While we were visiting the set of Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, ComingSoon.net sat down with producer Jerry Bruckheimer to discuss the forthcoming film, how it relates to the previous installments of the franchise, and what we can expect in the future.
Q: So how, how are you enjoying [Twitter]?
Bruckheimer: I mean it’s a lot of fun, yeah I got a bunch of stuff, pictures that I just haven’t downloaded them off the computer yet. I’m going to start sending them out, if they allow me.
Q: And that’s what I’m sort of curious about. How much do you have to clear through the studio, or can you just decide, like you’ve done pictures with Johnny, you’ve done other stuff. Is it sort of like you just saying, f it, let’s just put it out there, or
Bruckheimer: No, no. First of all, any time you do an actor, you have to get their clearance you know, to put anything out. I mean you know Johnny and there’s certain people that get photo approval, certain actors where you, you send them through the various channels. But anything I send out, I go through Ryan [Stankevitch Disney Publicist] or somebody at the studio to see if it’s okay because I don’t want to step on something they’re going to release at the same time. So we all work together.
Q: On a slightly less casual note, after the first three films, you’re on the verge of doing a fourth, did you stop and pause, and say, there are certain things we have to do better and or differently, or was it sense of, if it ain’t broke, i.e., still profitable, don’t fix it?
Bruckheimer: No I think what we did is, we, we started on, on a different direction; during the making of three, and two. Terry and Ted came up with “On Stranger Tides,” they found the book. And they said, ‘what an interesting way to go,’ and we optioned the book. That’s how it all started. We didn’t look back and say, we just want to start a new chapter, a new chapter. That book gave us a new chapter.
Q: The novel by Tim Powers?
Q: What sparked the decision to go 3D?
Bruckheimer: I just think it’s such an immersive film making. I think it makes you part of the actual filming because you, you’re part of the screen and it’s closer to you. And we’re very adventurous and we decided we want it to be the first big movie, exterior movie to do… “Avatar” was all on stage, or mostly on stage, and I think we’re the first picture, big adventure picture that’s going to be released that’s 3D and actually using 3D cameras.
Q: Did you consider post-conversion?
Bruckheimer: No. It was never a consideration. Initially we had more post-conversion in our budget, but once we started shooting we didn’t do it, we didn’t need it. There were very few shots that were post-conversions. The only sequence, there was one sequence, the first sequence that we filmed was on a beach that you couldn’t get to by land, so everybody had to either take a boat in or helicopter in, and we just couldn’t get those big cameras on that beach, so that was… There’s only one small sequence that’s 2D, and that’s being converted.
Q: I was just curious if you can talk about the… I’ve heard stories with cameras when they’re in the heat and humidity, sometimes acting up, and I know you guys shot in Hawaii in the jungle, so could you talk about whether there are any technical challenges that you had to overcome with the 3D cameras, or is everything… Have they reached the point now where the technology is, it can go into the jungle without a problem.
Bruckheimer: Yeah we had problems with rain, and they’re very sensitive to cameras. What was the other thing we were having trouble with, with the extreme heat, what was it There was something with the humidity, there’s kind of a mirror in there that we had to keep changing, I guess that we had problems with. But we overcame, it wasn’t, it wasn’t terrible. Not like we lost a day of filming. We might lose 15 minutes, 20 minutes just, changing, because anytime you have a technical problem with the camera, you have to change two lenses. It’s not like you just switch one lens and you fix it, two things have to be fixed. So the convergence again, once cameras go out, you have to reconverge, you have to sit there and figure out how to, how to recalibrate the two cameras. So that takes a few minutes, but nothing terrible.
Q: In terms of continuity between the characters other than Captain Jack, was there any discussion about which characters would return, wouldn’t return? Did any big decisions change about who, you know some of the supportive cast would be, you’d bring back for this one?
Bruckheimer: Yeah, I mean we were constantly going back and forth on certain characters to bring back or not. But we tried to streamline the story a little bit, you know make it a little simpler and not have as many characters to follow. That was one of the things we found in editing three, we had so many stories to tie up, and that’s why the picture got longer than you would’ve liked it to have been, had we not added so many characters So we learned from that and said hey, let’s not throw as many characters in, make it a little easier on ourselves.
