Joystiq were at the Halo 3 public beta event in New York this week and they had the opportunity to interview Frank O’Connor, Bungie’s writing lead — you probably all know him from the regular Friday updates he posts.
Here’s what he had to say about the on-hiatus Halo film that we haven’t heard much about in the past few weeks:
How about the movie? What’s happening there? I imagine that in your position that you’re also responsible for the writing on that.
Well, we certainly work with them on the story bible, but they have Hollywood script writers. They’re not just gonna let me sit and write a movie. But the movie’s on hiatus right now. They need to sort out the finances, the politics of it. It’s really common in the movie industry for would-be competitors to coöperate on products, and you add a studio and a big corporation like Microsoft in the mix and it’s really complicated. I personally wish that we kept up the momentum with the movie so that I could see it next year. That’s not going to happen. But technically the movie is still a work in progress that will happen one day so we’re just waiting until everything’s right and all our ducks are in a row to make it happen properly.
Are Microsoft, and Peter Jackson as producer, still wedded to Neil Blomkamp as director? That was one of the problems that the financiers had.
That was one of the rumors. It’s a lot more complicated than that. But Neil Blomkamp is still working really closely with Peter Jackson. Honestly, I’d be really curious to see what Neil Blomkamp — if you’ve seen any of his shorts — what he could do with the physicality of the Master Chief. Seeing the Master Chief in video games Videogame-Simulator-Job is one thing; he’s running around with guns and rocket launchers. I’d like to see him taking out some trucks bare-handed, clambering across rooftops, leaping from building to building, in a way that you can only really do in a movie. You can take such artistic liberties with the gameplay elements, that I think Neil Blomkamp would be able to do something fantastic but I literally don’t know if he would be the director who made the movie eventually. I have no idea.
He’s certainly an interesting choice, a unique choice.
As a director, he certainly speaks to the militaristic, realistic sort of anachronistic almost, human element that we have in the game. If you look at Halo, you’ll see that human technology in the 26th century is barely changed from the 21st. I think he’d be able to do some really interesting things with atmosphere as well as with action.
So it looks like things are still going to head forward sometime in the future, just the nitty gritty business deals and funding to get sorted, as per usual. Also… bring on the Halo 3 beta (did you all get your Halo 3 beta invite?), I think we’re all looking forward to it.
Full interview at Joystiq, read on for info about Halo 3 multiplayer, story lines and Peter Jackson’s episodic content.
Aint it Cool News is back again with another interview, this time they talk to Peter Jackson. Indeed it is a five part mammoth — part 3 refers to the progress of the Halo Movie.
This interview covers a number of important topics that are on the minds of those following the film’s development.
First and foremost Jackson discusses why Neill Blomkamp was chosen as director even though he has not produced a feature length movie until now. To paraphrase, Jackson comments on Blomkamp’s brilliant visual eye and storytelling ability — as apparent in his short films.
- He is an absolute Halo fan (and is thus not in it for the cash or publicity)
- He can provide a unique out-of-the-box approach as far away from current video game-movie adaptations as possible.
- He was chosen over many other applicant directors because his visions and plans are exciting and entirely new and the potential is great: Believe me, he’s doing something that is very, very different from what people are imagining, from what people have seen before. … It is original and new and has not been seen before on the screen. It’s not Ridley Scott, it’s not James Cameron, it’s not what we’ve seen before, but it’s something new and fresh and it’s cool. (Jackson states that Blomkamp has already spent 2 solid months working with Weta on every aspect of design).
Secondly, the script. It is not currently ready and at the moment Blomkamp is focusing on his vision of the Halo universe. We are slowly tugging away at it, getting it there.
Since Garland’s draft two new scripts have been written. Jackson states it is coming along nicely and although he, Fran and Philippa are not personally involved in the writing they are keeping a close eye and stringently policing its quality. Filming will not start until the script is “really great”. The time needed to develop the Halo world, the props and the physical realisation of the dream also allows time to perfect the script. There will be Covenant, Warthogs, Ghosts and Scorpions and even the Pillar of Autumn.
This topic has not yet been discussed, states Jackson. Though he imagines the studio will insist on PG-13 given the budget. He then goes on to discuss the possibility of a “hard R rating DVD” and the gruesome hardcore flood designs — pulsating, throbbing [and] oozing.
The key quote is:
[They all say] “You can’t make a good film out of a game.” Well, that’s all crap. Good films just need good characters, good storyline and a great director to bring it to life and make a film that you’ve never seen before.
This all sounds too perfect. Our favorite video game is being brought to life in the best possible manner — a revolutionary visionary (Blomkamp), crisp and unique visual effects (WETA) and a master at the helm (Jackson). The foundations are set and the building plans look hellacious — let’s just hope the studios don’t contract shoddy workmen — we dont want everything to fall down with the first tremor.
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Aint it Cool News are first to conduct an interview with Halo’s newly announced director (for examples of his work scroll down past this article). If you don’t want to read the full interview which is linked to above and has been reproduced below, here are the key points:
The key points to note:
– Neill Blomkamp is a big fan of the games and prefers Halo 1
– He is confident in his ability to create a feature film
– Being faithful to the game is important, especially concerning Master Chief
– Too early to consider actors and musical score
– The Covenant:
“the most important thing is that viewer thinks they are looking at something that lives and breathes, and exists […] they also need to be terrifying, and alien “
– The Flood:
“I absolutely love the flood, more importantly I love infected humans and covenant”
My goal is to make something that is honestly unique and a radical departure from stuff we are used to. I’ve been given the resources and the source material to make something awesome, so I have to really invest myself 100% in a film that I love every frame of
The Complete Interview
Quint: First and foremost, are you a fan of the games?
