs, that the non marshmallow parts are essentially just cheerios, but not right. Yeah, not honey. I feel like they're sweeter, though, aren't they? Probably because there's so much like excess sugar kicking around. Would you ever eat those independently? or The marshmallows? The crux of that? I mean, like, if I go to have lucky charms, I'm going to want some marshmallow happening, but you're not the unique type of crazy person to order the just marshmallows like box off Amazon. No, because that sounds like madness and a cavity machine. Yes, yes, it does. I think you can only appreciate the beauty of the marshmallow in juxtaposition to the blandness of the of the of the Cheerio of it all. Trent, you're smart fellow and I agree with everything that's that's been said. Now you're making me curious with as to what you've consumed. Yeah, I'm not sure if this breaks any rules to the POD. But and who? And being its past noon, it's not particularly so acceptable. Could it be eating nothing? Is this a first? I it's a first. You. Usually I'll jam something in my pie hole last second just to just to keep you busy, keep talking about your bi hole. Yeah, but my pie holes currently empty. It's you know, I big plans for what might come next, but the shows. But what you've eaten in the past tense, not what? Not What you've got? You've got lined up. It's true, not to get too off topic, but...

...it's the fifty episode spectacular. Should we should we just move right in, remove right along. Let the people hear what they want to hear. Yeah, let's just put all the people who said that we wouldn't get to fifty episodes on blast. Fuck you, guys. We did it. Welcome back to craft services. Our fifty episode spectacular. We did it, go us against all the odds, against all the adversity, the obstacles. Twenty five. Well, how many interviews is it? Is? It's like that. We've done twenty three. I think this is our twenty three, and so I guess that means we have twenty seven discussions out there, something like that. Anyways, welcome back to craft services, where we talk about the movies. This is our film podcast. Thanks for coming. Each week we talked about a film and hopefully have a crew member of that film to talk with us about their experience working on the PIC Chet. This week we spoke with second unit director of our film for this week, army of darkness, Doug Left Ler, and part it says here in my notes that he was a delightful man and very insightful. Is that correct? This is one of my favorite interviews we've ever done. I'd say partially because we're now only one degree of separation away. I'm Rami from Sam Remy Sam Raymy Bruce Campbell. Yes, and we found out that, to put it lightly, our boy doug left ler to some level inspired edgar right, it's true. You get to hear saw of a quite a few interesting so to you hear how he was fired by Sony pictures on while working on spider man. Yeah, political movie, Hollywood mayhem. There's some juicy anecdotes in this one, boys and girls at home. He's he was Brad Bird's roommate, you know, the guy that directed some movies like the incredible, the iron giant. What school did you get? It was the cow arts, you know. He was only in like their first year. Yeah, no, let's go back to the part where he was roommates with Bradburd because that's awesome. Brad Bird wasn't on our show, but his college roommate, Doug Lefler was. That's pretty cool too indeed. Well, we don't want to give too many of the bits away and this is a long interview, so we are just gonna Trent. Do you want to just lead US right in? Yeah, so listen to the entirety of the episode or else there will be consequences. Maybe turn US off early part and I will know what happens to you next. It's it's in your hands. I feel no need to comment on it, but it could be grizzly and destructive and it could have something to do with part and I come into your house and destroying you. At the end, Peter from legal is here. Can you just get us in? I have to deal with him. All right, listen. Yeah, well, reveal what comes next to the end of the episode, so listen to it. Thanks all right, good bye. Enjoy. Thanks. Bellow, everybody, and welcome to our interview with Doug Leffler. He's worked on such projects as spider man, the avengers, Godzilla, versus Kong and was the second unit director for our film for today, Sam Remi's army of darkness. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for having me so just to start off, what was your relationship with film at a young age? I was once in a restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand, with two other directors and the subject came up. What was the film that inspired you to get into the movie...

...industry? One of the other directors said citizen came and the other one said Lawrence of Arabia and I said one million years BC with Brook Kettle Welch and stop motion by Ray Harry Hausen. Went to see that film in a drive in with my dad and afterwards I said Dad, how did they make those dinosaurs and he said I don't know, and that was the first time I had heard those words come out of his mouth. So I became obsessed with learning how they did that. And this was a long time ago. We didn't have the Internet and getting information like that was hard earned and perhaps because of that it was precious and I wanted to actimize on it. So I had wanted to be Ray Harry Hawsen for quite a long time and I did a lot of stop motion animation and when I was in high school, somewhere when in my my mid teens, I actually got to meet some some soft ocean animators like Jim Danforth and David Allen, and this was in the Prestar wars days and most of these guys were out of work and I decided that I wanted to not focus on executing the visual effects or doing stop motion animation myself. But I'm planning. I need it out and to work more in the area of story, because it seemed like most of the films of that time that failed failed more from bad story than they did from bad visual effects. So we read that you went to California Institute of the Arts and we we were wondering how that came to be and we also were wondering how you ended up at Disney from there. Well, yeah, that's an interesting it was an interesting turn of events. I was making films when I was a teenager. As I said, I had a group of people friends in high school. We formed a production company called paragogn productions. There were five of us originally and kind of went out down to four of us. We had an opportunity to go to an our teacher's convention at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim and there were people from what was then called wet enterprises that were giving discussions theme park design, and I cornered John Henshu as the vice president of Wade, and told him that we were making films and persuaded him that we deserve to get a tour of way WED enterprises. Now is called Disney imagineary, but it wow, it was then in is now the division of Disney that designs the theme parks. So we John Hand said will call my assistant on Monday will say something up. So I did. We got rescheduled to tour. My friends and I drove down there. They gave us a tour of the model shop, which was really inspiring for a bunch of high school kids, and afterwards John hench's assistant with Lee, taken us back out of the parking that. We said we brought our movies with us, we are elimed films. Would you like to see them? And he said I had loved it. Know this guy already given up in our half of his day to us, he said, but we don't have an eight millimiter projector. So that was a kind of a graceful way of getting out of it. Unfortunately it didn't work because we had brought an eight millimented projector with us, so he got stuck. Good Planning. We set up the projector in the conference room. was at a time when some of the show designers were leaving to go home and some of them stopped to see what we were showing. These kids join these eight millimeter films. Some of them had stopped motion animation. What they lacked in budget they made up for in ambition and, I think, creative storytelling. And one of those show designers was a guy named ex Atensio, and he put a call to Walt Disney pictures, to the animation department. After that, and about a week later my mom came to tell me that there was a man on the phone from Walt Disney wanted to talk...

