General Chat > Film Discussion

DREDD screenwriter Alex Garland answers YOUR questions!

(1/30) > >>

Hi everyone. 

I'm glad of this chance to finally communicate with you.

I read the 2000AD message boards through pre-production, shooting, and post-production.  I never posted, because I thought it would muddy the waters.  But I appreciated what I read here immensely, and paid close attention to your hopes and concerns, and found it extremely motivating.  The forum was also a brilliant resource.  I could always tell when a story had broken about the production, because the page count on the main thread would jump.

I have a particular sense of gratitude to Goaty, because he was so optimistic and supportive.  He lifted me out of some very dark moods.  I was also frequently grateful for Joe Soap's ability to correctly interpret a situation, and debunk a rumour, based on very little information.  In fact, he was sometimes so accurate that I used to wonder if he worked on the production.  He must surely work in post production.  (Are you an editor, Joe?)

As you have already noticed, I put some thank-yous in the movie, in the form of Easter Eggs.  There's a few left - Radiator and Joe Soap among them.  But there are so many others I could have included, like Crave Noir, who has done an amazing job on his twitter feed, and a very erudite guy who posts on other sites called Sauchie Boy.  The list is huge.

I hope that the names I did include can be seen as a representative thank-you to all of you.  That aside, obviously, I really hope you like the film.  In a tangible way, not just as name-checking, it was made for you.

Anyway.  I'll answer the questions, and then go back to radio silence.




Q:  I was wondering about the collaboration with John Wagner - obviously without going into specifics, how much did the film and the script change as a result of his input?

The film is already quite notorious for it's violence - did you encounter problems with this aspect? Was there ever a pressure to tone things down?

A:  Hi, Radiator. 

John read the script in various forms and drafts, he saw concept art and uniform/bike designs, he came to the set, and he saw different cuts of the film.  Each time, I would sit down with him afterwards and listen carefully.  And invariably, after our exchange, something in the film would change.  You said don't go into specifics - but I will give an example, just because it's illustrative.  About halfway through post-production, John saw an edit and said he thought there should be another moment with Anderson, right at the very end of the film.  We didn't have the money to create the moment in our reshoots.  So instead I took a Dredd/Anderson two-shot from the start of the movie, got Dredd digitally erased from the frame, and stuck it where John suggested.  And he was right.  It made a huge difference to the ending.  And - I'm sure you realise - that example is just one of many.

John is modest about his contribution, but it was considerable.  And the same is true of Jock, by the way, on both counts.

With regard to the violence, I saw on these boards that there was a rumour many months ago about the violence needing to be toned down.  That particular rumour was not true.  All the financiers and distributors had read the script, and knew exactly what they were getting into.


Q: You mentioned at LFCC that if Dredd took £50 mil at the US box office we will definitely get to have sequels. If we were to get sequels on the scale of Total war or Necropolis for example how big a budget would you need? What would you have liked to include in this film but were unable to due to budgetary concerns that you'd like to include in future films?

A:  Difficult to say what money you would need to do one of those big destruction epics properly.  You could spend north of $100 million perfectly easily.  But if you were clever, much less.  Dredd would have cost at least twice as much as it did, if not for the miracle work of Michael Elson, John Thum and their VFX team.  They show what can be achieved by having an intelligent and brave approach to CG, to work around limited resources.  But if you want a figure, I'll say $60M, just in case someone actually offers the money to do it...

In terms of what I would have liked to do in this film, but couldn't... in general terms I would have liked to spend more time showing the immense texture and variety of Mega City One.  And I wanted to swap out (or modify) most of the vehicles, but in the end it was too expensive.


Q:  I'd just like to ask, are there any supporting characters from the Judge Dredd comic strip that you would like to appear in any future films?

A:  If I was involved in a second movie, it would be about origins and subversion, and Chopper would feature.  In fact, I think Chopper would start and end the story.  Apart from him, my rough plan involves Fargo, Giant, Angel Gang, and a version of Satanus.  For a trilogy, add Cal and the dark judges.  And Anderson would be in all three.  But... just to be clear, this is hugely speculative and also unlikely, for any number of reasons. 


Did you enjoy productions of Dredd? I was wonder, is there many more names of City blocks for us to find, can you give us more clues?

