Director Danny Boyle talks Millions
How long has it been since you did European presa?
Well, we haven't really. The film will open in the UK and France in June.
So we get it first?
Yeah, so it's first here. Yeah, so in terms of publicity and stuff, yeah, this is early days for me. So it's quite nice. We're coming to New York to open the film there. It has its bow there if you like as part of the children's film festival. And the kids, the two kids who are in the film, the two lads, they're coming over for that with their families, so that will be nice. A couple of days in Manhattan with them will be quite fun for them.
Do you believe UK will switch to the Euro?
Well, I hope they will. I'm a supporter of it myself. I'm a European. I think we should think like that. It was a small factor in making the film in that we wanted to say how important it was to say goodbye to things in that you have to say goodbye to the currency. The French managed it and the Irish managed it. Why can't we? But I wouldn't put any money on it. I wouldn't bank on it. The British, we are so kind of reluctant sometimes to join the modern world. It's a shame I think. We're not bolder really I think. I suppose it's part of our nature. But I do think there's a bad side to it. I do think we cling hold of the second World War and it's like 60 years ago but we keep hold of it like it's a big part of our lives still. I'm not diminishing it, but it's not anymore frankly and the world is changing and moving on and I'm a believer in that. I think it's a good thing, but I don't think we will, no. I don't think we will join it. I think they'll have a vote and people will vote no, which will be terrible, but anyway, there you go.
Will kids understand what it means to have currency devalued?
It's funny actually. When I was a bit older than the older boy in it, I think I was abut 16 when we decimalized. I don't know if you remember, but it used to be pounds, shillings and pence in Brittain. And then we decimalized. We went decimal, or you'd call it going digital I suppose. I remember that happening and there was a lot of worry that old people would be confused, but the young take to it dead easy, dead quick, no problem.
How find child actors who were cute but not overly obnoxious?
I know, you've got to be very careful that you don't end up wanting to kill them. I think what you try and look for is not child actors really. What you try and look for people who you can talk to for extended periods of time and hang out with a bit. What you don't want is actors who are kind of acting, because I think 90 minutes with child actors just gets- - you do want to hang them. You want to squeeze the lights out of them then. That was definitely a factor in it. I've sort of been more aware of it afterwards, but looking back at the casting, but that was certainly a big factor. There were actors who were better, for instance, than the younger lad. There were actors who were better than him as actors technically. They could deliver a line better and stuff, but they didn't seem right at all to me. It just had to be somebody who the film could flow through or live through.
What would you talk and hang out about?
Mostly football, or as you guys would say, soccer. I mean, I'm a mad soccer fanatic and so are they, particularly the young lad. He's a quite good footballer as well, so we'd do a lot of talking about that. Playstation 2. You can't keep them off the Playstation 2. But they were interested in the filming to an extent. It's pretty boring. They spotted that quite quickly, how boring it became.
How do you think of your visuals? Do they just come to you?
I try to have a kind of bible. I call it the bible. It's like a book of photography on the set which I make up and people can add to it, of images that are suggested to me by the film. It's not like storyboarding. It's like diverse images from well known photographers or just magazine photography, just incidental stuff that feels relevant to the film and are built up over, because you're always preparing a film for a year. Especially like this, you're working on the script, and I build it up over a long period of time, and I'm mad. My house is full of books of photography anyway, kind of visual images and I find it a really good way of communicating with people. They get more of a sense of the film from looking at those photographs than they do from listening to me for hours. And it's very precise as well. They get a real sense of the film and I even do it with financiers now. I try and prepare it so that when we're looking to get the film financed, you take them the book of images and say, "I want it to feel a bit like this" and "This scene's a bit like this" and you can see the look on people's faces. They get a little glimpse of the future a bit more than just talking about.
Are these photos you take or find?
Sometimes I take them. I'm not really a photographer. I'd like to be but I haven't knuckled down and done it really. I do take some photographs, especially with a location film. I like hanging around the locations, like the estate that we filmed on for Millions. I would hang out there and just wander around, because you see things. You see kids behaving in a certain way. You see bits of detail that's just lovely and you capture for and make a record of it and then use it later, you know. Like I was there one day and everybody brought their bins out, their rubbish bins and trash bins. It's a collection. And I loved that. They all park them and they're all the same color. And the trashman turned up and collected all the rubbish, and that's in the film. Just little things like that give you a little motif for the scene.
Was the script as sparse as the film or was there more exposition you cut?