...to me. At first I said you sure's not one of my friends playing a joke on me, and she said I he sounds very serious. So got on the phone with that handson. He said, so why did you take your films to show to wed and he didn't come show them to us at Disney animation? I didn't know it at that time and I wasn't familiar with is sometimes misplaced sense of humor, so I didn't really know how to respond to that, but I did get to know him later. It's so he invited us to come back. We went back, we showed our films that to Disney and some weeks later we got, all four of us separately, got calls. Disney was setting up this new program at California Institute of the Arts. Walt Disney. After the he first created Disneyland, he began to lose interest in animated films. He was more interested in the theme park. That was newer to him and he felt like he had candy done everything in animation he wanted to do. But the animated heals continue to make money, and so some executive there realized that in order to keep that particular cash cow alive they were going to need to get new talent. So they decided that they were going to fund this program at California Institute of the Arts. They were already giving money to cal arts for the things, so they thought he should get something out of it. So they had funding, they had teachers that were all Pex Disney employees. What they needed was students. So they were looking for students and so they reached out to people who had come to their attention. So I was invited to submit a portfolio. At that time I had no intention of working in and TD animation, but I did obviously have an interest in animation from doing stop motion and I loved art. I always drew and, most importantly, of my life's ambition at that time was to some day work for a film studio. So when somebody from a film studio called. I said Sheryl said a portfolio fun, so I did. I still wasn't thinking I was going to go, but then I got about a month later, Jack Kenny, was ahead of that program, called me up and said, well, we reviewed your portfolio. It wasn't the best portfolio we got, but it was pretty high up there. We're going to give you a full scholarship. Wow, like Oh, okay, I guess I'm going to college. So I went to California Student Institute of the Arts and I was in the very first class they had there. It was kind of a famous class. Yes, it was. We've heard vanny fair did a story about about our program, about our class. I think it was March two thousand and fourteen issue or something. In my career I've I have been a screenwriter, a producer, a director, a storyboard artist and illustrator, sculptor, to many other things, but in my amongst my classmates, I consider myself an underachiever. I was in that program for two years and at the end of the second year my former roommate, who is this guy named Brad Bird, came and said you, John Musker, Jerry Reese and I are wanted. In the Dean's Office. I said are we in trouble? Brad said I think they're going to offer as jobs at at the studio. And I said, Brad, you're crazy. They're going to offer John and Jerry job, but they're not going to offer you and I jobs. But Brad was right and I was wrong and they offered us job and so we were the first four people hired by Disney out of that program so John Musker, Jerry Reese, John Musku, who's directed seven enemy features along with Ron Clemmons, like little mermaid and Aladdin and Hercules and treasure planet, wanna Princess of the problem. Jerry Rees did brave little coaster and the marrying man. Brad, he's done a couple of films. Sign you have to look him up and he's some guy. I think he made it. So you mentioned being a storyboard artist and you have a lot of credits in that regard. So we were wondering how you became involved with doing storyboards for movies.

I say Guade from animation when I got hired at Disney. The first of all I, as I mentioned, my life's ambition was his some day work for film studio. And so here I was. I had just turned twenty and I had fulfilled my life's ambition. So I realized that I had to retool my my program and I didn't I didn't want to remain a TD animator for the same reasons I didn't want to be come a D and stop motion animator. I wanted to say going into the story department, which I eventually did after a couple of years, and I worked on story for Fox in the Hound in on black cauldron. But I also eventually I felt like I needed to move out of animation, primarily because when you do story and animation, your least when I was doing it, we were doing one sequence at a time, so all I could do was the sequence and I really felt like in order to grow, I needed to be able to have the responsibility of the entire structure of the whole story, and also I just always wanted to work in life action. So I thought it might didn't if I didn't leave, I would just that would become my career, which would have been, you know, a great career. I've lost a friends has stayed there and have become part of cinema history as a result of it. But I I wanted to leave and I thought at the time, since I was doing animation storyboards, that the best way for me to segway into live action was as a storyboard artist. To that in I sought out a veteran story live action storyboard artist who was working at the studio at the time and I asked I could come talk to him. He was a guy that had started his career working for Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford and when I met him he was some guys, some guy. When I met him he was doing her because bananas and he joked that he had started his career at the top and they've been working his way down every since. And he said, if you want to do live action storyboards, I'll tell you whatever I can. They help you out, but I have to warn you before you do that's a dead in job. If you become a live action story board artist, it will not lead to anything. Now it pays pretty well, he said, I know I've always worked, but you just can't do anything else. What you'll be stuck doing this for the rest of your career. And when I left his office I remember thinking, but glad I talked to him before I made this horrible mistake. So when I left Disney, eventually I was working as an illustrator and as a writer. Eventually I somebody offered me a job doing storyboards for music video, for live action music video, and I thought this may be a big mistake, but I really needed the money and so I took it. And from the day I started doing that job professionally as a live action storyboard artist, of my experience was entirely different than this veteran who had advised me. I found I was working directly with the director and the First Party, the director and the DP, and I had a lot of him put into the story, to the concept and to how things were being directed, how the film is being made and what the story was going to be for. And I don't think that in any way that the veteran storyboard artist who advised me have liked me. That was his truth and, just as you know film students now that are just entering the workplace, their truth is going to be different than mine. But my truth was different, and I think partially because I was I'd love to draw and I've always drawn. I was always interested in storytelling and and writing and I've always written as well, so I was bringing skills to the table that not all storyboard artist had, perhaps especially. I was very serious about storytelling. I did a lot of studying about three act structure. I read, I read everything. I read comic books and Shakespeare and Ibsen and Shaw, I read anything I...