I was wonder as you are the fan of 2000AD, what is your favourite 2000AD characters/stories, and Dredd story (maybe your fave three Dredd stories as if one was America so be fair  )

A:  Goaty, you're awesome.  And by the way, you haven't spotted your only cameo.

The production was hard, but - yes - very enjoyable.  The cast and crew were full of fiercely talented and totally committed people.  When the cameras rolled, Karl Urban became Dredd in a way that was exhilarating for a middle-aged Dredd fan to see.  And working alongside people like Anthony Dodd Mantle, who filmed the movie, and was fundamental in creating the aesthetic, is deeply rewarding and educational.

Apart from Peach Trees and Sternhammer, most of the block names are named after artists and writers of 2000AD, one with a horrifically embarrassing typo.  One block was named after Tom Frame, for reasons you will all understand.  I called one block Elysium, as a nod to the follow-up toBlomkamp's District 9, because District 9 helped us get Dredd made, and was a brilliant movie besides.  A couple of blocks are named after friends.  And there was also a block (Atlantic Towers) which was chosen as a deliberately neutral and non-distracting name, because of the particular shot it appears in.

Yes, I'm a fan of 2000AD.  Favourite Dredd stories (and long-running characters), apart from America...  Judge Child, Cal, Chopper, Orlok, Kenny Who, Origins. 


Q:  Given that, I imagine (well a man's allowed to) you live a jet setting life style, surrounded by glamorous movie types and famous, shiny actors and the like what was meeting John Wagner like? Does a man so  well versed (???) with celebrity still get star struck when you meet someone whose created an icon?

What did you think of The Peach Tree and have you been back?

Edited - uh one more going on from Goaty's question. Which other 2000ad character would you like to see made into a movie, regardless of practicalities and what character do you think might actually make the best movie?

A:  Some might say that finding time to answer all the questions on this thread is not indicative of a jet set life...

On my first meeting with John, we arranged that he would pick me and Andrew up at the train station.  I emailed to ask how I would recognise him, and he wrote back saying: I look like a bent cop.  He's right.  He does.  But it really made me laugh, and stopped me from feeling nervous.

Peach Trees was great.  On our next meeting, we unwisely went somewhere else, where we bought 1970s-style British Rail ham and cheese sandwiches.  Nostalgic, but not as good as the Peach Trees club with fries.

If I were to work on another 2000AD character?  Strontium Dog or Button Man.  But I tried to get Button Man, and John went with Nicolas Winding Refn instead.  Which - and I mean this sincerely - was a better choice. Nicolas Winding Refn is perfect for it.


Q:  Mr. Garland what is your one overall favourite aspect of the Dredd universe?

A: Does it sound too glib if I say 'Dredd'?  If so, then I would say Mega City One.  I think the city and the mega blocks are almost as brilliant an invention as the judges.


Q:  What's more scarey, Zombie fans or Dreddheads? and who would win in a fight?

A: Dreddheads seem like a largely friendly bunch, on the basis of these boards.  But why does there have to be a fight?  Why can't the world just get along?


Q:  Are there any other 2000 AD strips you think could work well on the big screen, and would you been keen on working on such films, given the opportunity/budget/stars aligning?

A:  As mentioned above, I think Button Man is a natural for a film.  It's extremely cinematic, and a very pure concept.  You could say the same for Rogue Trooper as well.  It wouldn't surprise me if film producers started mining 2000AD in the way that Marvel and DC have been mined.  But I don't think it will be me working on those things.  On Dredd we (we being Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich and me) were punching above our weight, in budget terms.  I think most 2000AD stories require a level of finance that I am not suited for.


Q: Do you feel at all daunted by the fact that America are getting Dredd after the UK? and do you feel more suited towards action films after now filming Dredd? or are you happiest mixing it up?

I would just like to thank you and everybody concerned with getting Dredd to the cinema's.and hopefully Dredd will lead to more Dredd film's and more exposure to 2000ad

A: Thanks for the kind words.

Releasing the film in the UK first is a gamble, but I think it's appropriate.  It's a British comic and a British film.  And if it's going to work anywhere, I guess it's here.  And yes, I definitely like mixing it up, in terms of projects.  Right now, I'm not in any hurry to do an action movie, and am hoping to do something much quieter and slower, more in the Never Let Me Go/Sunshine mode.

