Chris Weitz talked with us for thirty minutes. After five we knew New Moon was in good hands, after ten we knew he was a genius, and after fifteen well…you read and you decide. He’s definitely one of those “who would you want in a foxhole” kind of guys.
Chris Weitz Interview- part 1
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Transcript by Kara of Twilight Moms, Matt of Twilight Source/Imprint, Laura of Twilight Lexicon
Chris: Where Bella meets Laurent in the meadow, it was a two day scene and in between the two days it snowed and so we arrived in the morning at 6:00 and it was snowing, about 4 inches of snow. So, we had to scramble to shift our schedule around. Do all kinds of stuff.
Q: How do you deal with lighting continuity when you are dealing with such drastic weather situations?
Chris: Well of course what we hope for in all cases is gray weather. We’re in this weird position of wanting bad weather. We want light rain or gray at all times. We don’t always get it, so when we don’t, we use gigantic scrims hanging from big condors to block off as much as we can. But then there’s this continual torture to Javier our DP (director of photography) because you can sort of shade off an area where actors are acting but in the background we bright—shafts of light coming through—and of course there’s vampire weather as well. Sometimes we can get away with a sunny day in Forks, but never on a day when Edward is around because we don’t want to give away the diamond stuff. So, it really, you know I’ll be so happy when we get to a stage in about a week and we can stop worrying about the weather.”
Q: So, you’re moving to an interior set?
Chris: We’ll be moving to the interiors in a week from today. So there‘s just only one more week to freak out about the weather a bit. We’ve been knocked around a bit. There’s like a Twilight weather curse, slightly. You end up not getting the weather you want on a given day. It will be sun on the day you want rain and then the one day you want sun…
Q: So is all this [indicating the Bella’s house set] going to stay up though?
Chris: You know it’s funny I’ve been knocking it around in my head what the best thing to do would be. I would imagine what they are going to do is to disassemble it. Because I mean you know it looks great, but it’s not really up to code. I’m not sure that it would withstand a BC winter and everything. I think probably what they’ll do is take it apart and put it into storage and build it back up again while still I imagine maintaining a rent on this land would be my best guess.
Q: So we can see that people can actually go in the house?
Chris: Yeah well the interesting thing is in certain angles it is perfectly dressed. But if you were to look at other angles you could see that it is just an empty core. So that when Jacob jumps in the window, which he is going to do eventually, then we have enough to be inside the window to have Bella step back as he comes in, but you wouldn’t see the other way around into the window- then we flip to the interior- but hopefully when it all comes to the movie and editing it will all be seamless in the way it comes together. You’ll never notice that kind of stuff so its a smooth cut.
Q: Was it intimidating coming into a fandom with such intense fans?
Chris: Yeah- I mean on the one hand it is, but on the other hand I really feel like everyone wants the movie to be good and everyone has been very encouraging and supportive there haven’t been… things have felt very positive toward me- of course I have been avoiding the internet because I don’t want to get to caught up-
My responsibility is to the readership, and my responsibility is not to the internet-no matter what you guys are doing- I’m addressing the same people you are but I don’t want to get caught up in any controversy that’s going on online or whatever people have to say about me when I was selected- I did that on Golden Compass once- and there was a vote as to who they would rather have as director and “other” beat me- I didn’t want to be in that situation
Q: I think it was great when the press release went out about how committed you were to the film that all of that really died down right around then.
Chris: Well that’s good- I think that its great to have this kind of inbuilt audience of fans, and I feel that they are extraordinarily supportive. They really want things to be good, and the cast wants this to be good- kind of the same kind of commitment to getting the books right…and that’s how I feel.
Q: Which is so greatly appreciated.
Chris: That’s good. It’s great that there was a first movie that was so successful, but to me the book is the Bible for it. And so when I read the book, I read it at a gallop so that I had a similar experience to when people first reading it did. I didn’t want to chop it into pieces immediately. I wanted to just read it in one go- then I kind of went back in you always have to select what your moments are going to be- it’s a 600 page book- eventually you are going to disappoint people- but I think if you do it from the attitude that my loyalty has to be to the readership, and what they experienced more so than even to the fans of the first movie. Although, there has to be some consistency from the first movie to the second movie. It’s really about the readers.
Q: What did you do to make the tone darker? – Have you done anything specific to make it darker as a film?
Chris: Yeah, I think it’s just not to be afraid of the tonalities of the acting and in the tone of the piece. Not, because obviously with a big studio film and a lot of money at stake, you know one can be afraid that if you don’t have people smiling and laughing all the time that you’re gonna be in big trouble. But I think that part of the appeal of this is that it really digs into that melancholy that people experience when they are broken up with: when they lose somebody, when they yearn for somebody, and just not to be afraid of that.
