We had the pleasure of visiting Bill Condon at The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 edit bay back in June, and we can now release our comprehensive Q&A with the director!
This is part one of the Q&A – part two will be released later today. We spoke with Condon after watching new footage that was to be screened at San Diego Comic-Con in July.
Bill: Do you want to talk first or then see another one or what should we do next?
Jack Pan: Do you want to see the second clip?
(Laughter, Everyone starts shaking their head yes)
Laura (Lex): Or you could just play the whole movie, we’d be down with the whole movie going, you know (everyone laughs)
(They then roll a second clip of Emmett and Bella arm wrestling)
Bill: There you go, probably days from our goal. That rock is going to look like a rock on the inside. (everyone laughs)… Yeah, so you are seeing all the flaws. (He’s commenting on so of the CGI still being in the rough stages. We saw the wrestling scene between Bella and Emmett. In it they rest their arms on what is supposed to be a large rock which looked a lot more like foam because it was still in process. In our viewing Kristen also tackled what looked like a carton cougar.)
Jack Pan: So do you guys, maybe quickly just want to run down your sites and we can start the Q&A?
(Everyone agrees, some say sure)
Kaleb: I’m Kaleb Nation, I’m from TwilightGuy.com
Heidi: I’m Heidi, from Twilight Facebook
Lee: Lee from Twilight Moms
Kimmy: I’m Kimmy from HisGoldenEyes.com
Michelle: I’m Michelle from BellaandEdward.com
Laura: Laura from Twilight Lexicon
Kallie: Kallie from TwilightSeriesTheories.com
Sheila: Sheila from Team-Twilight.com
Elena: Elena from Twilightish
Becca: Nikki and Becca from Letters to Twilight
Erin: Erin from Twilightish
Andrew: Andrew from Twilight Source
Bill: (Hand Gestures to Jack Morrissey) Jack from Team Jack
Jack: (Looks at Bill) Team Bill Condon
Bill: (Looks at people sitting to his left) Ian Slater, Ginny Katz. We edited the movie together. (Looks at back of the room) And Greg Yolan… in charge of everything else
Jack M: Greg Yolan from Team Jack
Greg (waves): I’m Greg
Jack Pan: So who wants to start? (No one says anything)… They were all so blown away.
Jack: I couldn’t follow it
(Everyone laughs again)
Laura (Lexicon): I don’t know, I guess I’ll dive in. The teaser (the first one) came out today and I think we all probably played that like 3 million times, not that there is anything wrong with that. And one of the things I really liked is you saw glimpses of alternative points of view…
Laura (Lexicon): Can you talk a little bit about how you did those; maybe that’s a collaboration between you, Melissa Rosenberg, and Stephenie Meyer, to decide which are the alternative points of view, and how much fun was that to film something that is not in the book, other than saying we traveled some place and came back. Like how much fun was that, to go to that space?
Bill: Ya, I know, exactly like, for example; The Denali’s right? In the book they come, and it just felt like, to get our lead characters on the road together, in 3 different areas, was like an important thing just for the scope of the movie. I think you’ll see. You get a glimpse of it from the size of the main title. With this movie, it’s all about scope in a weird way, and it’s all about like, canvasing the world for all these vampires. So, that actually was, in very early days we made that decision to do that, It’s a challenge because, we introduce, I think it’s 23 new vampires, right? And, we do it in the second act, and by the 3rd act they’re on the battlefield and you have to get to know them very quickly. Actually it was great fun for the actors. Cause they all realized that they only had a moment or two, where they had to land what it was that they did. So it was part of what drew me to it. That it is a completely new part of Twilight that is getting introduced in this movie.
Laura (Lexicon): Any one of those alternate point of view your favorite or is that like picking between your kids?
Bill: Yeah, it is. Definitely.
Kallie: Well, I’ll go next. You mention the 23 new characters. I mean, that is profound to me. We were talking about it at breakfast, that that’s just a huge number of people to be working with on one set. We saw a glimpse of it in the trailer. Of all of them lined up together.
Bill: Yeah, Yeah
Kallie: How was that as a director? I mean it’s kind of a feat to tackle that many characters.