I agree with regard to exposure to 2000AD.  I very much hope the same thing.


Q: Did you read 2000AD when you were younger?  Which 2000AD characters appealed to you the most?

Which writers past and present do you admire ? Amongst their works which would you most want to convert into a screenplay?

Have you an idea so momentous you can't wait to turn it into the hottest script property ever and can you give us a clue, cryptic or otherwise to what that might be  ?

A:  I did read 2000AD when I was younger.  I started during the Judge Child quest, and it blew my mind.  I'd never read anything remotely as visceral and exciting.  My favourite character apart from Dredd was Strontium Dog.  I reread much of that material in the recent(ish) Rebellion reprints.  They're even better than I remembered.  Stunning.  And arguably Ezquerra's most amazing work.  I think he's the absolute equal of Möbius, and I feel surprised he isn't more acknowledged as one of the all-time great comic book artists.

In terms of writers, I particularly admire JG Ballard, Kazuo Ishiguro, John Wagner, and Alan Moore.  I was consciously influenced by all of them.

As for whether I have ever had an idea for the hottest script property ever, self-evidently, no.


Q: Cheers for the letter and prop, Alex!

I've read a bunch of interviews with yourself since this whole thing kicked off but I'm really curious as to why you chose Dredd as a project. Was this something in the back of your mind you'd always wanted to do or was it a case of somebody reminding you of the character one day years after reading the strip and giving you an idea...?

The relatively low budget's always mentioned with this movie and personally speaking, I felt the stripped down approach is to the movie's advantage in setting it apart from all the usual comic-book bilge. There's no over-designing with the production, everything is simply there for functionality and leaves you able to focus completely on the stuff that matters (and costs nothing) like character and story. However, would you be willing to speculate how differently you might have approached the script had you been able to raise $250 mil? Would you have approached it differently at all...?

A:  Blackmocco, it was the least I could do.  I felt deeply frustrated when I read what had happened to you.  And then felt equally pleased that in the end, the film was worth the wait. 

I started working on Dredd because Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich at DNA were smart enough to realise they could get the rights.  They then asked if I wanted to be involved, and I made it clear that if I wasn't involved we would never speak again.

As to the budget question... In film-theory terms, it's a really interesting area.  I genuinely believe that big budgets don't help creativity.  Not only because a big budget creates a brutally pressing need to recoup, but also because the tight parameters of low budgets force you to take creative risks.  So - honestly - I would have turned down $250M, because it doesn't interest me.  That said, I would have liked to have been able to have more options with a couple of the sequences, and more 'money' VFX shots.  So if someone would have offered me an extra $5-10M, I'd have bitten their hand off.  But no more than that.


Q:  If the studio commissions a sequel, would you definitely do it? Or have we assumed too much?

A:  There are some variables which would rule me out immediately. 


Q: Alex, what question should we have asked?

A: Don't tempt me. 


Q:  Is there any chance you might pen a Dredd episode for the Prog?

A:  I tried!  Found it incredibly intimidating.  Matt Smith ended up writing it instead, and made it obvious why I was intimidated.


Q: Perhaps not all that original but in your view, is Dredd a hero or villain? Taking into account what he actually stands for...

A:  Technically, I'd say he's an anti-hero.  But if you had to choose between the two, he's a hero, because his moral compass is correctly aligned.



Q: As (some) cinema goers seem to be a bit jaded by 3D, I love how you cleverly incorporated it into the movie as almost an integral part of the plot. IF we get sequels, do you envisage those to be in 3D and if so, have you thought of another way to exploit the medium?

A:  Hello, Pete.  I really regret not putting your name on a block.  Next time, if there is one...

I like 3D - which is deeply unfashionable in film circles - and think that there are several of Anthony Dodd Mantle's shots that are objectively better in stereo than mono.  But... it's such a fucking drag making 3D on a budget.  Every VFX shot effectively has to be done twice.  There are two times the chances of a camera rig breaking down on set.  It hates fast camera moves.  It hates objects breaking the frame in the wrong way.  And so on.

But in the end, once we had found the right look for the slo mo drug (at the very, very closing stages of post) I was really pleased that we had persevered and made it as a stereoscopic movie.

