The director of Rogue One and Godzilla, Gareth Edwards, has been chatting about how his latest film achieved a deceptively expensive look.
Even when he was wowing audiences at film festivals as a young filmmaker creating incredible-looking shorts, Gareth Edwards’ work has always been trailed by deep audience admiration for the innovative ways that he engineers his films. That would continue into his feature career too, with his debut movie, Monsters receiving wide admiration for looking far more expensive than it actually was.
Such proficiency with digital effects and strikingly visual filmmaking techniques would see Edwards quickly progress onto blockbuster productions like Godzilla and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. According to the man himself, it also played into convincing New Regency that his latest film, The Creator could be made for a far smaller price tag than the studio were calculating, given that the film includes exotic science-fiction locales and grandly-impressive effects sequence.
From the footage we’ve seen so far, the film does indeed look like it belongs right up there in the same production budget as a huge effects-driven blockbuster film but Edwards has revealed (in a recent preview Q&A that was covered by SlashFilm) that due to several innovative approaches, the team behind The Creator were able to make it for a rather cost-effective $80m.
So how did they do it? Edwards has explained some of the processes, including a focus on location work rather than set-building and green screen production, stating, ‘We didn’t really use any green screen. There was occasionally a little bit here and there, but very little. If you do the maths, if you keep the crew small enough, the theory was that the cost of building a set, which is typically like $200,000, you can fly everyone to anywhere in the world for that kind of money. So it was like, ‘Let’s keep the crew small and let’s go to these amazing locations.’
On top of that, Edwards also mentioned that a key element to keeping the budget down was a faster lighting rig that allowed far quicker shot setups, adding: ‘I could move and suddenly the lighting could readjust. And what normally would take 10 minutes to change was taking four seconds. So we would do 25-minute takes where we would play out the scene three or four times and just give everything this atmosphere of naturalism and realism that I really wanted to get, where it wasn’t so prescribed. You’re not putting marks on the ground and saying, ‘Stand there.’ It wasn’t that kind of movie.’
Finally, any digital effects work was added over the existing live action footage rather than created wholly by VFX artists, explains Edwards which also saved cash too: ‘Then afterwards, when the film is fully edited,” explains Edwards, ‘get the production designer, James Cline, and other concept artists to paint over those frames and put the sci-fi on top.’ Everyone was like, ‘Sounds great,’ but basically, we had to go and prove it to them.’
The footage revealed thus far certainly looks impressive and the film’s take on the dangers of artificial intelligence couldn’t be more timely so we’re hoping The Creator makes a splash when it releases in a month’s time. Here’s the synopsis: ‘Amidst a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, Joshua (John David Washington) is a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan). He is soon recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war – and mankind itself.’
Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Allison Janney and newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles also feature, and in case you want to look at those visuals again, we’ve added the main trailer below. We’re hoping the film’s release on September 29th (via 20th Century Studios) marks the beginning of a successful (and belated) second act for a talented British filmmaker who is long overdue a comeback. Here’s that trailer below…