Bill: It was like, putting on a play. You know, we did something that you never do in movies. As you know from the book its 100 pages of the book. Its 25 pages in the script. Taking precious time with the crew standing around. We took a day and I staged it like a play, and we did the entire 25 pages. And we just like, beat by beat by beat we had the actors. So that it was just like staging a musical number almost. You know, cause you’ll see it. In order to make that feel like it has life. It doesn’t get monotonous to be there. I don’t think it does you know, it’s part of like really making sure that you are doing very different things through all that, section of the movie. But it was good.
Andrew: And do they equal amount of screen time? Like how was that balanced out?
Bill: No. Um, you know some of them have more. The Denali’s are more prominent, I would say. Garrett is more prominent. The Irish people are more, you know, jolly Irish people.
Bill: Some of them, you know, I think that you couldn’t do that honestly. Some of them were there to kind of fill out the sense of being across the world. But I have to say each of the actors again, even they, had their moments. They had little things that made them kind of pop.
Kaleb: How close is what we just saw here to the finished version without adding CGI and things like that?
Bill: Right, it’s the cut. So, the cut is done. [Note: the footage in the first clip was identical to what was shown at Comic Con]But the big thing is, it’s all Bella, you know, whatever little Spider Monkey thing is there, won’t be there yet. All those things, when she gets on the rock for example, she, the whole point of it is that she just finds a…she creates her own hold by basically, pushing through the rock[referencing the scene where Kristen Stewart scales the rock to get at the climber and was reacting to non-existent falling debris]. So that’s going have a lot of debris, a lot of stuff as she’s going, going down. She’s creating all this stuff so that all these elements aren’t in there yet. But the cut is the cut.
Jack M: Laura was nervous over dinner last night that it was going to be like last year’s edit bay visit where you got the opening Volturi scene, and …
Bill: Oh, and then it goes away
Greg: You guys were responsible for that (jokes)
Bill: That’s right
Laura: We jinxed it [At last year’s visit the websites saw an entire scene that was originally slated to start the movie. It was set in Volterra and it was the Volturi being informed that Bella and Edward were getting married. The scene heavily featured Marcus, Aro, Caius, Felix, and Demitri and a receptionist that was given to Felix and Demetri for lunch. It was cut from the final print because it was felt that it was more important to get to the Bella and Edward connection right away.]
Laura: You talk about the 23 which, that’s got to be an amazing job just to cast 23 people and you’ve got all sorts of people. Of those 23 vampires, which was the easiest one to find and which was the hardest one to find?
Bill: Ooh that’s a good question. Umm, you know like Lee Pace was like an obvious Garrett. So that just happened. There’s some of them, you see them, and that’s it you know. The hardest, you know, the Denali sisters, just getting them all to feel like they are from the same family, but having those different qualities, that was sort of a mix and match. Took a little time.
Lee: Do you prefer to shoot so tight that there is very little room for variation or based on the collaborative nature of putting together final cut, how much is collaboration and how much is deliberate in terms of choice? Or is that just situational?
Bill: Well, it’s all collaboration here and obviously these movies get created by large part in this room with the three of us[referring himself, Ian Slater, Ginny Katz . So I have to say at this movie it’s really new for me. We have 2,000 effects shots. I think that’s as many as Avatar. So, it’s like an animated movie. The last, that thing on the field, I don’t really want to promote this cause I feel like it takes away from the magic of it, but that was, as you know, all on green screen stage. So we’re, between that and you know the powers and every part of it feels like its still being created. We’re still, we have these sessions every day where we look at shots, maybe the 20th version of a shot, so it feels as though we’re still in production too you know. (Looks over at Ginny Katz) Ginny you want to say anything more about that?
Ginny: No. (Everyone laughs) You said it. I mean there are multi cameras all the time so there are a lot of choices.
Kallie: Well based on that, having filmed both the movies at the same time, I kind of already feel like I know your answer and what it’s going to be, but was it good or bad, I mean what was it, what was the good, what was the bad, of having them spaced out so far, being released.
