We take in a press conference with director Hoyt Yeatman, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and others about this new 3D film
When most moviegoers think of the name Jerry Bruckheimer, visions of pirates, long-lost treasures and big-budget action come to mind... but how about... guinea pigs... in 3D? That's right, the mega-producer Bruckheimer is one of the driving forces behind the new live-action/animation 3D hybrid film, G-Force, which will hit theaters on July 24 in Disney Digital 3-D. After all of the countless blockbusters to his name, this new film is Bruckheimer's first foray into 3D and, as Bruckheimer mentioned in his opening remarks of a press conference on the Sony lot last month, the film itself had quite an unusual beginning.
"(Director) Hoyt (Yeatman) came to me about three years ago and told me this story about his six-year-old son that came home with a guinea pig," Bruckheimer said. "He said, 'Hey Dad, wouldn't it be cool if these guys were special forces and could do all these wild things?' A light bulb went off in Hoyt's head and he started working on a story and had these artists come in and draw up all these characters. What we have today is what his son pitched us four years ago, and we've created some things here that I don't think anybody's ever seen. I think there is more 3D in this movie than any other movie made."
Director Hoyt Yeatman, a longtime visual effects guru with two Oscars on his mantle, directed the film along with coming up with the initial story from his young son's idea. The film revolves around a group of highly-trained guinea pigs who do covert intelligence work for the government and, after doing some research on the subject, Yeatman found out this wasn't such a far-fetched idea after all.
"If you were to Google squirrels in Iran you'll find that about two years ago, 12 squirrels were found having gone into the Iranian Embassy equipped with video and audio surveillance equipment," Yeatman said, which induced a few chuckles amongst the press corps. "If you look back through history, you'll find animals and insects have pretty much been a part of intelligence systems as well as even in the U.S. government. As I was looking at all of this, I realized there was plenty of material and from that, we began to create our main character Darwin."
Darwin is voiced by Sam Rockwell, the leader of this covert group of rodents and Yeatman revealed that he is, "really the one who wants to be a special agent... and really feels that is his lot in life, to be a special agent, even though he's only nine inches tall." Yeatman also described some of the other characters like Blaster, voiced by Tracey Morgan, the "adrenaline junkie" of the group, Juarez, voiced by Penelope Cruz, the hand-to-hand combat expert and also Speckle, voiced by Nicolas Cage, "and we find that Speckle is a genius" and Mooch, "who is literally the fly on the wall that carries the latest in nanotechnology."
We also heard about the unusual nature of this film being not only a live-action/animated hybrid (with Bill Nighy, Will Arnett and new it-dude Zack Galifianakis rounding out the live-action cast), but it's also a 3D film as well, and from the footage we were shown by visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk, it certainly does seem that Bruckheimer's earlier claim that we'll see things we've never seen before, should surely come true.
After hearing from Stokdyk and Rob Engle, the 3D visual effects supervisor, who showed us many of the intriguing techniques that they used in the making of this film, they opened it up to questions from the press corps.
Since this is a 3D movie how will that work for the DVD?
Rob Engle: I would argue that there are actually conceptually three releases of this movie. There's the traditional 2D release. The other two releases are the left and right eye of the 3D release. We could take the 3D version of the film and put it in IMAX. It's one of those things we did at Imageworks in 2007 with "Beowulf." We produced a 3D version that was for released for digital projection for small scale theaters as well as IMAX theaters. I think it was the first time they had done that.
Who does G-Force actually go up against? Is there a bad guy animal team that we don't know about?
Hoyt Yeatman: The bad guy in the movie is the prestige savor who is like a Bill Gates. He is a gentleman who was in [the] military construction and now is the leading appliance king of the world - washer and dryers and toasters. Things like that. The FBI is concerned that he's up to no good. He used to make military ships and they've realized he's doing something with a mysterious character in the far east. The G-Force members go in to prove their ability as covert spies and then uncover a plan that's actually brewing which is to take over the world.
You originally starting shooting this movie in 2D and then half way through decided to do 3D. Is there anything that gets lost during that conversion?
Hoyt Yeatman: The studio and Jerry from the very beginning wanted to do it in 3D. We did tests and it was only after having done them that it was outrageously expensive and just technically not possible. We just couldn't do it. I thought about it, the problem. I wanted to do it, but I just couldn't figure it out. So as we starting shooting I realized there were ways that we could... But to answer your question about to feeling if we've lost something - I think the answer is no. We have so much more control. To me the technology needs to shift. We've seen a lot of animated full length rendered CG characters now. We've seen very few live-action 3-D movies and the reason is it's almost impossible to shoot them very easily and make a good 3-D movie that way. There needs to be a quantum leap in the technology.
Do you think 3D will ever be possible for people to enjoy at home?
Rob Engle: 3D in the home is actually already possible to some extent. There are steps that are out there. What's missing right now are standards in delivering 3D to the home. There's a lot of interest in the consumer electronics area and Blu-ray for example - all these people are looking to see how to bring quality 3D experience--not the red/blue, but a real quality 3-D experience--into the home. It's only a matter of time. I imagine in three years you'll see it. Maybe less.
Well that about wraps up my day in Culver City on the Sony lot for the press conference and presentation for G-Force. I must say that I was rather impressed with the footage that I saw and this does look like a rather groundbreaking 3D flick, with all the action (animated as it may be) that you would expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer film. And to think, it all started with a quaint idea from a six-year-old with a guinea pig.
G-Force hits theaters nationwide in July 24 in both 2D and Disney 3D formats. Peace in. Gallagher out!