...thought. They helped me learn how to tell a story better. As a result of that, I had a lot of opportunities. Probably the most prominent among those opportunities was what happened when I started working with Sam Reym on army of darkness. How is that for a Satue that you gave it to us on a platter? Yeah, we we were just about to ask you about how. How did that trends, because we read that interview where you you were told that storyboarding was a dead end job. So how did that ultimately transition into getting what I believe was your first second unit directing Gig on army of darkness? After that first job, storyboarding the music video, a ship music video of our Chicago to day the night, I believe, I did a lot of other storyboarding and and really enjoyed it. And then I was I'd worked a couple times for a company called introvision, which was a visual effects company that had this front projection system. So I understood how it worked. Just wanted to be Ray Harry has and when I was a kid in understanding how we're projection work. So I had worked for introvision a few times and when they were beginning on army of darkness, they brought me and they actually hired me to work with Sam and what they told Sam and Sam's producer, Rob Tapert, was that intervision could do anything. It was like the best technique for visual effects that existed and it could do anything. And then what they told me is don't draw anything we can't do. And it was a strange situation because had I've been hired by the producer and director that I've been hired by Sam to work on the film, probably the first thing I would have done was trying to convince him he should go somewhere else to do the visual effects for this particular film. Now, front projection has its it or had its advantages. At that time there were things it could do, but it certainly going to do everything in nor could can any visual effects technique. You need to pick the best one. Breach job but I was hired by introvision and to work on this and to make it as good as as possible. I got along with Sam Ray me well from from day one. We had similar sense of humor and work ethic and because I had such a strong interest in story, I often found myself restructuring parts of the film. Quite often it was a third act. It's interesting just screenplays aren't really good at third acts for some reason, especially if it's an if an action or visual effects film. A lot of times very good writers can to forget what they know about writing when they when they start writing action. So I had previously on a number of films, helped them by reworking their third acts, and I did that with Sam on army of darkness, because Sam besides being the director, he was also the writer along with his brother Ivan, and he recognized that there were some things that weren't working in the climax of the film, but he didn't know when he was going to have a chance to do a rewrite with their the rigorous preproduction scheduil they had. So I offered, based on the conversations that he and I had, to try to do it, to the rewrite in the storyboard stage. So I restructured and I kept the stuff we both liked and try to keep as many of the original line of dialog and but I just restructured it so that we could get inside the character's head and more we knew what ash was hoping would happened. And when I presented it to Sam, Sam said, I said this is great, this is exactly what it should be and I feel like I need to give you a writing credit for what you've done. Wow, I said. Well, first of all I was shocked because actually I didn't disagree with him, but nobody had ever even recognized that that's what I was doing before. But I said that I thought that that wasn't necessary and he said, well,...

...how about if I give you three days of second unit and I said that I'll take and that three days became three weeks and I just became the second unit director. It's interesting that every directing job, that was the beginning of my directing career, when I directed for about fifteen years, and every directing job that I've had someone has tried to take away from me at some point and which, it happened for the first time, an army of darkness and I didn't realize how much I wanted to do the job, how much I wanted to try directing, until somebody tried to take the job away. And at that time I said, well, that I can't remember was believe it was a producer that came to be in said that he was was going to be able to give it to me. He knew Sam wanted to give it to me, but he was going to have to give tither the the stunt coordinator or the visual back supervisor. And, without thinking about what I was going to say more, I said that's a really stupid idea and let me tell you why, and I did. When I started that sentence, I didn't know what the why was, but I said I have drawn every shot but this film. I know how every piece fits together better than anybody, with the possible exception of Sam Ramy himself, but probably I know it better than Sam because Sam has so many other concerns on his plate. I've only been focused on putting this story together and planning how all of these shots agree to work. And I said, look, the visual effects are really important this, stunts are really important, but nothing's more important than the story. If I was a visual effects the visual effects producer or the stunt coordinator. I would have said something else, but that's just what I said based on what I had to work with and I got to keep my God as the second unit director. Can you tell us which scenes you were tasked with shooting? Bits and pieces of a lot of things. One of Sam's favorite stories to tell, though, was how, when we were doing the climax of the film, he was up on the parapet of the castle that we built an act in California shooting a close up with Bruce Campbell and he looked over the wall and he saw me doing second unit of the armies charging the castle and I had guys on horsebacks and stunts and puppets of skeletons walking in the foreground and explosions and pyrotechnics, and he was looking at this huge shot that I was doing and this little shot that he was doing and he was saying what's wrong with his picture? HMM, how come Doug is having all the fun I did? I did a lot of stuff in the battle. I did stuff in kind. I'm all over the film. I think they first stuff I shot was think that jove pork going up Bruce Campbell's but in the mill sequence. One once watching Shawn of the dead with the listening and listening to the commentary to that, and there's a sequence in Shaun of the dead where he's getting ready for work and they do this montage like these rhaps and yeah, and and I was thinking that's really cool. And when I was watching the film the second and with the commentary, they said there are inspiration for this was the blacksmith scene from army of darkness, which was done with all these damp uns. I said I was by myself that. I thought, wait a minute, I directed that and then that like has become partly considered like Edgar Wright style. So what does that say? What I did, and I should be very specific, was at Sam's direction of the we ID storyboarded it. He was the one that very was very specific about how to do this Napsoom so I was executing his vision. There's a lot of me in that movie. Is a lot of ideas that I presented and, as with all of the films they did with Sam in the future, I'm not sure I can remember which are which at this point, this many years later. But yeah, so the work I did was really spread throughout the out the film. Mostly is was stuff that didn't involve the main unit,...