Bill: It’s funny I was with, I shouldn’t say. I was with Eric Feig the other night and he was saying they are thinking of doing the last Hunger Games as two movies, and what advice would you give the director and I was like don’t do it (Everyone Laughs). I think that’s going to take even longer to shoot but ,yeah I would say, having to do it, distance and going through the experience of movie one was helpful, then in putting movie two together. At the same time it’s …we’re cutting stuff that we shot a year and a half ago, we’re recently cutting, so it does feel like God it’s a long time. I’m eager. When we originally started, the original idea was going to come out in July, if you remember, then it got pushed. So I am kind of at that point where I’m just so excited to show it to you. I want people to see it now. I don’t want to wait anymore then you do. But we needed the extra time though; it was bigger than we thought.
Becca: Did you touch part two at all, while you were editing part one?
Bill: Ginny always cuts right up to the camera. And Ian too.
Jack M: You want to explain to them that term, cutting up to the camera?
Bill: Like would go home on Friday and see everything that we had shot up to a few days before. So we had a cut of both movies before we started BD1.
Jack M: One long movie.
Ginny: We set part two aside, concentrated on what we needed to do first and then when that was done we were all ready.
Andrew: This question may be like really direct, but what does happen at the end of this movie. Cause like in the trailer, there’s this build up.
Greg: Jack’s sitting close enough to reach over and go like that (makes motion like picking him up) to you.
Jack Pan: You have an idea of what happens.
Bill: Have you seen Prometheus? (Everyone laughs)
Laura (Lexicon): You talk a little about the CGI, and all that going on. These vampires all have different powers. We saw a little bit of it in the trailer. We could see what they were doing with Benjamin, with the water, and if you could pause it just exactly right you kind of caught what was going on with Alec. That was a real tough pause. Thank you very much four times, to get that. So how did you discuss with the actors like this is what. I mean obviously they read and this is what their power is. Did you discuss with them, this is kind of how we thought this was going to be approached? How did you go about that?
Bill: No, with each one of them, Rami Malek for example, he was really, he came with all these variations on where that power comes from. Is it from here, is it from here? [points to his forearm, then wrists, then finger tips] You know how his physical movements would cause these huge, you know, control the elements basically. How he could do that. He does it. He has like three big scenes, three different big things that he does. He was wonderful, the way he internalized it. He sort of, you can’t see much there, cause that’s him showing off in the first scene, but in the other ones he takes incredible pleasure in what he can do. So um, yeah, I think um, Cameron [Cameron Bright who plays Alec] had been waiting a long time to show what he can do. So he was totally into it. He’s like a “gangsta” vampire. (Everyone laughs).
Nikki: The first one has a definite look and feel to it. This one feels very new and clean and contemporary. And just from what we saw, a little bit different. What’s the thinking behind that?
Bill: You know it’s funny, cause we even, like very early until it became to unreal and I thought probably a mistake, but when I first got involved, I thought this movie should be in 3d. Because we are crossing over into Bella. We always heard what they do when they hunt and what they do when they come home and what it’s like to see at night, to be able to see so clearly, but we never experienced it. Now we get to. So even though we didn’t do that, you can see like, even that shot going over her shoulder, that’s shot with hi-def camera [a scene of Bella running through the forest at break-neck speeds during her first hunt]. So it’s the first thing that’s not on film. Just to get that super clarity that happens from her point of view. So yeah it does, I have to say, you know, ultimately they are going to be one movie. And that’s going to be an interesting thing, I haven’t even actually looked at it that way yet. In fact, we’re just starting to put that together.
(frantic gesturing starts among the executives in the room. Someone mumbles to Bill, “I don’t think that info is out there yet.” More chatter, Someone “well we could have guessed someone would do that at some point.”)
Laura: We heard nothing
Bill: But um, this one is really, it does have a different feel, no question.
Sheila: Do you feel you changed kind of your vision from the first one to the second one, because it does feel very different.
Bill: No. I think it was because obviously, we shot them at the same time. It was always meant to have a different feel. You know it’s all informed by Bella, you know it’s always Bella. First movie, its Bella’s intimate experiences, you know with all these incredibly important moments in her life. And then in this movie, it’s one big idea, vampire mother. And I guess who turns into a warrior. But it is about following her journey. And that kind of informed everything.