The Huffington Post has a great interview with Bill Condon about the difficulties he faced in bring Brekaing Dawn part 2 to the big screen. He also talks about why he took on the project and where he think Rob, Kristen, and Taylor’s careers are headed. Read the whole story here.
You’ve been with this franchise for a few years now. What was the biggest surprise you encountered?
I had never done a big visual-effects movie. There are twice as many visual effects in the second film — there are over 2,000 shots — than there were in the first. We started cutting that when the first movie got released — so, a year ago. I didn’t know how intense that process would be. We were just finishing up a few days ago. It feels like being in production for an entire year. There’s such a big pile of work to do. It’s long days and six-day weeks. The thing I learned is movies like this get made more in post-production than they do in production.
The other tricky thing is that today’s audiences are conditioned to spot bad effects. I imagine that makes the task even more difficult?
There are so many shots where there are five different vendors working on it at the same time. Guys are putting in wolves, other people are putting in Bella’s power, other people are putting in background and snow. It’s crazy. Also, doing some beauty work on some of the actors. It’s unbelievably intricate. The thing that sort of kept haunting us was the fact that you just know when something doesn’t feel right. You can get 1,900 shots right, but if a few really stick out, people will say, “Oh, it had cheesy effects.” You don’t really get a pass too much. Again, because this is really different in scope and style to the other movies — this really is a full-on action movie — I think the pressure was on to really step up our game.
You also had to rapidly age Mackenzie Foy, who plays Renesmee.
It’s exponentially harder, because this is a character who every time she goes out of the room and comes back, she’s grown a few inches. It’s all these subtle changes. Then imagining what Mackenzie Foy would look like at age 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Also, it’s not just that it’s Mackenzie — she’s playing a creature that’s half-human and half-vampire. So, adding that aspect to it. She’s not an entirely real person. And anybody’s face changes from shot to shot based on the angle. People’s faces — what we know about them — evaporates quickly. So, doing all that an applying it to an imaginary person who then has to emote and connect and speak — it was the next-level kind of challenge.
When you’re working with such an effects-heavy film, is it hard to get the performances you want from the actors?
Luckily, they’ve been doing this for a while. But, their character have powers in this film. There’s a beautiful idea in here that the reason Edward was interested in Bella in the first place was that he couldn’t read her. She’s a mystery, in other words. Which is what draws us to people, you know? But that quality she had becomes more developed when she becomes a vampire: she has an actual shield around her, and she’s able to project it to protect other people from bad powers. So, something like that, it’s just counting on Kristen to suggest that the shield is being pushed out and the other actors giving a sense of where it is. It’s all about having actors so good and committed, who really worked hard at making it feel real.