...but I I think I did a couple of shots with Bruce there. Later I would work with Bruce when I was a man unit director. I got to work with them a lot. Was it intimidating to sort of your first second unit directing job? You're dealing with so many extras and you know, Pire technics and all of that. was that intimidating for you, or did you sort of fall into it pretty easily? Who was intimidating? It was a kind of thing like the night before I was going to do it for the first time, my wife and I'd actually gone to see Thelma Louise, which is help daters at the time. Just as a film was starting, Thelma Louise were driving off to begin their road trip. It occurred to me that the next day I was going to have to walk on set for first time and and pretend like I knew what I was doing, and that was the moment I started to fill nervous. When I was on set, I not so much. I've actually really found that I liked the pressure of being unset and there's something quirky and my personality that when other people are stressed, I'd become very calm and I just kind of I thrived under under those conditions, which was a surprise to me. The other thing that was a surprise to me is I found a really like working with actors, and I'm not an actor myself, I never have acted and never intend to act, but I found a really loved working with actors. I learned a lot very quickly. I think one of the first lessons I learned was when doing that shot of the forkgoing at versus, but we had an oversized fork that was mounted in front of the camera and we were pushing it on the Dolly towards him, towards well, towards a double. We didn't have a lot of length for the shot is very short in the film now because and then I had to slow down so we would didn't run the camera off the tracks and I remember afterwards the DP was bill pope, said why didn't't you just run the camera off the tracks and I said well, because it would have shaken, it would look careable. So if yes, but we would have gotten three frames more of that shot because we're going to cut it when in Jars anyways, you know can't use it, but we can't use it when it slows down either. So just push it until you just running off the track get as much foot each other night. It was one of those moments like the of course iven done that and it got me moving down the path of thinking about directing from an editing standpoint. I learned that lesson well and I found it was very useful when we be doing things like where we were intending to tie two different sets together by doing a whip pan from one to another, where I just whip pan off so that we were looking at the craft service table, because I knew that as soon as the image was blurred we would be cutting. And I occasionally had DPIECES head if the cameras face and way am going to like that part of the set. I said, we don't have time. I promise you were not going to use these. Said I've been burned too many times that. I said, okay, you stand over there and and hold a sign that it don't use this, because we so that you know in the camera lands there we're not going to use its. It, but don't make me take the time to light that part of the seat. I promise am not going to use it. Just going to use this part. Just quick transition into another Sammurami film that you were the second director are on two dozen two spider man. How did that? How did that come to pass? Dam and I had had and work together for a couple of years and I was actually asked by one of my best friends, Jeff Lynch, who, when I told you about the group of high school students that were making films together that all went to wed Jeff Lynch was one of my classmates from Santa Bar high that it. He later became Sam and he's kind of head of story for a lot of his projects. And Jeff asked if I would come to help out on spider man and then I saw the storyboarding on that and at some points and I'm just asked if I would do the second in it. And I was one of by people, I think, and Jeff Lynch was. was another women, but jeff and I were the only two. They got credit. Were you doing mainly action stuff or just like yeah, a lot of action stuff and a lot of inserts. I did. I actually shot the first stuff with spider man as...

...spider man once he has his really that double montage mind. I said they armored car robbery, the the robbery of the Korean Delhi. That that whole montage. I did most of that. That's iconic work it. There was a number of shots that I was told not well, I we shot in second unit a bunch of inserts for the scene where Peter Parker gets bitten by the spider, Hmm, and we were shooting that at the Natural History Museum you in Los Angeles and the producer had told me we absolutely couldn't shoot anything that wasn't boarded because the schedule was so tight. But I got there I think I realized it was a shot I had in storyboard at that sequence and I realized it was a shot missing that we had to get. So I went against my orders and I shot it and it was an up it was just a plate. Was An upshot of like dropping down from the pillar, intended to have the spider coming at camera, because I thought before the Spider Bite Peter, we're going to want to see it coming at us. And it wasn't planned, it wasn't in the boards and that shot is a very first shot that I saw when I first saught the trailer for spider man and it's in, I think, every single trailer or for that movie. That's crazy to us because we are huge spider man fans. But did you shoot any of the ending fight? I don't believe that I did. The other thing that that you should know, spider man is the only thimb that I've ever been fired from. WHOA this scandal or yeah, yeah, I mean it was. At the time when it happened, I got called by Laura Ziskin and the the it was a producer. The first ad everybody basically told me you were getting fired because the studio is trying to control Sam. They can't fire Sam so they shot the person's standing next to him and they saw me as is. I guess what I was told. They considered the studio considered you as right Handman, so that by firing you, they thought they could control Sam. I'm not sure why they thought that was even a good idea to control Sam. was doing a great job. That's what I was told, but I also at the time thought, well, if I had done my job better, or if I even just had played the political game better, this would it happened so somehow I wanted to own and say, well, that's my responsibility. So I actually wasn't there when they shot the climax of how far along in the production did they did we were. Obviously we had been shooting for some time, because I shot shot the number of sequences already that when the films finally came out, I went to see it. I was because they said basically I was shooting action, that the action I was shooting would at work, and I think one of the reasons they thought that is because Sam and I had this notion that we wanted to do things in longer takes. At that time, especially at Sony, it's like American and filmmakers had just discovered Hong Kong movies, something that I'd actually been it's a territory hadn't mind me for a long time. If if you look at the pilot episodes of Hercules or Zena, you can see the influence I have from from Hong Kong cinema. Sony had just done Charlie's angels, which was was shot in very much a Hong Kong style with a lot of quick cutty, and Sam and I wanted to try to do something that was a little more balletic hacking. We wanted to do things in longer shots, so we designed the sequences, but it's like with the armored truck robbery, it's done in very few shots and because the ideas we wanted to really see spider man be athletic and it was the first time we were doing CGI human characters. I don't know that if the executives, when they saw the footage, they could figure out how it was going to fit together and how it is...

