Ain't Them Body Saints director David Lowery has expressed his love for Soderbergh's Sex, Lies & Videotape diaries — now he's doing his version of chronicling the filmmaking experience for his upcoming film Pete's Dragon in the form of a web blog. Don't miss these daily insights into the mind of an exciting working director.
At first I thought it was strange to hear that David Lowery was helming Disney's latest big-budget remake of Pete's Dragon, but it actually makes sense. Lowery's roots in stories told from the perspective of children stretch back to his minimalist drama St. Nick and his epic bedtime story short film Pioneer. If Lowery truly does take a page out of Soderbergh's book, then there will be a lot of personality, perspective and pragmatic information about the directing process on his blog:
I am now waiting for this crudely stitched-together scene to upload to Pix so I can go to bed and then wake up and show it to everyone tomorrow and figure out what exactly we need to focus on before the sun sets on our last day at this location. Movies set in the wild starring kids who have to do stunts is an excellent recipe for not having enough time, ever.
Editing together what we'd shot over the first two days of this sequence was incredibly helpful. There were a few missing pieces we needed to get, and a few shots - a reveal here, an interaction there - where I felt we could do better. And we did. It also reminded me why I can't edit while shooting: I'll never, ever sleep.
You write all these scenes and each one builds upon the next in a very specific way. You start to conceive of how you'll shoot them and how individual shots will highlight the crescendo and visually underline the emotions that you put on the page, and then one day you're on set and you're an hour from lunch and you're about to shoot one of those shots - a very specific one which is the culmination of 90 minutes of emotion you have absolutely not filmed yet.
The scene we were shooting involved the dragon - cast member # 20 on the call sheet - who at this point in principal photography is still something of a learning curve. We might set up a shot and think it looks amazing but then realize that we're not leaving room for the creature that will be running through the other side. We have a big head on a stick, and we have a life size inflatable dragon for reference, but nine times out of ten it's that old trick of accommodating for something that's not there. Our Weta team is on set helping us figure things out, and I always keep in mind something David Fincher said in regards to Benjamin Button, about how as soon as you treat your special effect like it costs sixty grand per shot, it stops being special and starts calling attention to itself. The way to make it work is to bury it in the frame and let it go out of focus. It still costs the same, but it ceases to be precious and therefore feels more real.
Lowery is currently on Day 10 of production in the woods of New Zealand (at least that's the last update), so now is a great time to start following along.