Q: For example, was Captain Barbossa always going to be part of the new story?
Bruckheimer: The way Terry [Rossio] works, and Ted [Elliot] and us is that, is that we start writing out three by five cards of things we’d like to see in the movie, and then we put them up on a big board, Barbossa was always the one who came up on the board because he’s such a great actor, Geoffrey [Rush] and we wanted to bring him back. He’s so much fun to watch, you know, and so I don’t know, decisions are made like that.
Q: You have a new director on this chapter, can you talk about the differences
Bruckheimer: Completely different backgrounds, you know. Gore [Verbinsky] came out of visual effects and doing commercials. Rob was a dancer and choreographer, and then a stage director and film choreographer.
Q: If I could just follow up on that, there were rumors about other filmmakers possibly getting the gig. Could you explain why you decided on Rob [Marshall]?
Bruckheimer: I just thought he was a premiere filmmaker and I loved his background, I loved that every film he made I thought was unique and, and different. You know Chicago was nominated, won a bunch of academy awards, and he’s a premiere director, we checked him out, actors love him. They love him, they’d do anything for him, so that’s a great, thing, when you have actors who want to work with the director. You hear tales, tales you know about the screen, you know about directors that they don’t like working with. To a T, everybody we talked to, the women, and some of those women, we have a whole group of women on the movie, and it gets real interesting. And he, he handled them all beautifully and they loved him. And then Johnny also you know, he checked Rob out, liked his films, and also found out that actors love working with him. And it’s the same case with Penelope wanting to work with him and that was much easier to see her do the movie. It’s not the kind of movie she’s ever done before, because Rob was directing it, it made it much easier to get her involved because she had just done a movie with him.
Q: These films have gotten successively bigger and bigger and bigger in terms of scope and sweep and visual effects, I mean when you’re working on number four, do you stop and look in the mirror and go, Bruckheimer, you beautiful bastard, how are you going to top yourself? Like how do you psyche yourself up?
Bruckheimer: No it’s all about story, it’s all about your story and your characters, and this one is, even though it was reported that Disney cut the budget and we were being more penurious about it. It’s still a huge movie, it’s still really big.
Q: Saying that in a huge artificial stock room, I can certainly find that remarkable plausible.
Bruckheimer: Well, if you had been with us a week ago, when we were in Greenwich, and saw 265 extras, that had to be dressed and fed, and make up and wardrobe every morning. And they were there for what a week, two weeks. Two weeks of a lot of people so it’s, we’re still making a, big, epic movie.
Q: I mean at what point do you feel like Napoleon? At what point does it become like mobilizing the army?
Bruckheimer: Well, every movie is an army. Even small movies, just moving around, if you have a lot of locations, it’s a real effort, it’s a real organizational feat. That our line producers, and Ads [Assistant Directors] and location people have to deal with.
Q: Can you talk about what your role is in terms of shaping the story, I mean obviously, Ted and Terry brought the book, and you talked about the index cards. But as a producer, how do you
Bruckheimer: I’m in there, you know in other words, when the cards go up, I’ll have him put in that when, when they start formulating things or pitch it to me, I’ll be involved, and we’ll throw out ideas. So I’m in the room, I’m not in the room all the time; people from my company are, but there’s always input, all the way through the process, on everything.
Q: Johnny had input into the script?
Q: In what way?
Bruckheimer: We’ll come up with a, a form of a verbal outline where we’ll pitch the story and we’ll bring him in on it. And he’ll say no, I’m not sure about this, why don’t we do this. He kind of came up with the Phillip character who’s in the movie. It was really his idea to make him a mercenary – not a mercenary, a missionary – It was his idea, so he comes up with interesting ideas that we use.
Q: Terry told us that Johnny was actually very involved in shaping the story, this fourth one.
Bruckheimer: He was.
Q: And that, he, as you said, with Phillip. Is it sort of weird, I mean how often do you have like the big start coming in, and actually giving that many good notes because everyone’s talked about how good the script is on this one.