...going to look when you put this CGI character into it. When I did finally go to see the film, I realize that they used everything that I shot. They didn't reshoot anything, and then I got really angry, like I was willing to say, okay, I didn't do my job correctly, but they used everything. HMM, I didn't we shoot a single sequence that I did. So then then I got annoying. To take the conversation to perhaps the less sore subject, the Last Samurai movie that I really want to talk about, because it's one of my favorite movies, is the quicken the dead, and you did storyboards for that, and what was that like? That was great. I yes, I storyboarded every single shot in that movie. Back in those days, most of the time I was the only storyboard artist on a film. But yes, I got to. I got this storyboard every single shot in that film and I would have directed second unit on it, except at the same time they had offered me the opportunity to do main unit on the one of the Hercules TV movies real. So I there were two jobs I didn't get to do. One was storyboard brave heart, which I've been offered to me but then but I think I had a second unit directing job that I had to take instead, and then doing second unit and quick in the day, because how fun would it have been to do a Western like that? I just would have loved it. But I had the opportunity to direct man unit at that time, so I had to. I had to take that. But yeah, that was that was great and I've worked with Sam another projects since then. I was just working, as am with Sam on a picture that he is currently doing that I can't name, but you may probably know it already. So about your work and storyboards, I know it's unheard of for one artist to be tasked with doing every shot of a film like you just described. So, when you're doing every shot of a film, what level of detail are you're using? And also, like, what was your chosen medium and how long would it take you to do one? Just all about your process. The Art of storyboarding is the art of saying as much as possible possible with this few lines as possible. Well, it is to me. My process is generally I do a rough version of the entire sequence before I do any finished drawing. Ninety five percent of the time I don't get a chance to finish the drawings and make them look pretty because my roughs are clear enough that when I present them, they say these are buying, these are very legible. move on to the next sequence. Previously at work in Justin felt pain because I wanted to draw boards that would survive reproduction. You know, when I started out, we as your Rox to everything, but a copied everything, and if you did Pencil shading on your story boards it would just go to shit, went by the time of it was seen on set, and being seen on set was where it was important. We are not doing comic books, we're not doing finished works of art. As the sketches to to determine what the shots going to be so having the clarity of the shot, a composition to the function of the shot, the movement of the camera within the shot, all the information that you need invade every department was going to be in the shot so they can all do their job well. The most important part of storyboarding can be done without a lot of drawing experience. If you can do stick figures and draw arrows, that's ninety percent of the job. However, the other the the anatomy and perspective. That stuff is what you need to know in order to give somebody to hire you in the first place, because it generally don't hire people if all they can draw and stick figures. But if you don't know, if you're not an artist and you're going to do a film, it's still worthwhile doing storyboards. You should see some of Steven Spielberg's sketches. I have one here somewhere that he drew and we're working on BFG and he drew it in my sketch book at like a child's drawing, but they're clear there. You know what what he wants. So something that caught my eye while looking through your IMDB was one of your earliest credits was on the...

