Director Denis Villeneuve recently detailed that there are parts of his Dune film that he wants to “readjust.”
In a remote interview with Tanya Lapointe for the Shanghai Film Festival in Montreal, Villeneuve was asked about his progress on the film and how the coronavirus has affected his work on the film.
He answered, “Yes, I’m working on a feature film, Dune, right now. We were about to finish some shooting. The movie was like almost finished.”
Villeneuve continued, “Dune is the feature film I’m working on right now has been made in an unusual way.”
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He then explained, “Which means that we made the main shooting, and then I edited that part of the movie and I was planning to go back to shoot some elements later because I wanted to readjust the movie.”
He continued, “I needed time and it’s a luxury that I had, so at the time, I didn’t know there would be a pandemic. So when the virus hit North America as we were about to go back to do those elements. So the impact was that it crushed my schedule right now.”
Villeneuve then elaborated, “It will be a sprint to finish the movie on time right now because we were allowed to go back to shoot. I’m going back to shoot those elements in a few week as we were supposed to shoot them earlier.”
“And it meant also that I had to finish some elements of the movie like VFX, and the editing, being in Montreal as my crew stayed in Los Angeles,” he continued.
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Villeneuve then detailed, “I would say that as a director there are things that can be done remotely today with technology. VFX. All of the supervision of VFX with some equipment is kind of easy to do from afar that I felt comfortable to do.”
He would then detail just how much not having his editor close to him has been one of the main difficulties he’s had to deal with.
Villeneuve stated, “But editing for me, the big lesson of this is that I thought that it would be possible to edit at a distance, having my editor sharing both with computers being far from one to the other. But I realize how much editing is… it’s like playing music with someone and you need to be in the same room. I mean there is something about the interaction, human interaction, the spontaneity, the energy in the room.”
He elaborated, “I really missed not being in the say room with my editor right now. But I’m saying as an artist to edit my movie not being in the same room as my editor is very, very painful.”
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“Also maybe one of the reason is that the editor is someone , the editor editing the movie also a psychiatrist. I mean he is the one who is dealing with my anxiety and my panic attack and my fears and receiving my joys. And I think that in the future, if ever something like that happen again definitely I will make sure that my editor is close too,” Villeneuve said.
He then detailed, “Editing is a very important part of the filmmaking process for me. Maybe the most important. It’s a time where you rewrite the movie in some ways.”
Meaning that when you make a movie, you have of course the screenplay, the shooting, and the editing. Each of them you improve the story . But with editing, there’s something about the fact that you have all the alphabet in front of you. All of the words defined. You have all the images. You don’t have to fight against sunlight, or against winds, or an ator’s headache. It’s like there. You have all the elements and there’s so much creativity,” he explained.
Finally, he concluded, “It’s amazing how you can transform things or how you can create fear, joy, tension in the editing room. That why I think that I’m a little bit traumatized by this working far away from my editor right now.”
Later in the interview, Villeneuve does detail his passion for Frank Herbert’s Dune novel. He stated, “I still have the book, it’s the original book… And I remember reading the back of the book and it really striked me. And I dive into the book and I devoured it.”
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He elaborated, “I read all of the books of Dune. It’s a saga. There are several books. And the world, the complexity, the beauty, the richness of the cultures, the way that it was described, the adventure of a boy leaving his world and having to adapt himself to a new reality, having to adapt himself to a new culture, having the humility to embrace that new culture, and to survive in those environments, I thought was very moving at the time.”
He then stated, “And there was also for a young boy, I thought the book was saying about politics , about the economy, about how the world are dealing with natural resources, exploitation of natural resources, destroying the environment…”
He added, “For me, it’s a very complex, powerful book that tells a universal story that is very strong, simple, and that approaches very complex subject matters at the same time.
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“So honestly, it became my favorite book at the time. I deeply loved it. I was like totally…I fell in love and it stayed with me through the years. And it stayed like an old dream. I was saying to myself one day, I would love to bring this to the screen,” Villeneuve said.
Villeneuve’s Dune film is still expected to be released on December 18, 2020 and is one of the few films that has not seen its scheduled release date pushed back due to government imposed shutdowns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The film is supposed to be the first of two films that will adapt Frank Herbert’s seminary Dune novel that follows Paul Atreides as his family travels to the desert planet of Arrakis and has to deal with not only the harsh environmental conditions, but the cosmic politics of the world of Dune including the rival families of House Harkonnen and House Corino.
The film stars Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Zendaya as Chani, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Javier Barden as Stilgar, Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam, David Dastmaclhian as Peter de Vries, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat, Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Liet Kynes, and Chen Chang as Dr. Wellington Yueh.
What do you make of Villeneuve’s comments? What kind of readjustments do you think he will be making?