And in terms of the palette of how the world is represented, just to get technical, but for example the blacks are very crunchy there will be very deep shadows, very deep blacks, and literally and metaphorically it makes the colors stand out more.
There will be a period during the movie when things are quite dark and somber, but then there will be kind of this explosion of color when you get to Italy. And there is this kind of ecstatic – and there’s this kind of happiness before and then it loses it all…. and it’s sort of try in every way even in terms of design in different sets and stuff to make sure that each bit, each detail, is a metaphor for where the character is in the book, and you follow Bella’s journey.
It’s also not taking the focus off of Bella’s POV. The book is narrated through Bella. We have to have this very fine balance between having too much and too little Edward. If you have too much Edward, it will be a terrible thing because you want the audience to experience that longing as well, and if you have too little Edward…I’ll be hunted down and killed. It’s just a fine balance that has to be hit basically.
Q: Have you talked to Stephenie Meyer- has she given you any tips?
Chris: Oh yeah we speak all the time. We email back and forth all the time. She’s been to visit the set, and I went down to Arizona to hang out with her. Yeah I’m running stuff past her constantly so that the mythology of the series isn’t violated. I don’t want to pull any fast ones or make any mistakes in terms of things that I present which don’t make sense in her universe. You would have to ask her, I don’t want to make any claims, you’d have to ask her to the degree to which she is satisfied. At least she says to me that she feels the film is very beautiful, and that’s not a credit to me that’s more Javier Aguirresarobe the DP who does absolutely beautiful work. And the idea is to try to make as elegant and beautiful a rendering of the book as possible.
Q: Is that hard as a creative person to take your own vision of the film and match it up with her vision of the film- or her vision of the book?
Chris: In a sense it’s easier because you aren’t working with a totally blank canvas you know I’ve got sort of these tools to work with and I inherited this wonderful cast, and that’s great, and I’m very happy working in the genre of literary adaptation, which is how I see this really. And I don’t really believe in the austere theory where the director creates everything, and I don’t think that’s accurate. You’ll see just from hanging around here, that there are 100 people working here, and each one of them has good ideas. And there’s a director of photography who understands light better than I do. There are cameramen who understand focus better than I do and all these things I’m sort of a glorified traffic cop….
Q: I was going to say conductor-
Chris: Conductor is always the nice sounding…way…and I’m coordinating all of their efforts. So no it doesn’t bother me at all. I actually really enjoy it. I have a standard to stick to that’s already there. Whereas if I write something just on my own, I never really believe my own creations. They sound like made up characters to me. Whereas Bella, Edward and Jacob are already there and we just try to get those things right with the actors. So I don’t have a problem with that at all.
Q: How is the transition from your version to Catherine Hardwicke’s film? Sometimes when directors change there is a big change. You can tell from the style. What kind of style do you bring to this film?
Chris: I think the biggest change would be that I am a bit of an old fogy. I’m old-fashioned and I think Catherine is very “fashion forward” and conscious of a pop sensibility. I am more tied to the old-fashioned romantic films. So that would be, if you were a film nerd, you would notice the palate of the film, the camera work. I am a lot less likely to use hand-held cameras than Catherine Hardwicke is. Things like that, they are more stylistic differences than my kind of “taking it and throwing it away.”
Obviously I owe her a lot, because she cast this great cast [so] I kind of inherited this cool “toolbox” and this extraordinary fan base.
Q: Was there anything from the first film that you felt you had to change?
Chris: No, I don’t. I think the key things that worked with the first movie are the relationships and the feelings of the main characters are the [same] things will work about this. Everything else is just bells and whistles. I mean, there are a lot more special effects in this film so the fact that I had a lot of experience in that area kind of helps. But it shouldn’t feel so different. It shouldn’t suddenly as though you are in an action movie or a visual effects movie. It is wrong if it feels that way. It is only right if the visual effects convey the feeling that is in the books in the first place. The world of the book expands naturally, like with the Volturi. Obviously, they weren’t in the first movie at all but that has been an organic development.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene that you are anxious to see?
Chris: I am excited about scenes with Taylor and Kristen. I am excited about the final showdown with Taylor, Kristen and Rob because I feel that the chemistry is just fantastic. Their relationships are just fantastic. They work the way they are supposed to. That you can understand exactly what they are supposed to. You can understand exactly why Bella would be tempted to, I guess, “settle” would be a better word for Jacob, or to take that option that there really is a love triangle. That is really getting established there. That feels really good. We shot a lot of that stuff already. We haven’t shot the Volturi stuff yet, but I think it will be pretty extraordinary. I have seen the set taking shape and it is just amazing.