By the way, for the record, the amount of bullshit spoken about 3D is unreal, particularly with reference to shooting in 3D versus post-conversion.  We shot in 3D, but often one lens was bust, so we post-converted.  No one can tell the difference unless they are real experts.  And often the converted shot looks better, because you have more flexibility in the stereo.  The only reason converted films got a bad reputation is because the work was rushed on some of the notable examples.  But that's like saying CG is crap, on the basis of a dodgy effects movie. 


Q: Are you up to date with your Dredd epics and can you call a favourite? With your zombie experience could you see Judgement Day being the sequel? If not I'll take anything that isn't 'Crusade'.

A:  I'm not up to date with Dredd epics.  I reached a point of Dredd saturation during the edit, and stopped reading.  I'm still in that state, to be honest, but that might change once the film is out, and can stop obsessing about what we didn't do.

Favourite epic: Origins.

And no to Judgement Day.  I'm done with zombies.  I don't have any ideas left to steal from George Romero. 


Q:  Would like to ask what you found the most challenging aspect of adapting the character of Judge Dredd for the big screen and how you decided on the tone of the film.

A:  Did we meet at that London comic con thing, after the Q&A?  If so, hi.  If not, hi anyway.

Honestly, adapting Dredd as a character was not hard.  He is so well defined by the comics.  There was no research.  I wasn't looking to reinvent him.  And when I got stuff wrong, Wagner was at hand to put it right.

As for the tone, I did the same thing I always do, since I first started writing.  Which is basically to approach genre as if it is real.  For me, Dredd is in a continuum with 28 Days Later, not least because they were both filmed by the same guy.


Q:  I was wondering, perhaps a little oddly...  While conceiving of the fabric of the film’s content and what to combine and concentrate upon for the best dramatic impact and storytelling platform to put the character of Judge Dredd on...  Were there any particular aspects of the setting or character that you were most content to leave out, at least with this opening salvo? 

A: I tried not to leave anything out about Dredd's character, except I suppose that I imagined him a younger Dredd, pre the Cursed Earth walk (though that's a loose imagining, and doesn't stand up to much cross examination).  In terms of the city and the world, I was very content to avoid the overt comedy and overt satire - because I'm crap at it.  I'm sure it can be done, but I'm definitely the wrong person for the job.  I'm more comfortable with dry comedy and implicit satire.


Q: If a sequel is made will you be shooting some of it in the UK and can we all be extras? 

A:  It's hard to shoot a medium-budget film like this in the UK because of the cost.  But if it is, you can definitely all be extras.


Q:  Cut out this Dredd film nonsense. When are we going to get a Judge Burdis miniseries?

A:  The boards are already a Judge Burdis mini series.  Or at least a Doomlord-style photo series.


Q: I'm just wondering, is Alex a comics fan in general? We know he's a fan of Judge Dredd, but is there anything else he's picking up? Anything that maybe ignites the old spark that says 'I wouldn't mind talking a crack at filming this'?

A:  I'm a big comics fan.  My dad worked as a cartoonist, so I grew up around comics.  He was really keen on Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder (if those names mean anything to you).  I think for that reason, I'm a big fan of Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and Dave Sheridan, who were the direct descendants of Kurtzman and Elder.  Likewise their modern descendants,  like Daniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel, and Chris Ware.  I was never very into the American superhero comics.  But I liked Jack Kirby drawings, and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, and Watchmen (obviously).

I think one of the reasons I liked 2000AD so much was that - like the Shelton/Crumb/Zap underground comic scene - it was subversive.


Q: If you get the chance in the future how would you tackle the dark judges transfer from comic to screen?

A:  I think I'd try to make them really scary.  Not play them for laughs.  Just make them totally malevolent and lethal.  And use practical effects where possible, except for Fire, which would be an on-set nightmare.


Q:  I'd like to know how you felt when you heard that the intial Peach Trees script had leaked online? Was it a big worry, or could you view it as something positive?

A:  It was really bad news.  Can cause huge problems.  One is that the film can get negatively pre-judged, which gives everyone an uphill battle from then on.   

On the plus side, Internet chatter generated by the leaked script did illustrate to financiers that there was a level of interest in a Dredd film that many of them were not expecting.  But given a choice, I would definitely have preferred that the script was not leaked.


