AS: Do you tend to work with the same crew every time?
JM: I’ve been lucky over the past three or four years to be able to work with the same team. Which, when you’re able to do that, is an absolute joy. Because I’ve met some really talented people that are really fun to be around and when you know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses that’s fantastic. I’ve been very lucky with that. Previously I’ve just been thrown into a brand new city or a brand new country where, because of the budget, I need to hire a whole local crew. Which is exciting in its own way. I mean travel is one of the most important things. New experiences and seeing how people make movies differently in different parts of the world is all fantastic. But there is something really lovely when you’re able to work with a set decorator that you’ve worked with before or with an art director you’ve worked with before. It’s terrific.
AS: In Wanted was that a whole Eastern European crew?
JM: I was able to bring two or three people over but it was ninety-eight percent a local Czech Republic crew.
AS: And for your upcoming movie you were debating shooting some of it here or in China…
JM: I think one of the reasons Disney brought me on so early and wanted to do a real development of what the visuals of the movie would be so quickly, was the big question they had: It’s set in China, but are we shooting it in China? I sat down with Francis Lawrence, the director, and we started talking. We both had this ideal that it would be this kind of heightened reality. And it is a fairy-tale. It’s almost a super-hero fairy-tale the way we’re approaching it and it seems like everything we’re going to need architecturally is so specific and so heightened and so changed in scale that I’ve a feeling there’s probably not a huge amount of architecture that we’d be shooting in China. So the architecture will probably be built on stages.
But I’m sure we’ll end up going to China for some of the landscapes which are just amazing. I mean for years and years I’ve been wanting to go and look at some of these amazing mountain ranges that are in China that I’ve seen in picture books. So doing the research on it has been fantastic. There are some landscapes that you can only get in China and I think that we’d actually love to go to China to shoot those. So we’ll see but that’s what part of this whole development process is –we’ll look at all angles. The fun thing about this project right now is that we’re going at it just visually and creatively. We’re first coming up with what we want it to look like and then seeing what’s the best way to make that happen.
AS: Lately with the tax incentives going on in other states it seems that most film production is leaving LA. What are your thoughts about LA losing film production?
JM: It’s really sad that Hollywood is losing films. And there are some films, like Memoirs of a Geisha you had to have made in Hollywood. You needed the skilled craftspeople. You needed the metalworkers that are only in Hollywood, the sculptors, the painters, the plasterers, the prop people, the set decorators. When you have a crew of three hundred people in construction you can’t train everybody up. And it’s here in Hollywood. It’s also in London but it’s only in a couple places in the world. So it’s really tough when I’m hearing that really big, designed films are leaving Hollywood and going to Detroit or going to Santa Fe or going to Shreveport. It’s just really, really tough on everybody. It’s tough on the families that live here and people who want to work here and it’s tough on the filmmakers that are being asked or told to go to places where you don’t have the resources.