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In recent interviews for the upcoming Animatrix short, The Final Flight Of Osiris, we got a chance to site down with super action producer, Joel Silver, and Animatrix animation director, Andy Jones.

Was there a bid out for The Animatrix? Did people bring in pieces? How did you end up with the job?

Andy Jones:
Actually, The Wachowski Brothers sought us out. They looked at a lot of Japanese Anime companies that were doing some very creative and interesting work and people that they respected. I mean, they went to Japan and got all these great directors. They also liked what we had been doing as far as Final Fantasy (the look of it) and they thought it would be a great medium to tell the story.

There seemed to be two parts to Final Flight of The Osiris. Is that something the you had consciously decided at the beginning or did it just end up that way?

Andy Jones:
There's kind of a first and second act…and it was planned out that way. The first act is setting up the feeling and emotion and a little bit of set up of the characters and who they are. Then you get into the whole idea of what the story's about and what the Wachowski's wanted to tell, which is the Sentinel army and the existence of it and that they need to get this information to Zion. That's the last thing that they [The Osiris Crew] can do. They can't possibly take out all the Sentinels that are after them.

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Did they come to you and say we specifically want you to do the one that's going theatrical?

Joel Silver:
The whole thing started when we went to Japan in September of '99. The Wachowski's always had this scheme that, being big fans of Japanese Anime, they wanted to find a way to incorporate their story in this process. The key is to be clear that they wanted to tell a story in multiple mediums. Anime is one of the mediums which was available to them to tell the story. When the notion came up to do these and Warner Brothers Home Video go on board the plan was to have one story, Final Flight of The Osiris which really sets up the entire saga. It begins Reloaded. I see it as The Matrix 1.5. It really starts the story from here on. The plan was always to do that in the most sophisticated and the most spectacular animation fashion. That's what let them to Square [USA, INC.] and led them to Andy. At that time we had other hopes and plans for Square, however Square didn't last much longer after we finished this movie. They [The Wachowski Brothers] wanted this story and they wanted it to be really incredible. It just worked out that Dreamcatcher was coming out and Larry Kazdan was a giant fan of The Matrix and we wanted the fans to be able to watch this on the big screen. This is not promotional it's part of the story. We really thought if we could get this up before the movie opened and give people a chance to see it and understand it, it would lead them right into Reloaded.

This thing is spectacular. Watching it you begin to think why pay an actor twenty five million dollars when this is so easy. Is it easy?

Joel Silver:
No, it's not easy. With all the wonderful work Andy has done in Final Flight, which is spectacular, we are far beyond it in the movie. I mean, we've gone far further than this. I think you can use animation, in my opinion, as a tool to aid you to do things that you can't do with real actors. There are certain parts of this opening scene, the fight scene, the sparing program which came of the boys [Wachowski's] saying this is what sex is like in the Matrix. That's where the sparing program came from. There are things in that that you can't do with real actors or it'd be extremely expensive. In the first Matrix there was no Nebokenezer. It was all done in computer animation. When it was over we wanted the ship and we actually had to have it made because it didn't exist as a model. There are things that you can do with animation that you can't do in real life but to replace the actor is just a…stupid idea.

Will there be other Animatrix shorts running before movies?

Joel Silver:
No. There're two already on the net. The first one had four million downloads in the first month. Some of the hardware companies were shocked that there was that much memory out there and people were able to accept all those downloads. The second one, Program, had two hundred and fifty thousand in the first hour.

Is there any concern that people will come to watch the short film and not stay for Dreamcatcher?

Joel Silver:
I hope that doesn't happen. I think that Larry [Kazdan] made a wonderful movie and I think it's scary. I like those kind of movies. I hope that they work together.

We used to see shorts before movies all the time and this is a nice throwback. Do you think we'll be seeing more shorts before movies?

Joel Silver:
The problem is that exhibition is always so disturbed by it. The Theater owners think that audiences wont want them. They sit and watch twenty five trailers, why wont they…I think if it's something that's fun…I loved that little short that Mike Judge did. Office Space was a short first and I saw it once in the theater. I thought that was great. I don't know if we'll see more of these but it works great for us.

So, is the reason that we're not seeing more of this because the exhibitors don't want it?

Joel Silver:
Exhibition, I think, is concerned about it. One of the reasons this happened is because Larry Kasdan said “let's do it”. It all has to work together.

What kind of business is the first sequel going to have to do to be considered a success? Is it going to have to rival The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to be considered a huge success like the first Matrix was?

Joel Silver:
I can't speak to that. It's an R rated movie and I don't know what it's going to do. I'm telling you the movie is sensational. It's going to blow people away. The ideas behind it and the visual effects are staggering. There are some things that you can not belief you're going to see.

Can you mention some of those things?

Joel Silver:
Absolutely not. [Laughter fills the room]

Are both movies finished?

Joel Silver:
The first one is being finished as we speak. The second one is finished shooting but it's not done yet. They have a lot of work to do.

How many movies do you have coming out this year?

Joel Silver:
Four. Cradle to the Grave, both Matrix movies, and one of my Dark Castle movies with Halle Barry which comes out next Halloween.

What about your comic book movies? Are you still developing Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing?

Joel Silver:
Yes. We'll we have access to the DC [DC Comics] people and I there's such a proliferation of comic book movies out there right now that I'm not going to do Wonder Woman until we have the material to make it really cool. We're working very hard to get great material to make the movie what I think it has to be. I don't want to just put another Superhero movie out there and say “OK, that ones done”.

What is your next mid-level budget movie?

Joel Silver:
Well, I was always fascinated with an old 60's movie called Superbly which I kind of wanted to play with.

With Ron O'neal?

Joel Silver:
Well, not with Ron. But yes, that's the movie. I have a plan of making a different version of that.

So next year are the two Matrix movies going to be competing with each other for best picture?

Joel Silver:
Please, I don't even think about that stuff.

The prelude to The Matrix Reloaded hits theaters with Dreamcatcher this Friday...

Stay tuned for more on The Animatrix and The Matrix Reloaded by keeping your eyes on our Movie Vault! CLICK HERE

Dont't forget to also check out: The Animatrix DVD, The Matrix Reloaded

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.