Question one : Out of the following non-2000ad British comic stories, which would you most like to see adapted for the silver screen?
A) Doomlord
B) The Thirteenth Floor
C) Bananaman?

Question two : Did you add the 's' onto the end of Peach Tree on purpose?

A:  Of those three choices, I'll go with Doomlord.  But if I could choose my own, Axel Pressbutton.

And no, I just misremembered Peach Trees.  And I also misspelled O'Neill's name on his block, which I'm just completely confused and mortified about.


Q:  How much input did you have on the film version of Tesseract?

A:  Zero.  Likewise The Beach.  Lesson learned, after it happened twice.


Q: I've loved seeing all the background Easter Eggs that seem to have been put in JUST for the hardcore fans to find... block names, graffitti, bits in the news footage. I imagine when the blu-ray eventually comes out there will be people scanning it frame by frame to make sure they dont miss any

Was it an overall conscious decision to put stuff like this in or is it just something the design team have run with?

A:  Mark Digby's brilliant design team put in several Easter Eggs, though often they were aimed at crew.  Using images and names of friends and people on the crew, for example.  They also were clever about referencing the world of Mega City One, in terms of adverts, products, shop signs, etc.  But in a way, these are production design texture as much as Easter Eggs.

Most of the Easter Eggs I put in were names of forum members and 2000AD creatives.  I also put in a couple of friends who are Dredd fans, and a few poker players I admire, and (the best hidden) the gamer-tags of some people I play with on X-Box live.


Q: How did you feel about the decision to put the film before a crowd at SDCC12 - knowing that a harsh reaction from them would have basically killed the film before it was even released ?

If/ when there is a sequel, what will you change in your approach to it from your experience of the first ?

A: I was very worried, for exactly the reason you mention.  But... a point comes when a film comes out and... must be judged.  I say that with the same emotionally charged voice as Stallone when he reveals that he judged Rico.  So, I hope you're moved.

My tonal approach to a sequel would be the same.  But I'd definitely want to open out the story much more, within Mega City One, but also into the Cursed Earth.  And I would want to continue to exploring the character of Dredd. 

But by the way, just so it has been said, I actually think that maybe the best way forward for Dredd is television.  American TV has completely rewritten the rule book where filmed drama is concerned.  Game Of Thrones/The Wire/Breaking Bad... An equivalent version of Dredd would be fucking great.  Imagine the epics...


Hi Alex,

When the announcement came for the Dredd panel to be at LFCC on both days, were you apprehensive, as this was the first true face to face meeting with the fans. Especially after the Lawmaster picture was leaked and also the strange comments about the helmet being too large!

After the Saturday panel did you then realise that the Dredd fans and general action fans were with you and did this put you in a more confident mood for the rest of the weekend and also for that tiny event over in America. I think it's called SDCC!

Is the cut of the film that we are about to see 'THE CUT' or will we see a Special Edition with even more gore in the future?

Do you know of many scenes that have been cut and if so will we see these (this goes part in part with the previous question)

Seeing as everyone else has asked most of the questions I was going to ask I shall ask a few about the DVD.

Will you be doing a commentary and if so, with who?
Is there a gag reel?
Will the DVD have an ability to go to all the little references to artists, writers, fans, etc.. I think Spaced did something with their series collection. Otherwise we may be sat glued to the screen for ever!

A:  Hello, John.

Yeah, Dredd was years of work, and presenting it to the public was scary.  About the helmet and bike - I always felt confident about the bike because I knew the difference between the leaked shot and what we had filmed.  But the helmet was trickier.  In truth, from some angles, it does look bloody enormous.  There are complex issues with the construction of the helmet which don't manifest in a 2D drawing.  It's like you'd want to build two helmets - one for straight on, and one for profile.  But three quarter angle, it always worked pretty well.

In terms of current confidence, I feel better than I did, but in no way is the movie out of the woods.  It has some huge tests ahead of it. 

Yes, the cut you will see is the cut.

