Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Mr Starkey, once you go down this route is there always
a fear that you’ll end up with something akin to, dare I
say it, a film that didn’t work so well like Final Fantasy?
Tom Hanks: You guys are harsh on Final Fantasy
Zemeckis: Yeah, what’s the matter with
Final Fantasy? Did anybody see Final Fantasy?
Hanks: I saw Final Fantasy, it was ok, it was
like a video game story for a movie. I don’t know how great
that is but it’s not like they were diabolical geniuses.
They took a shot, it didn’t work, what are you gonna do?
Steve Starkey: It was a video game wasn’t
Hanks: I think it was.
Starkey: Any time you try something new it’s
a big risk, but hey, you’ve got Bob and Tom and the risk
is minimised. At the same time it’s exciting, challenging,
it’s the only we way we know to make movies around here
Q. This was released in America in IMAX format and it’s
coming out very soon here also. Tell us a little bit about that...
A. One of the great things is when you make a movie in
3D is that for IMAX normally you have to plan in advance, you
have to film for IMAX 3D. In this particular case the 3D material
existed in the computer and so we could go ahead and create that
version, if you will, in post production. So, it’s a completely
different experience. It’s the first time actually that
a feature length film has been done in IMAX.
Q. What would you like for Christmas?
A. Time off round a warm fire.
Q. During the course of the film each of the main children
learns a valuable life lesson. I was wondering if you could tell
me what the most valuable lesson you learned making the film was?
A. Well I took my grandson to see the movie and I asked
him: "What do you think it’s about?"
And he said: "It’s about believing. See, the children
they believed and they could hear the bell."
And strangely enough that’s what I took away from it when
I first read it.
Q. I see Alan Horne said that he was going to put the
film up for Best Picture nomination for an Oscar and Tom Hanks
as Best Actor nomination. I wondered how you felt about this seeing
as an animated film has only once ever been nominated?
A: We’re appreciative of that though again this
isn’t an animated film, it’s digitally rendered. The
acting is all acting, the directing is all directing so I think
aside from the academy creating a new category, which I don’t
think they’re going to do, I see no reason why it shouldn’t
be considered for best picture so yeah, I think it’s great.
Hanks: I think anybody that’s released
a movie offers up their picture for Best Picture and any actor
who’s in any movie wants to be nominated for Best Actor.
But that’s just a matter of buying some ads and the Academy
has to decide.
Starkey: But there is a distinction in an animated
movie there isn’t really an actor’s performance, it’s
a voice performance and then it’s an interpretation of it.
Hanks: Why are you arguing with me Steve? [laughs]
Starkey: I’m explaining to them that’s
there’s a real human performance…
Hanks: You’re looking at me like, 'what’s
the matter with you, you moron?' [Audience laughter]
Q. The film is very magical,
do you remember seeing any movies when you were younger that you
found very enchanting?
A. The Wizard of Oz. It was terrifying and enchanting
and heart warming all at the same time. It was a movie that was
a tradition in my household and was probably the one that affected
me most as a child.
Q. You’re already working on another film Mr. Starkey
that’s shot in a similar way. Is that true?
A: Yeah the boundaries of performance capture are already
expanded. The next big leap will be when photo real characters
can be created in the computer and they can stand side by side
with real actors. At that stage you can have any performer in
any role you wish with the likeness of anyone you wish. That’s
coming soon but no, there’s no boundaries at all.
Hanks: Peter Jackson is remaking King Kong right
now with the same actor who played Gollum, whose name is Andy
Serkis and I believe Andy Serkis is playing King Kong.
There’s an example of what you can do with this and again
the possibilities are endless but it’s always going to be
defined by the story you need to tell. No optical way of making
a movie or digitally rendering it is going to supersede the importance
of what the story is. It’s just going to be what is that
story and is it gonna be best rendered in this fashion as opposed
to as a standard movie.
Q. What does Christmas Spirit mean to you and do you
still believe in Santa?
A: I think it’s a time for reflection. You just need to
pause and gather together and reflect what you’ve been doing
and what you’ve been thinking and how you’re going
to move forward. So I think that it’s an important time
as I think people often act without reflecting and we need more
Q.It is interesting, Mr Starkey, that you were saying
earlier that Mr Hanks owns his own image rights and that you had
to return these files you shot to him...
A: I’ve said in the past that in the end you retain
the files of your own image, your own likeness.
Hanks: Which is the way it should be!
Zemeckis: Years from now, if the heirs of Tom’s
estate want to sell his image to say, a vacuum cleaner company
so that he could you know, dance with it or act with it or something
they’ll probably be able to take these files and do that
if they chose to. And they’ll probably be able to get some
other actor who’ll be able to interpret Tom as best that
he could but the image will look exactly like Tom looked say in
The Polar Express, or something like that.
Once you’re cyber scanned, that’s something you can
do right now. So I think what’s going to happen is that
everyone’s gonna have to figure out what they want to do
with this technology.
We were talking earlier about Steve McQueen being in a new Mustang
commercial. Well, that’s gonna be a cut and paste version
of taking his 2D images from probably Bullitt, or something, and
cutting them out basically and pasting him into new images where
he’ll fit in perfectly cos they don’t have 3D scans
of Steve McQueen to do it any other way.
And there’s going to be other ethical question at hat come
up to like taking images from a movie that a director directs
and using them as part of other movies. It’s going to be
like wonderful music that’s made now by sampling old records
and creating whole new songs around these samples that come out.
It’s all going to be part of the same mix, some of it will
be abused and some of it might actually be really very cool, it’s
just something that we can do now.
Q. On that mind boggling thought we’re nearly out
of time but can I just ask you that given that this book has obviously
meant so much to you through the years, how it feels to have made
something that other people will cherish and think of as part
of as the whole Christmas festivities?
A. I’m just excited that the illustrations in the book had
so much emotion that we were able to create a moving image of
those paintings for everybody to share. I think that was the highlight
of making the film for me.