I guess that's the style really is to work like that. You try and keep it quite sparse and keep it kinetic and moving forward. So I guess that's just the style. Frank writes a bit like that anyway and I tend to veer towards those writers who write like that. That's my taste I suppose.
Are British kids smarter than Americans, because I wouldn't have understood this movie 15 years ago?
I don't know. I can't imagine that you could say that, no. It'd be daft to break people down like that. I don't know. I mean, my feeling is it's not really a film for kids as such. I think it's more looking at childhood which kids don't necessarily want to do. They tend to want to look at adult life because they want to be an adult. They want to grow up. They want to get things like all the things that they're denied, like girls and kind of whatever it is they dream of, fame, whatever they dream of. They want to look like that. This is more like looking back through a doorway to where we've all been really, childhood. That's sort of how I imagined it.
Is this a good movie for kids?
Yeah, I think it's quite a fun idea for them to watch. A bag of money, really. I think that's quite interesting for them. Yeah, I think so.
Was anyone skeptical about the Trainspotting guy doing a kids movie?
Yeah. Well, presumably because I think they initially sent the script to every director in Britain except me and they all turned it down. And I think they thought, "We're not sending it to that guy. He'll turn it into a slasher movie or something." But I loved it. And it connected with a lot of my background. It felt very personal to me in a strange way. And so yeah.
Where does your film aesthetic come from, since you never use pure reality?
No, I try not to. We had a lovely byline for the film which they haven't used, but I liked it. A tagline which was "Keep it unreal." I liked that. I thought that was great. There's so much realism you can watch on telly and around you that I love the cinema being a bit larger than life somehow. I like that about the cinema. I love it. I think it's something of why we go to the cinema is I think we long for that. We long to be told stories that are slightly larger than life. It doesn't make them unreal. It doesn't make them unrelevant is what I meant. They can be just as relevant, but it's an imaginative medium. I really believe that. I love that about it.
Do you live in reality, or a more surreal place?
No surrealism but I'm quite light footed in the way I live. I talk to myself a lot and I always have done. I have a dialogue with myself the whole time, chatting away to myself, about silly things sometimes. And I like that.
Can reality by frustrating when you have such a vivid imagination?
It certainly, you get a clash of it when you make a film because it's all about realism and getting it done in time and getting it done with the people and achieving this. It's kind of a boot threatening you in your face the whole time. But you have to stay light footed about what it is you want to tell. And I can see sometimes when I watch films, clearly they've been ground down into telling the films in a prosaic way by the demands of time and money, and won in the battle to try and stay a bit free.
Did you cut anything from Millions for the rating?
No, I don't think so. We've got one problem which is not in the states. It's actually in England, in the UK which is they are paranoid about anything happening near a railway line because of copycat behavior. And so the certificate they're suggesting is ridiculous. It's like insane. I can't remember what the latest one. At one point they were saying it was a 15. We were saying, "What? You can show people having their heads chopped off in Lord of the Rings and it's a PG-13 and you're giving us a 15 for Millions?" They said, "Oh, it's the railway lines" and things like that. Anyway, that's a kind of fine cultural detail that we're struggling with at the moment.
What is next for you?
We're doing this film Sunshine which is a sci-fi film. And we're kind of auditioning at the moment in town, in LA at the moment. About to go and do some auditions this afternoon at 3:30 in an hour and a half, yeah. It's about a mission to the sun and they're flying a bomb. It's set 50 years in the future. And they're flying a bomb into the sun to reignite a section of the sun that's failing. And the bomb is the size of Kansas. It's a vast bomb that they've assembled in space orbiting the moon. We've assembled this bomb and they're flying it to the sun and it's incredible. But what's happened is that seven years earlier, an initial mission went to do the same thing and failed and nobody knows why it failed. They lost contact with them. So there's a kind of mystery attached to it as well.
Will it have lots of special effects?
Some. I mean, there's some and it's very interesting how you do them because when you're working in space, there has to be but it's whether you use the model roots the way the original Star Wars and 2001 did them, or whether you use the new CG roots which is the new Star Wars, which is like Solaris, the remake of Solaris that Soderbergh. You can use an entirely CG world in space as well.
Models look better.
I think so as well.
Will it be a big ensemble?
Not huge. I mean, there's eight people on the spacecraft and that's it.
Is it a US production?
We're going to shoot it in London, but because of realism really, it'll probably be a primarily US crew. Maybe mixed with Chinese crew as well. Maybe a mixture. That's what we're talking about. If you try and project 50 years into the future and look at a mission that's sent from earth on a humanity level rather than a national level, then it would probably be an American/Chinese crew.
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