Very few scenes, violent or otherwise, were entirely lost.  For people who know film making, the editor Mark Eckersley's assembly cut was 97 minutes.  That carries with it many implications, which I'm going to guess that Joe Soap would understand, one of which is that there wasn't much luxury about dropping material.  So Mark, Allon Reich (producer) and I spent a lot of time finding ways to use everything we had.  Flopping shots,  playing shots backwards, using shots twice by reframing, using sections of scenes to make new Frankenstein scenes.  Every trick we could think of.

I think it highly unlikely I will do a DVD commentary, for many reasons.  This q&a is as close as I'll get.  If I did, I'd do it with Anthony Dodd Mantle, then sit back and let him do all the talking.  And dancing... which leads me to your next question...

... because there is a gag reel.  It's mainly of Anthony dancing, and it's brilliant.

I have no idea what will happen with the DVD extras, except that if I have any say in the matter I'd love it to include some Judge Minty material.  But ultimately, it has nothing to do with me.  It's a distributor issue.


Q:  Would you like to buy a Yamaha APX5 acoustic guitar off me? Comes with case, but it's been gigged a bit, to put it mildly. I'm saving up for one of those new little fender Excelsior amps, but I'm a bit skint til October.

A:  The APX5?  If only it was the APX3.2, with reverse transformer blades, and nickel flex-retainers.  I'd buy that off you like a shot, because then I'd have the set.


 Q: How much did avoiding the shadow of the Stallone film influence the direction you took for Dredd?

If you'd had the budget of that film, would you have liked to have gone further future in set design/vehicles, or do you think the backlot nature of those types of sets is too restrictive even with a large budget.

A: Hi Steve.  The Stallone movie didn't consciously affect me at all.  The two films never felt like they were arguing over the same patch of ground.  Honestly, it was rarely mentioned during development or production, and we never all sat down and watched it, or anything like that.

Yes to vehicles, to a point.  No to set design.  Sets of exterior streets are inherently problematic and usually betray themselves, even on huge budgets.  One of the first creative decisions that Andrew, Allon and I made was that whenever we could, we would shoot in real locations, and add to reality with CG, rather than rely on CG set extensions.


Q: Alex - Dredd seems very stripped down and 'realistic' (for want of a better word) compared to the world of the comics - was this a conscious choice, and if so, how do you feel about handling more overtly fantastical or science fictional elements in possible sequels? You have mentioned presenting the Dark Judges as an 'existential' threat - can you elaborate on that at all?

Essentially - is there an attempt to ape Christopher Nolan's Batman films - to remain true to the spirit of the comics while rationalising the universe to an extent?

Also - is Judge 'Lex' a little bit of sneaky wish-fullment on your part? 

A: My 'style', for want of a better word, is part stripped down realism, and part trippy and hallucinatory.  That's been the case since my first published story, The Beach.  So yes, it's totally conscious.  And also the trippy stuff allows for some quite extreme imagery, which I think could absolutely accommodate characters like the Dark Judges.

The existential side to the Dark Judges is that they don't see a point to life.  If my film-trilogy daydream was to play out, I would completely rewrite my original script for the Dark Judges - because it was junk - and start again.  And I'd make them deeply fucking weird and spooky, and sort of philosophical.  And if everyone hates that idea, relax, because it'll never happen.

Definitely not trying to ape Nolan.  No disrespect to him in the slightest.  Just not the case.  To me, by the way, the exemplar of your description (staying true to a comic while rationalising the universe) is Alan Moore. 

Lex is actually (part of) the name of one of my X-Box live friends.  But he gets called Lex online. 


Q:  You described the need to earn $50 million (plus) at the US box office before a sequel could be guaranteed as a "simple financial equation". Are there really no more important variables? If the film did slightly less than $50 million in the US, but took many multiples of the production budget internationally, would that still not balance the equation?

How much creative input do DNA have in how the film is marketed in TV, press and on social media? Are you (collectively) coordinating and approving things like posters, taglines, trailers, and the timing of their release; or are the distributors in individual territories coming up with strategies for their own markets?

Can you say anything about the decision to feature the number '3' and the letter 'D' so prominently in the film's promotional material? This question was brought to you by Sesame Street and was a production of the Childrens' Television Workshop.

How integral was the decision to shoot the film in 3D in determining the kind of film you wanted to make? Were you certain the film would use that process when you were formulating your story, and did it influence the development of the concept of slo-mo? Were you thinking of how the film would function visually (in terms of these techniques) at the script stage?

