Brew correspondant Steve Segal sends us a link to a San Francisco Chronicle article about Brad Bird, recently speaking at the San Francisco Film Festival. Steve was there and took some notes of his own:
He spoke rhapsodically about the communal movie going experience of days gone by, like waiting in line for the original Star Wars. He enjoys waiting in line, he understands the mindset of the people who are right now waiting in line for the final episode of Star Wars. He also related a story about seeing Spiderman 2 with his three sons opening day at midnight at one of the few single screen theatres left in the bay area. Days later his wife (a film person, “would I have anybody else”) was screaming at the projectionist of her hometown Vermont theatre because the film had a scratch through the entire film.He talked about the projection equipment called platters which allows an entire movie to be put on one reel. Wear is avoided by opening up the gate a little, which results in a slightly out of focus picture. Whereupon he went into his yokel impression, “Mr. Johnson sayed it wuz shot thet way”. He also dislikes commercials and congratulated audiences in LA who regularly boo at the commercials (not trailers, that’s part of the movie going experience, as long as they don’t give away too much of the plot). Googolplexes, as he calls them, has led to smaller screens, partly because of the well intentioned Americans with disabilities act, which stipulates that theatres with more than 300 seats must provide access for handicapped to every seat. The result being not better access, but smaller theatres. Bird reasoned you only need some of the seats to have that access not EVERY seat.He sees 3D (stereoscopic movies, not computer graphics) as a possible thwart to bootleggers, since the image is fuzzy if you don’t wear the glasses. So taking a video camera into the theatre wouldn’t work very well (I’m not sure if he’s given any thought to putting a lens from the glasses over the camera). He declared the new digital 3D projection the best 3D he’s ever seen, and even a clip from the original Star Wars, which had been converted from 2D to 3D, was “much better than you’d think”.In the Q & A he compared working on Iron Giant with being on the Titanic since Warners had already decided to close the studio, but it was as if they left the booze cabinet on the Titanic unlocked, “we could do anything we wanted, there was nobody around”. Warners was unprepared for the success and had no marketing in place. He was extremely complimentary of the three visionary geniuses at Pixar Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and Steve Jobs. And mentioned when he decided to make Incredibles in wide screen Steve Jobs explained, very analytically, that there are many theatres where that will result in a smaller, not larger picture. He then complimented Jobs when he calmly accepted Bird’s decision to use wide screen. He pointed out that Lasseter’s Cars is also in wide screen When asked to do Edna he hesitated for a moment then said “You poosh to hard, dahling” and then mentioned interviewers who can’t believe he did the voice, or at least assume it’s somehow processed, so he must do the voice to convince them.