Neill Blomkamp: From a purely game playing perspective I am a massive fan of the games, but more importantly, i’m a massive fan of the world and universe of Halo, the science fiction world that the games take place inside of.
Quint: Which do you prefer, HALO or HALO 2?
Neill Blomkamp: From a playing perspective I like both. But from a conceptual and story perspective I prefer Halo 1.
Quint: You’ve worked in special effects before and have done many short films, commercials and videos. Did you do shorts like ALIVE IN JOBURG specifically to break into features with something like HALO?
Neill Blomkamp: No, I mean I’ve always wanted to eventually get into directing features, and it’s certainly where I want to be, but there was never a path or a specific plan to do that. Those pieces in a weird way I made for myself, it was just a learning process.
I have to be doing something creative all the time, I like just rolling up my sleeves and just making stuff, for the sake of learning, or experimenting, or messing around, shorts can be better than pretty much anything for that. Commercials I was beginning to find uncreative because your end goal is to sell a product, and music videos are really great, but you can’t really have dialogue, so I just defaulted to making my own pieces on the side of doing commercials, and ironically they seem better known then all the commercials, except that one for Adidas which was basically a short.
Quint: Are you nervous about tackling a movie as big as HALO as your first feature?
Neill Blomkamp: No, I’m not. I certainly respect how complex it is, and how much focus is required. There will be some very hard times, with tons of pressure but you work through it. I am so invested in it from a creative standpoint that my eye just stays on the end goal, I keep focused on making it exactly how I want it and treat every day as a path to that final product, plus the support from the New Zealand team is really amazing, its not like i’m out in the woods alone, they’ve done this back to back for like 10 years.
Quint: What’s your approach to the film? How do you plan on being faithful to the game while giving the audience something new?
Neill Blomkamp: I think you can be faithful to the game and just begin to layer things that have not yet been seen, over the fabric of what exists. You don’t want people who know the game to see the film and not have anything that isn’t new.
Quint: How has working with Weta and Peter Jackson been?
Neill Blomkamp: Working with Weta is amazing. Just such a creative group under one roof, it feels really good for me to able to collaborate with all of them, see the designs start finding their way into reality. Very rewarding, in a way I feel like I’ve found my home, all these people interested in the same stuff.
Peter is really great, a vault of knowledge, not only from a creative perspective, but also on a technical and logistical one.
Learning as much as I can about how to streamline this process and make everything be more efficient, its good to just throw things his way and see how he has already dealt with whatever it is, 100 times before.
Quint: How faithful do you plan on staying to the design of Master Chief’s armor?
Neill Blomkamp: Master Chief is certainly something that I do not want to change too much at all, there are certain things inside the Halo universe that are sacred and he’s the main one.
Having said that, there is a need to revise certain parts of him, just from a purely technical standpoint, he has to actually be able to move, like a human, and the game design right now does not allow for full motion freedom, which we will have to achieve.
Quint: Guy in a suit? CGI creation? Mixture of both?
Neill Blomkamp: Well, the film has to have a feeling of reality, and so that means that I want to keep him real as much as I can, there is a necessity for him to become cg in sequences where a guy in a suit would just not work, but for the most part I am aiming for real.
Quint: Will we see Master Chief’s face?
Neill Blomkamp: You’ll have to wait and see.
Quint: As far as Master Chief’s voice, will you consider Steve Downes, who voiced the character for the games or will you more than likely go with a bigger name?
Neill Blomkamp: It’s just too early to be able to know anything like that yet.
Quint: What do you feel is most important in bringing the Covenant to life?
Neill Blomkamp: Well, the most important thing is that viewer thinks they are looking at something that lives and breathes, and exists, so from an organic standpoint they have to be believable, they also need to be terrifying, and alien, and the best way to start doing that is to break that human silhouette, although many of them are bipedal anatomically, you can still shift the overall body to be something very alien, their motion must be alien too, the audience has to get a kick out of how real and menacing these things are, and how believable they are too.
Quint: Will any of the aliens be done practically?
Neill Blomkamp: Right now there is one of them that might very well end up being all practical.
Quint: How about The Flood? What’s your take on The Flood? That aspect has always been my favorite of the games.
Neill Blomkamp: I absolutely love the flood, more importantly I love infected humans and covenant, so that will absolutely have its place in the film. Halo is a perfect project for me, because it contains so many different things that fascinate me, one of which is the idea of biological evolution, and the flood is essentially a virus, it is a near perfect organism in terms of how resilient it is against natural threats, this feeling of evolution and why organisms evolve a certain way ties into the covenant and even the humans. And then of course on a pure thrill ride basis having the audience run into the flood in a narrow dark hallway is awesome.
Quint: I know this is very early, but will any of Marty O’Donnell’s score from the game make it over to the film? Is he a contender to compose the score for the movie?
Neill Blomkamp: It’s just way too early for any decisions like that
Quint: Are you planning any location shooting or will you be doing mostly green screen work?
Neill Blomkamp: I’m in the process now of sorting through all of our options, figuring all of that out, in the end the method is irrelevant as long as the audience is transported completely believably to where we need to put them, and so that’s the goal that everything needs to revolve around.
Quint: What’s the overall tone you want to strike with the movie? Escapist, big budget action fun? Gritty, realistic future war? Neither? Both?
Neill Blomkamp: Well, I don’t want to give away exactly how I want to be, but, big budget action can certainly look very similar to 100 other films which are big budget action, so my goal is to make something that is honestly unique and a radical departure from stuff we are used to.
I’ve been given the resources and the source material to make something awesome, so I have to really invest myself 100% in a film that I love every frame of, and for me to love every frame means it has to have something that sets it apart.
Fans of the game should love this film, people who don’t know the game should be transported to a place that blows them away for two hours.