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Exclusive: Matt Reeves & Dylan Clark Talk Monkey Business Behind ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’

Exclusive: Matt Reeves & Dylan Clark Talk Monkey Business Behind ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’
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Matt Reeves, director of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and the upcoming “War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 17, 2017).

Director Matt Reeves details the complexities of motion capture technology and producer Dylan Clark talks keeping things on budget for the upcoming ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes…’ and they’re not “monkey-ing” around.

 

Tucked away in the same hidden interior chamber within the backstage labyrinth of the Madison Square Garden Theatre we spoke with Andy Serkis, we also caught up with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark to talk about the forthcoming ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes.’

The night before catching with Matt and Dylan, select (read “lucky”) New York Comic Con 2016 attendees were able to get a roughly cut 7 minute sneak peek at the upcoming blockbuster, and the evolution of the high-tech motion capture technology that makes it all happen… and it didn’t disappoint the crowd. Joined by the film’s lead actor and the voice behind Caesar, Andy Serkis, director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark commandeered the animated panel and fed the receptive audience tender morsels of behind-the-scenes information.

Watch FilmFad’s full exclusive interview with “War For The Planet Of The Apes” director Matt Reeves below:

Taking the reigns from Rupert Wyatt who directed the reboot franchise starter “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,” Matt Reeves had his work cut out for him in both story and scope of filming when it came to “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.” During the special engagement panel, Reeves let the audience in on how nervous he was not only taking over another director’s vision but also the scope and complexity of learning to work with the motion capture technology. We wanted to know what Reeves saw in the first film that made him want to risk jumping aboard mid-shift in the franchise and what he thought he could bring to the table to take “Dawn” and “War” to the next level.

The thing that I really was blown away by watching “Rise [Of The Planet Of The Apes”], and I thought Rupert [Wyatt] did an incredible job directing that film, was how emotionally connect I was to an Ape. The most human character in that story was Caesar.

With each subsequent installment to the franchise, Reeves pushes the character’s limits as Caesar evolves both linguistically but also as a leader within his budding society of primates and how it relates to the human world.

I really thought there was an opportunity to do really a story that hadn’t quite been done about the moment where it could have been the planet of the humans and apes. In “War [For The Planet Of The Apes”] what I wanted to do was to take that further and make it more of a mythic story. The story becomes not only a war between humans and apes, but really a war within Caesar – a battle for his soul.

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Andy Serkis (‘Lord of the Rings’) voices Caesar in “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017).

 


Check out FilmFad’s exclusive interview with actor Andy Serkis as he talks the evolution of Caesar in “Planet of the Apes,” the rigors of MoCap acting, and what it’d sound like if Smeagol from “Lord of the Rings” met Caesar… and there’s video!


 

Reeves talks the technical details of working with Motion Capture technology, as he lays out just how many shots are required to put together just one scene, let alone the whole movie.

Four shots per shot per scene. So, if you’ve got tens shots in a scene you have to shoot those 40 times. You have to get so many elements until there right before you can move on just to the next shot. It’s a crazy experience.

Given the numerous shots and takes, from motion capture, to human actors, to just Andy Serkis’ Caesar in his motion capture attire, we were curious to find out just how Reeves manages to maintain the dramatic pacing of the film with so many working parts.

The first cut of the movie that I do with the editors is Andy [Serkis] and all of the other actors. There’s a version of “Dawn,” there’s a version of “Rise” that exists, not with any apes at all, but this tribe of lycra clad dot faced humans… it’s the planet of the humans and the S&M guys. But that story actually works. And the reason that it works is because of the actors. You watch Andy’s performance and it’s so moving.

While the final polished product in both “Rise” and again “Dawn” has been nothing short of innovative and awe inspiring, we wanted to know if Reeve’s had any intention of sharing those “lycra-clad dot-faced-human” versions of the films any time soon… perhaps in the form of blu-ray special features.

Oh, for sure. One of the things we’ve talked about doing is showing the movie in the state that we see it before it’s done, which is this pure action version… with them in their mobcap outfits. We’ll definitely do that.

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Dylan Clark, producer for the rebooted “Planet of the Apes” franchise.

Producer Dylan Clark was also excited to talk about the July 2017 bound trilogy topper talking the monetary mechanics behind the surprisingly cost-effective blockbuster. We were curious to see how deep FOX’s pockets run when it comes to making a big-budget winner, and if the price tag on Motion Capture causes for sacrifice in other areas.

We’re obviously mindful of not making the most expensive movies ever made. You know, these movies are modestly made in comparison to a lot of other big blockbusters. FOX has just been an incredible partner to us in trying to make [an] ambitious film, and we’ve really been able to do that.

Clark keeps a modest tone crediting greats like director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”) and James Cameron (“Avatar”) with pioneering the motion capture technology that “War For The Planet Of The Apes” utilizes to bring Caesar and the other apes to life.

We’ve benefitted from a lot of people doing before us in big ways – Peter Jackson, you know, James Cameron. We didn’t invent it… we took what they taught us and we decided to see if we couldn’t push it further. There was a moment when Mr. Cameron came to set and saw that we had taken it outside and he thought that was pretty cool, so… we had the benefit of giant filmmakers ahead of us kinda show us the roadmap. 

Of course, as the reboot franchise starts to lead closer and closer to the iconic setting of original “Planet of the Apes”  we couldn’t help but wonder if these films would flow into the continuity of the original series, falling into the realm of a “prequel.”

We’re big fans of the originals, but [these films are] definitley not prequels. 

Watch FilmFad’s full exclusive interview with “War For The Planet Of The Apes” producer Dylan Clark below:

“War For The Planet Of The Apes” marches into theaters on July 17, 2017.

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About The Author

Pooya

Since his wee lad-dom, Pooya has been a sommelier of cinema. It was likely some acting bug, fallen from the dust riddled ruby curtains of an enchanted old stage that did it. Those cinematic scarabs must have burrowed deep into his brain, irreversibly altering his mind, turning the poor boy down a dismal path. From his earliest years the strange boy would aimlessly wander the aisles of countless video rental stores, amassing his trivial knowledge with vigor. These actions befuddled the boy’s parents, who still would lovingly oblige his unusual attraction to the motion picture. Often seeking refuge in the cushioned seating of his local movie theater, the odd adolescent would immerse himself in the scripted and effects riddled realities unfolding on the screen before him. During his collegiate years, he was twice spotted on stage performing bizarre theatrical rituals before awe-struck audiences. When he departed from academia, he left behind his youth in exchange for a labor routine, but the strange young man never lost his long-cultivated love of film. Recently, Pooya was approached by FilmFad.com to join their budding team of entertainment bloggers. After hours of coaxing and an undisclosed number of honey jars, he accepted their offer. Finally he had come full circle. Finally, at FilmFad.com, he was home.

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