SDCC ’13 Recap: Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries Panel

By July 19, 2013

What’s the key to making a good action film? Lucky for us, Entertainment Weekly’s Visionary Panel is full of writer-directors willing to answer that question! According to Edgar Wright, take personal experience and then “add maximum devastation.” Marc Webb enjoys placing in small, meaningful moments between characters. Alfonso Cuaron believes that creating a sense of real time – specifically by shooting elongated scenes in a single take – is imperative. After all, the audience is subtly aware that cutting between shots mean that there’s some sort of manipulation, including the placement of stunt doubles.

Edgar prefers to blur the line between stunt doubles and actors to give the film a realistic feel. In Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Martin Freeman both did their own stunts, while some of the stuntmen (including teenagers!) were given speaking roles. What happens when an actor injures himself performing a stunt? They keep on going. Pegg broke his wrist on set, but didn’t admit it until the following day; before his scenes, he would remove his black cast.

Marc drops the obligatory accidental “f-bomb;” Edgar jokes that it’s fine, because Marc is talking about Edgar’s film. A few minutes later, Edgar drops one of his own while relaying a frustrating moment on set. With no ability to keep passersby off the set of Shaun of the Dead (legally, filmmakers can’t restrict people from wandering through), a drunk man popped in and swore at them.

As frequently happens at Comic Con, the writers spend the next few minutes perusing the back of their name placards, reading the rules about swearing. The audience begins to clap and laugh; according to Edgar, those under the age of 18 have a lot to learn.

Alfonso’s accent is frequently a source of humor; Sandra Bullock and George Clooney were in competition to see who could best impersonate him. Apparently, neither was very good. And, in the UK, where the cast and crew is not used to his accent, people wind up doing the things they think he says…not what he actually says.

What should a person trying to enter the industry as a director do? Try on many hats, the panelists suggest. Alfonso was once a boom operator; Edgar suggests stepping in front of the camera and getting a feel for the actor’s experience.