Practical Rules Over CG In “Blade Runner 2049”

Director Denis Villeneuve has had to jump between two big projects lately – doing the awards circuit promotion for “Arrival,” and filming and editing the highly anticipated “Blade Runner 2049”.

Speaking on Variety’s Playback podcast, Villeneuve calls the sequel to the Ridley Scott 1982 cinematic classic the riskiest project of his career:

“I feel [the pressure] every day. At the same time, I’ve never been that inspired and excited. I love risk. All of my projects have come with a certain amount of artistic risk, or sometimes a risk of how you portray reality.

I did a movie once about a school massacre and I had a huge responsibility to the victims of those events. I did a movie about a conflict in Lebanon, so there again, you have a strong responsibility to reality. When I did ‘Sicario,’ I felt responsible to how I would portray the Mexican society there. So I’m used to pressure. For ‘Blade Runner,’ it’s artistic pressure, and by far the biggest ever.”

Villeneuve and Johann Johannsson are currently working on the film’s score. One thing already decided is the visual effects with Villeneuve saying it’s important to maintain the connectivity with the first film and so practical is being used wherever possible:

“I’m very old school. I wish I had the chance to do my ‘Aliens’ as animatronics. That was my dream at the beginning [of ‘Arrival’]. We were dreaming to put them in a gigantic aquarium with gigantic beasts that would be moved by puppeteers. But sadly, it would have been too expensive. I hate green screens. It sucks out all my energy. I get depressed. I have an admiration for directors who can work with that on a daily basis. For ‘Blade Runner,’ we tried our best to do as much as possible in-camera, building everything.”

A key to that was acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins who may offer some of his best work to date in the new film:

“Roger was insanely impressive in how he was able to create landscape with tricks. For me it was beautiful. I think I can count on one hand how many times I saw a green screen in all of those months of shooting. There will be CG enhancements, of course, but as much as possible it was in-camera. Having witnessed what he’s done for months, I think it will be Roger Deakins’ best work. He was deeply inspired by the project.”

Villeneuve’s next film will be an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel “Dune” which he admits he wasn’t expecting to tackle so soon:

“Since I was 12 years old there was a book I read, which is ‘Dune,’ which is my favorite book, with ‘1984.’ After ‘Prisoners,’ the producer of Alcon asked me what I would like to do next. I said, ‘Dune,’ spontaneously, that if anyone could get me the rights for ‘Dune’ – and I knew it was very difficult to get those rights.

For me it was just a dream, and I guess I’m lucky that Mary Parent from Legendary got the rights and offered it to me. I can’t say no to that. I have images that I am haunted by for 35 years. I will not say no to that. That’s going to be the project of my life.”

“Blade Runner 2049” opens in cinemas on October 6th.