...black cauldron as additional story contributions. And, as I'm sure you know, the Black Caldron has something of like a cursed release because you know they said it was it was so, so crazy dark for Disney film and that it was thus heavily edited, and I was wondering if you if you saw the the or are knew of the the dark version hidden from the world. Well, I'll tell you. The version that came out was not nearly as dark as the one we wanted to do, but I don't know if I would you actually use the word dark. I would just say substitutive. The I was very excited when we had the opportunity to work on black cauldron. When I had the opportunity to work on Black Caldron, I had read the Lloyd Alexander Books when I was in high school and I was a fan of them and I felt like it was it. The material could have been a breakthrough film, especially you have to understand at the time when I started at DISY with one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven, it was a year star wars came out. John Musker, Brad Bird, Jerry Reese, Daryl van siders and Harry saving and I all went to the crummins Chinese theater the second weekend as star wars was out and we watched it. It was a very exciting time to be starting your career in the film business because you felt like the roles just changed and was also it was a first time that you wherever you went, people were talking about it on street corners and coffee shops. It but phenomena. But it also made us all feel like we've got to up our game, we've got to do something that can reach a bigger audience. So the notion that we can make an animated film that wasn't just for children was very prevalent and a lot of the younger people who are working at the studio and a lot of our our hearts and minds and the source material seem like a length itself. So we really wanted to do a film that wasn't his. It's very about good versus evil, but about this kid that had aspirations, made mistakes and redeemed himself. So there was a different version of the version that I was working on with Danny Pete. Young has another story artist and antscary old timer was working on it. A lot of people contributed to that and even John Musker and Ron Clemens ended up joining the story department there before they started directing, and all of us together were working to try to make this a film with more substance to it, and I believe we were succeeding. And then some people came into power that were sort of in between, like the Willie Ryderman era and the and the new renaissance era that just had nope, this is a story of good versus evil and and it's God and the devil and the good guys are just going to be nice and the bad guys are been be mean. So not what you want. It not what we wanted at all and and in truth, that was another thing that facilitated my decision to to leave Disney when I did, to move on. That felt like it was going to be heartbreaking to watch that crumble. I saw the film when it was first release. I have not seen it since then and I recently did an interview about that, talking about the history and the progress of black cauldron, and I feel like I should watch it again and maybe I would judge it differently now. I also feel like the source material deserves a second looking and I hope that Disney will do another version of they were talking about me in a live action version and I think it. I think it's worth doing. I think there is a better version of that story to be had and a potential franchise be had from the Lloyd Alexander Source Material. So, speaking of live action movies, you've also in addition to being a storyboard artist, you've worked as head of story at the third floor and we were wondering if you could sort of explain what your role is there, what exactly a Haad a story does and just the work that you do on movies there. Well, the third floor primarily does pre visualization for...

...movies, although they do a lot of other kinds of visually. They do a lot of post visualization as well now. So they're just they just describe themselves as a visualization company. Previous is mostly considered computer animation, but in truth anything that helps you visualize the film beforehand is pre visual a nation. So the third floor, one of the things that makes it different than some other previous companies is that they consider storyboards to be part of the process, to be to be pre visualization and there are projects that we do through the board that are only done in storyboard. So I run that, that department, and so I manage other storyboard artists that are working on though for me managing its just I hired the people. Stay out of their way. That's my management dialic normally, but sometimes I will be leading the team of artists. On other films, mean the lead the lead artist, meaning generally that means as they give me this, the sequences said, have the most problems to try to solve. But also at the third floor we are have started this original content initiative. So I am also supervising the development of new material. So we started this start up inside the third floor called story at it and you can actually see our work as story ATICCOM and what we're doing is we are creating a lot of short form content, is digital comics now, as a way of testing out material. My philosophy about creating original content is that you create a lot of content and that you don't just come up with an idea for a screenplay and spend three years of your life polishing it. I think it's important to learn how to Polish work and make it as good as possible, but I think you're much better off if you spend if you do ten projects a year rather than one project every ten years. So the idea of what we're doing with storiotic is we are we are creating a lot of content in and inexpensive form and the self that works, we grow. That is so will go from doing digital comics to doing animatics and then eventually to doing full lineimation. The company has aspirations in and is currently moving into finals animation. Now, by the way, and I should just put a plug in here, storyatic features a digital comics format called scroll on which I invented in patented. Very cool. So, as someone who doesn't know that much about Previs, say, when you did previous for the avengers, like, how how developed are these? Are these visuals early? They're very yes, yes, you know, we back in back in the seventies, in the pre Spielberg Lucas are A. directors needed to be generalists. They needed to like know a little bit of everything and have good managerial skills to pull it all together. It's bill brick and Lucas. When they came along, it ushered in the era of the fanboy directors. These were people that grew up on movies and we're passionate about movies and had an encyclopedia knowledge of what had come before. And now I feel like we are in the area of that what I call compartmentalized filmmaking, where things are broken up into and areas of the complexity. But the it is pretty amazing. If you watch some of the third floors reels, yeah, I think that they're available on the third four website, you can see how close the prevas is followed by the filmmakers. A lot of times it is given directly to the second unit directors to execute. Now, when I say that at that's not to say that the maining of director doesn't have their hands all over it, because they are involved. They work with the previous company to plot the film's out. But...

...if you're working on something like a marvel film, it is so complicated and there's so many moving parts and they're so expensive that they plan out the action seems very carefully and for that reason many times when the previs is finalized by the director and the producers, it's executed in that manner and then it's usually edited down later. But the whole idea of doing previsis you throw out less because you're planning it more carefully up front. So you just mentioned Steven Spielberg and you've previously mentioned the BFG and I was just wondering what's it like to make storyboards for Steven Spielberg, because I have them scribble in your notebook. Yeah, I was great. I work with Stephen on two projects now. Did BFT and ready player one with WHO and then also did a little bit of work on a project with Hank he and Tom Hanks that they're doing for Apple TV, World War Two project. Yeah, I actually got to meet Tom Hanks for the first time and shake his hand a month before he was diagnosed with coronavirus. He was like for the first celebrity. But Spielberg? Yeah, you know, I I became really good friends with Rick Carter, who was a production designer and bft and Rick Carter had also been the production designer on Jurassic Park and dust parts previously. Was the only felt that that I actively pursued. I wanted to work on that and I put together samples of my work and I mailed them to Rick Carter and I got a very nice rejection letter from him and then. So when I got to know Rick, when I was working with him on bft, I told him this story. I think he was embarrassed, age and hearty. But I'll tell you the most important thing, I believe, about working with people like Steven Spielberg or really, from my standpoint, the secret to my success, such as it is. I never tried to figure out what Steven Spielberg wanted, no more than I try to figure out with Sam Ramy would want or first time director would want. My brain doesn't work that way. I always think what the story wants. I'm I'm that is my dictate. I always treat my job as if I work for the story. Now, if I'm told to do something that I think violates the story, then I just it becomes a drawing exercise to me. I'd do the best job I can with it, but I was still my obligation is to say what I think will benefit the story, and I realize when we were on bft that some point I felt like I was the only person that was thinking that way. Everybody else was trying to second guess what he wanted, and I think that does that was doing steven a disserves and would do any director that you're working for disservice because which is an idea he could come up with himself? He'll come up with it himself. There were many times when I would preface ideas that I had by saying, can I tell you something that you may hate? And Stephen would every time I did that, he'd get this big grin on his face because he knew I was going to tell him something he hadn't thought up. And I'd say half of the time I did that he said I'm not going to do that in here's why, and he had a reason for it which I could except move on. The other half the time it became something that he thought that's great, that's that's you know that. It's taking it in a direction it should go in, and he is enough of a visionary that he he loves doing something that he hasn't done before. So I had a very good time working with him. I had, I enjoyed, a very good working relationship. So, just to bring up the one of the last few big movies that we're going to talk about here, you've worked on God's the King of the monsters and God will o verse Kong and you know, we were just wondering and I've seen a bunch of your storyboards and some of them are just like completely what is in the movie, and I was wondering...