Bruckheimer: When you have smart actors, I think it’s really in your best interest to bring them in and work with them if they have good ideas, and most of them do. I’ve been very fortunate, most of the actors we work with have really terrific ideas, and help you. The wonderful thing about it is, Terry and Ted get all the credit, which is great for them, when good ideas get floated around, so they’re very generous in accepting other people’s ideas because they know their name goes on the screenplay. They take Johnny’s ideas, which are good, and discuss them.
Q: How much of this is all a fresh start for the “Pirates” franchise, I mean obviously, You’ve got a new team involved, will it spin-off into a new trilogy?
Bruckheimer: We don’t know if it’ll be a trilogy, but we’re already you know throwing around ideas for five, and have a good sense of what we’re thinking of doing. So you know certainly started with another, hopefully another, at least one “Pirates,” hopefully more.
Q: It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to grasp the large challenges. Locations, large name, actors. What is the challenge that you face on a regular basis that people don’t quite get? What’s the unexpected problematic difficulty that always surprises you?
Bruckheimer: Stuff happens, you know stuff happens, you know we have rain, we had weather problems. You know just things that you don’t expect happen. We have a pregnant actress, that happened. So you know those are issue you’ve got to deal with, and you roll with it. So you, we try to have really smart people that can solve problems. You know you surround yourself with really smart people you’ll be fine.
Q: This film has a third in London, a third on the sea, third in the jungle. Could you talk about the challenges, or what set pieces, or what action set piece for each of those fans can look forward to, or the one you’re really looking forward to?
Bruckheimer: God there’re so many there’s a wonderful action set piece in here, they’re just getting ready to film the beginning of an action set piece that takes us through the streets of Greenwich on a carriage ride. There’s a mermaid attack, which is spectacular, there’s the Fountain of Youth at the end of the picture which is a great sequence. There’s quite a bit for the kids to feast their eyes on and have fun with.
Q: What’s some of the new ground that you’re covering that you’re really excited about?
Bruckheimer: Well, I think just bringing Johnny to London I think is so much fun, the fish out of water aspect of the pirate, meeting with the aristocracy, meeting with the king. We’re just having so much fun with it right now. So that’s a blast.
Q: Are you able to read a book or watch a documentary for pleasure, or is it just grist through the mill. Are you able to turn it off?
Bruckheimer: Yeah when I play ice hockey, that’s about it, which I haven’t been. Fortunately, my baggage has gotten lighter since the iPad came out. They send me all the scripts on iPad so it makes it much easier than schlepping all the TV scripts. But I still read all our television scripts, so they’re all, in between set ups, you’re usually reading, reading a TV script while they’re getting ready. So and then watching all the episodes, I usually watch them, on the treadmill, I’m running, I’ll usually watch one or two episodes.
Q: This brings me to a good question, what is the day to day life of Jerry Bruckheimer like? When do you get up and when does the work start. And when does it end?
Bruckheimer: Here unfortunately it ends around three in the morning because you know it’s around seven [pm] in LA, so it ends then, and I’m up by seven or eight [am], and start watching the TV shows, and get here, after I get a good workout, and spend the rest of the day here, and then meet with the director. We’re doing the trailer right now, so you meet with the trailer people after you finish filming and work on the teaser. So we go out to dinner, and get on the phone, finish phone calls back in LA.
Q: In terms of the TV shows, you watch an episode. Have you reached a point now where you’re even, there’s a lot of edits that you need to make?
Bruckheimer: It’s gone through so many people by the time it gets to me, you know goes through our staff, the staff on the TV show, it goes through Warner Brothers, and it goes through the network, and then I get a copy at the same time the network does, so by then it’s gone through so many different, hopefully, great minds that there’s not much there’s still notes I give them, things I don’t quite understand, or think they can do better.
Q: I wanted to ask about, I believe you’re involved with the “Lone Ranger.” I wanted to know how that’s going right now and what else is bubbling up to the surface for you?
Bruckheimer: “The Lone Ranger” I think is, hopefully is going to be pretty soon. And “National Treasure,” another one, we’re working on that. “Lone Ranger” is going quite well, we just had a meeting with Johnny recently and it was fantastic, so it’s going, going good. That one is getting pretty exciting. So I’m excited about another, another big movie with the same team that brought you “Pirates,” the first three anyway.