‘The Batman’ is out in cinemas on 4th March and earlier this week I had the honour of interviewing Matt Reeves, the Director. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Dylan Clark, the Producer.
The interview was part of a virtual roundtable, which I loved! It was so great to get the opportunity to speak with Matt about his inspirations and passion for the film, I could have listened to him talk for hours. Here is the audio transcription of my interview with ‘The Batman’ Director, Matt Reeves.
Me: Hi Matt, my name is Tasmin from The Aspiring Kryptonian.
Matt Reeves: Hi!
Something that I think you do really well in this film is the design of Gotham and all of the characters, it’s very true to the comics, but it also has a uniqueness to it. How did you find the balance to that?
You know, my production designer James Chinlund has been working with me since the Planet Of The Apes movies and it was an unusual circumstance because of how I came onto Dawn (Of The Planet Of The Apes) he was already on the movie and there was a sort of trial period where we would see if we got along and we totally did. I came in and completely changed the story, so to be working on the script and have your production designer already on, that’s a very unique circumstance.
I liked it so much on Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes that I did it again on War Of The Planet Of The Apes, and I loved it so much on War, that I did it on this. So while I was writing I would be sending pages to James and we were talking a lot about Gotham and exchanging visual references and to me what was really important was that the character of Gotham was going to be super important, because this is an explication on the history of the corruption of this place and in that way it’s definitive as to why Batman is the way he is and the way Selina is the way she is.
They are all affected by the history of this place and so we wanted that place to feel comic book accurate, we wanted it to feel gothic. We also wanted to feel like it wasn’t a particular place specifically, because people could say “oh it looks like New York or Chicago” and so instead what we decided to do is try and find a way to find that gothic architecture where we could and then use CG to amplify and extend by adding more modern buildings. We shot in Glasgow, we shot in Liverpool, we shot in places where it wasn’t like “oh theres’s the Gotham Square”, I didn’t want it to seem like that, it would be either Piccadilly and you’d say oh I guess Gotham Square is London. Or It’d be New York and Time Square and you’d say that’s New York. So we used Liverpool where there were no tall buildings and added them all after, so you’d go “Oh that kinda looks like Times Square, but it’s not” and so it would all feel like a new place.
And then the last part of it was just the sets that James built, we built a back lot which was the outside of the footing of the key bridge where Falcone was living, and the Iceberg Lounge was there and the The Riddler was across the street. All of that was built on the lot and all of the interiors that you see, Wayne Tower, the interior of Falcone’s, The Riddler’s apartment, the Mayor’s apartment, were all sets that were built by an incredible London crew. The craftsmanship in London is astonishing. Honestly, you’d close a door and it’d close solid and you’d be like “wow, I’d wish they’d come and build my house”, it was that good. It was really the design of those sets and the execution of that, James just did astonishingly beautiful work. It was very important to me that it feel gothic and unique.
There are a lot of action packed moments in this film, what was the most challenging one to film and capture?
Gosh, I mean The Batmobile chase was incredibly involved and it took months of planning. What was fun on this movie was being able to use VR to shot make, and so I was able to find those shots in VR. That shot that’s in the trailer that’s upside down and from Penguins point of view, once we found all the lenses, I was able to give that package to the VR team and then I could put on the goggles and say “can you show me what an 88” looks like here?” So to find those shots that was really cool, but then the idea was that then so now the idea of going to realise that and the number of people involved to jump the Batmobile through fire, that was a thing that took a team of brilliant artists and technicians to pull off.
You imagine when you’re writing a Batmobile chase, I wanted it to feel very practical, very visceral and very point of view driven. I wanted hard mounts attached to the side of the car so when the car shook, the camera shook, and you felt like it was ‘The French Connection’. I wanted it to feel old school, but then actually pulling that off, especially at the scale of this, with the spectacle that we do and the giant eighteen wheelers and all that stuff, it’s incredibly involved. It was an exciting process, but it was hard. Especially given it was pouring rain thorough the whole sequence and not only that but Dominic Tuohy, our special effects person who figured it out. We did that for real, that wasn’t a CG effect, so the car actually jumps through fire in that scene, but to get him to do what he’s doing and then WETA come in and do what they’re doing. Their work on that sequence is amazing and when it comes down to the production designer in terms of the car and what my stunt co-ordinator Rob Alonso and second unit team were doing. It was just amazing work and everybody was just working at the top of their game to try and pull that off.
They definitely pulled it off, thank you Matt.
Once again a huge thank you to Warner Brothers UK for this incredible opportunity, I truly hope this isn’t the last!
‘The Batman’ is out in cinemas on 4th March.