Can you talk a little about the thematic importance of slo-mo to the film? What does it communicate to the viewer about the nature of the city and the lives of its citizens?

I've heard directors like PT Anderson and Chris Nolan talk about screening old films before and during production to give cast and crew an idea of the general tone of the film and the dynamics of specific scenes. If you'd done the same thing for Dredd, what films would you have screened and why?

Karl Urban has spoken of compiling a scrap book of images and text from the comics as inspiration and as reference material for his work on the character. If you had done the same, what stories, lines and images would have guided your creation of the screenplay and the decisions you made on set?

A:  Yes, you're right, there are variables.  But it would still be very hard to make a sequel if the film didn't perform in the US.  Dredd has different distributors in different territories.  If no American distributors are interested in the property, you have a big hole in your budget.  By the way, that $50M is not a totally reliable figure.  The variables have variables...

DNA can express an opinion on marketing, etc, but all that stuff is fundamentally in the hands of the distributor.  They bought it, so they sell it.  And they know their job.  I tend to stay completely out of it.

They call it 3D because we spent millions of dollars and God knows how much time and effort trying to make a cool 3D movie.  But the actual title of the film is not Dredd 3D.  It's Dredd.

At the point we raised finance, Avatar had just blown apart the film world.  During that period, if you tried to raise money for a film like Dredd, it had to be 3D.  There was no discussion, no choice.  So we embraced it.

I was definitely always thinking about how the film would work visually.  Like Sunshine, the visuals were a large amount of what the film was about.  In Sunshine, getting hypnotised by the sun.  In Dredd, the contrast between the hard reality of an urban slum, and the beautiful release of the slo mo narcotic.

The thematic importance of slo mo is essentially about violence, and the strange fascist wish fulfilment in Dredd.  So: the disconnect between what you see and what is happening.

High speed photography was perfect to explore this, because extreme slo mo is so distracting and compelling.  If you watch a bird flap its wings, or water splash, you sort of forget about the source image, and get lost in the abstract aesthetics.  I wanted to see what happened when that approach was done with someone getting shot.  Would the blood spray become abstracted?  Could you make a violent image so abstracted that it became totally aesthetic and non-violent, even when someone is getting their head crushed.

Yeah, it's pretentious.  I know, but don't care.  This stuff keeps me awake at night.

We did screen a film for the core production team.  Dirty Harry.

I did make a sort of scrap book, but it wasn't of images from the comic.  It was stuff like modern Chinese cityscapes and gang tattoos.


Q: You've already hinted at the Dark Judges for a potential sequel. Taking this into account, do you think it better to adapt villains who have already appeared in the comic, or to create brand new ones?

If the former, are there any other classic Dredd villains you'd like to introduce in any future films?

A:  Both.  If there is a sequel, I'm imagining spending about half the movie in the Cursed Earth, and I would try to come up with some new faces as well as some old ones.

I quite like the idea of Satanus.  But much more mutated.


 Q: I hate to ask this but, The premise of The Raid is eerily similar to Dredd. Do you ever wonder if somebody saw your leaked script, and maybe even on a subconscious level, reproduced it replacing the letter 'M' from the antagonists initials with a 'T'?

A:  Honestly, I really don't believe that The Raid ripped off Dredd.  And we didn't rip them off either.  The timing doesn't allow for it - not that time-based logic has stopped many film journalists from suggesting that we stole their material.


Q: Mayo or ketchup on chips?

A: Salt and vinegar.


Q:  If the dark judges made an appearance in a sequel would you keep the comic origin or come up with "your " universe origin would their look be radically  different?

A:  That's a really good question.  Without meaning to sound evasive, I would say that the current idea/image in my head is related to the comic origin/appearance in exactly the same way that the film's Dredd uniform is related to Ezquerra's design.  So, very broadly, Death would be in an actual judge's uniform that get progressively fucked up, rather than starting with a portcullis helmet.  But again, if you hate this idea, relax, because it will almost certainly never happen.

Steve Green:
These are a great read, thanks Mike and Alex.

- Steve

Yep the man who wrote the DREDD script took time out from a properly hectic schedule to answer our musings. Alex Garland is the Law!


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version