...what. Is there a difference in process when you're working on something as the budgets increase and as the, you know, amount of vfx houses working on it increases, or is it, as you say, just because you're working just with stories, it just sort of the same process mostly? Well, it's always important if you're going to be a storyboard artist. There are three aspects to the job. There's drawing, their storytelling and there's filmmaking, and you need to study all three of those things. Though, even though story is my main guiding light in all of this, you also need to know how to actually make films and one shot you can get, what shot you can't get. The you have to temper everything with that. So the interesting thing about working on big budget films is that for some reason, the higher the budget, the more restrictions you have. Two more the higher the budget the film, the more you hear we can't afford that, and on lower budget films you everybody knows that there's not a lot of money. So I found lifense. Well, I have an idea, I don't know if we can do it, and the producers would usually say, well, tell us what it is and let us see if we can figure out a way to give it to you. They had to be clever. They were. They wanted to be smart enough to come up with the way of making something look really good on a low budget. When you're on a big budget film, it's like everybody expects the budget to get out of control. So they're just saying no right away. Two things. So keeping the reins on the big ship. Yeah, but they here's another important secret. If the story works, it'll be less expensive to me and it'll be better. When the story doesn't work, you start throwing things at it that cost a lot of money to try to distract people. If you can tell a story, that's just the reason that is is because if the story works, you're usually telling the story about what's going on with the character, and then some Godzilla destroying the city behind you is incidental to it or it's part of the you know the as part of the bigger picture, but the entertainment value is in the human story of what of the people that are in the middle of this this huge e then. So the more you can keep it focused on story, the more cost effective the final product is going to be, the better is going to be in the easier's going to be the film. The last one of your early credits that I was curious about was the lost boys and how you are a visual effects and design consultant. Am I see you're telling me these credits that I have like that and like on the black called night. I didn't remember that those were my credits in those days, that lost boys I had. I worked with a lot of visual effects companies and one of them was a company called dream quest. I was working with on lost boys with I believe it was Eric rebig and white Yateman, but the do you guys Eric as is still actually both of those guys are present. They both have been directors and their own right. But yes, we were working on lost boys. I had in the same way that I got hired on army of darkness to the Visual Effects Company introvision, I got hired work on lost boys to the Visual Effects Company specifically to to draw sequences that had shots that they were going to have to create. So they brought me into the process to work with with their REVIC and Joel Schumaker. Now I was going to ask how was Joel Shoebarker, because he seems that he was an interesting guy. He, he, he liked to make visual effects films without visual effects in them, if at all possible. I had very little interactions with him. If you remind me, they'll tell you. This. Would say. We to a story about working on total recall, also there. But on this I do remember going to the set over at Warner Brothers when they were shooting lost boys and having these storyboards and we were breaking from lunch and Eric said...

...to Joel can we can you look at these? And he said, do I have to do it now, and here said, well, we're shooting this first up after lunch, so yeah, kindy you do. It's a very okay. So that was my my memory of it. So we showed him the boards and he approved them and we went had that was my interaction. What was your time on total recall? Don't recalls also brought in through dream quest working with Eric Brabig with the director. Helped me out who the director. They did the recall. I don't know why I'm not remembering Paul, Paula Verehoven, Paul Arewin? Yes, thank you, of the robocop fame. Robocop fame. Yes, me and show girls, and I haven't seen Joe Girls, but I he also did soldier of Orange, which is a great film. Yeah, so we went to show storyboards to Paul very hope and and I remember. I can't remember what the boards were, but I guess remember him looking at him and he going yes, but you want to do it that way, would you? And US going, how do we respond to that? No, of course you wouldn't do that way. This with the these are the joke boards. Where are the real boards? Oh, we must have left them behind. Will bring those tomorrow. We'll Trent. Do you think it's time for the BIG KAHUNA final question? Yeah, I think it's time. So what was the last great film you watched? And it can be a rewatcher first time viewing. I have to say I really did enjoy Shaun of the dead. Book about that earlier. I was just surprised at woulded touching romantic comedy. It was the zombies and I also say I really loved second season and the first season of the boys that Guess Watch. I had actually worked on a presentation for a film version of that that was going to be directed by Adam McKay, Adamka. Wow. Yeah, we did Telladaca Knights and yeah, the big short, yes and vice. Yeah, yes, we were going to. He wanted to do this and I read a bunch of the comics at that time and I wasn't a big fan of the comics, but Sony said nobody would want to see an r rated superhero movie. This was before deadpool came out. So that was their their call at that time and one of the things that I guess one of the reasons I was so impressed by it is because I felt like the series really did really maximize the material and I think that the series is better than the source material, and I don't say that about a lot of things, but I feel like they they solve some of the main issues that I had with the source material and I just got really engaged. Yeah, those are those are great picks, and it doesn't hurt that you directly inspired one of them. Now, but I don't, but but I do feel like I have a little piece of it, so I'll pick that. Well, Trent do on a closes out yes, thank you so much to doug left lift for coming on our show. He's worked on such projects as spider man, the avengers, God's all versus Kong and was the second unit director for our film Sam Remy's army of darkness, as well Sammy Spider man. Thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for having me. Welcome back after the interview. Wasn't that freaking dope? I really enjoyed myself. That was awesome. Fo shizzle. All right, enough of the hip hop talk. That was a great intervieew, I'd say, Trent. No, yeah, NOS, freaking awesome. Thanks, Doug Leaftlaire, for your time...

...and effort. You're you're really great man here, a gentleman and a scholar. If you go to our instagram page, you'll be able to see doug graciously showing a storyboard or set of storyboards. He tried to show us some that he did for Steven Spielberg or some of Steven Spielberg's store boards, but he said once. He said once while working with Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg. I just feel that they need to use this full name because Brearley, do I have any stories with him as a carer. Steven Spielberg did a little doodle of the shot composition he wanted and Doug Leffler said that it was very simple. But and so we wanted to see it, but he couldn't find it in one of his many storyboard notebooks. But if we ever, if we ever get the chance to find it, you'll be the first people in the audience to see it. Yeah, if you go to our instagram page, if you go to our instagram page, you'll see him, you know, just a little screenshot him holding up his beautiful storyboards us. They are our smiling little faces because we're so blessed with his his companies. And he said that he would email us when and if he found the Spielberg thing. When and if that day comes, we'll put it on instagram. So, in conclusion, follow us on all social media. We're on twitter, we're on Instagram, we are on Google plus. I've never heard of that and I'm a cohost of the show, but we're, you know, on s bottomy act. Google plus does not exist anymore cool or on spotify or on Apple podcast and if you're listening to this on Apple podcasts, I have a list of demands here that Peter from legal has laid out and part can you read them? Yeah, sure. So they say you have to go to the itunes apple podcast section, find our show craft services. Type that in, get there, scroll all the way down. Then you're going to see a star rating system. You're going to give it a five star review. You can give. I'll let you give a four and a half star. We wait. All right, we're first of all, there's no halfstar reviews on apple podcast. Okay, then you have to give a five star review. We recently received our first one star review and we really yeah, it was all five. We had twenty five one star reviews. Oh No, no, it's we had twenty five five star reviews, and then we got our twenty six and it was a onestar review. So shout out to that person. You Suck. We hate you, Trent. That might be Peter. You went through all that effort just to say you don't like us. There's almost in to our show. Come on, Oh, Trent, we didn't even mention this in our opening, but the the listeners don't know this because we are responsible adults releasing our episodes on a weekly basis. Yeah, but Trent and I have not. We've not actually been on call with each other in about almost a month. Yeah, true, we recorded part, you know, parthen I, the the the podcast lifestyle will wear you down, and during the month of June, part and I both need to take a little vacation. So we got all of our episodes done beforehand, so we could not think about movies for like a month. Well, I guess we probably both watch several films during this time, but not having to not having to discuss an analyze them, was really kind of a blessing. With that being so, we are back. I was going to say should be permanently because, you know, destroy the show, being how much we enjoyed our twenty one. I did. I DID ENJOY WAY NOT HMM, but maybe this is sort of a lucky charm situation where we wouldn't enjoy the time on, we wouldn't enjoy the marshmallows unless we had all that gross. I guess that's true. Cereal laying around good, good way to bring it all back to the to the beginning. Yeah, if you've listened to all our of this episode, bless your soul, and you're the only person who gets that this full circle joke. What comes next? I don't out any...

...next week. Next week we are going to be discussing army of darkness. It's just going to be Trent and I are going to have a good time. And then maybe the week after that, maybe something fun is coming. Maybe, no, I don't know. Maybe it's something we actually have no idea what we're doing, but we know we're doing it. This an in person recording. We still haven't decided on the topic, but maybe this is all planned out. Actually. Yeah, we said we wanted to be a quote, something fun and something that isn't a standard discussion. So maybe it'll be a ranking, maybe it'll just be a round table conversation. Maybe parth and I will fight shirtless and you guys will just hear the audio from that, though, just be a lot of meat slapping together. Anyways, I think that's enough of that. Yeah, no, but the fifty first episode is basically as big of a deal as the fifty. So I guess come back next week if you want, but if you don't, well, now it's all the lead up to the hundred. Yeah, this was all set up. I feel like our next goal is so far away. Well, we won't it. Just on our current schedule, we won't get there for like a year, like fifty yea, I think a little bit less. But yeah, will be old men. Yeah, will be twenty one years of age. Will Be Clinkin Bruise. All right, I think it's okay. Barth said mention of alcohol on my family friendly podcast. Nothing, not happening, not this. We are rate it explicit, which I like. Yeah, because we can't wait. I say it, say a bad word, freak. All right. Well, see you next week, listeners. Hi, guys, follow us on a social media love US please. We need your dunches. Shower us with love and affection. Shower with us in general. No one in a free saying state of mind. Start the POD. So clearly, parth and I aren't doing too hot and we need your help and Shane and the membrane. That's us, and say there, all right, that's enough of that. Bye.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (120)