Joseph  Kosinski

While at Comic-Con, I had a chance to interview director Joseph Kosinski about the highly anticipated 3D sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy. I talked with Joe about his recent transition from commercials to feature films, creating the biggest surprise in Comic-Con history, screening Tron Legacy for David Fincher, light jets and other tron vehicles we’ve yet to see in the trailers, the incredible viral marketing campaign for the film, and his next project, which might possibly be Oblivion.

Joe: What is that funky app?

Peter: Just a recorder iPhone app.

Joe: OK, it’s cool.

Peter: I am also going to record video if that’s OK with you. Is it OK?

Joe: Uhh….

Peter: OK, no. That’s fine.

Joe: I hate the handycam stuff. It’s just so odd. I like static compositions, you know? Get a tripod!

Peter: Knowing you’re cinematic style, that seems so you…

Joe: Yeah.

Joe: Did you get into Hall H yesterday?

Peter: Yeah.

Joe: Good. Did you like what you saw?

Peter: Yeah.

Peter: I’ve been a big fan of your work ever since your commercials.

Joe: Thank you.

Peter: I’m glad to finally see some commercial directors actually…you know, you and Carl Rinsch. Finally, Hollywood has found you.

Joe: David Fincher, Ridley Scott, the guys I really look up to came from the world of commercials. It’s a great training ground, I think.

Peter: Can you talk a little bit about the transition from commercials to feature making?

Joe: Sure. It’s the same job. It ultimately comes down to having good ideas and fighting for your vision. I’ve been lucky in this movie that Disney has been really supportive from the very beginning. Got a great producer in Sean Bailey. I think the way that this movie came about was very unique in that it started with me kind of creating a commercial for a movie that didn’t exist. Creating that V-effects test was kind of my approach and the way of kind of convincing…at least explain to the studio kind of the tone of the world, a hint of the narrative that interested me, and doing it in a way that…I told them, I said I will do this thing, and we can use it as marketing for the film. I think they thought I was crazy. Like you would ever use a piece of test footage to market your movie. But Sean and I convinced them to show it at Comic-Con two years ago. And obviously, the reaction from that is a big reason why I think the movie is…

Peter: I think that will go down as one of the biggest surprises in Comic-Con history.

Joe: Yeah, I think every year…Someone is going to have to try something like that in the future. That’s the tough thing about the world we live in today. It’s so hard to surprise people, because everyone knows everything about everything. And people hunt out information and then complain that they’ve been spoiled. It’s a tricky thing. It’s like as a director, you end up creating something and then trying to, like, hold onto it so people don’t…you know. Trying to preserve that theatrical experience, which I think is really important.

Peter: We’ve heard talk of the screening that was held in LA with some directors, and Fincher, and some other people.

Joe: No, it wasn’t the screening. Fincher, it was just me and him in the theater alone. And we went out and had drinks and steaks afterwards and talked about it for a couple hours.

Peter: What did he think of the movie?

Joe: You know, I don’t want to endorse…I don’t want to give David Fincher’s endorsement, or unendorsement of the movie. I showed him a very, very rough cut. You know, no visual effects. And he’s a guy who comes from that world and could understand what he was looking at. And, you know, for me it’s about…I will seek out the opinions of people whose work I admire. And David Fincher is one of those people. And the guys down at Pixar is another example of showing a version of a movie that’s very hard to watch when it’s unfinished, and people who are used to seeing it and people who are great storytellers. And listening to the notes helped me. It’s my job as a director to decide which ones to take and which ones to ignore. But it’s a great opportunity I had to show it to people I admire.

Peter: In the trailer and in the footage, we see a new vehicle. It takes off into the air. Maybe it’s a light jet. I don’t know. What can you tell us about this new vehicle?

Joe: Well, you know, I think part of my job in this movie is to take the iconic elements of the first film and evolve them. But it’s also I gotta bring something new to the table. So we’ve got some new vehicles, and you’ve seen little hints of them in the trailer. But again, it’s one of those things where, you know, it’s that fine line. I want to give you a taste but I don’t want to spoil it.

Peter: Are there any other new vehicles we haven’t seen? It can be a yes or no question.

Joe: Yes.

Peter: OK.

[laughter]

Peter: Very cool. I wanted to ask, in the video games we see this, like, hardcore running on the walls type action. When I was on set, obviously I saw some action. I didn’t see that. I was wondering, is that going to be part of the movie?

Joe: Yeah. We had an amazing stunt team. It’s called Loop Kicking, or I don’t know what the exact precise name is. But we incorporated into the disc game and some other aspects. Some certain characters are better at it than others. So yeah, absolutely, that’s an element of our film.

Peter: Cool. After TRON, you have so many projects in the works. You have Oblivion, you have Black Hole, you have the new Ridley Scott…

Joe: Archangel.

Peter: What’s next for you?

Joe: I don’t know. Right now the focus is 100% on finishing TRON: Legacy and making the best movie I can. You’ve got to have a couple balls in the air as a director. You’ve got to have multiple projects in development. You’ve got to see which one is going to give you that script that tickles that creative bone and makes you want to dive in for two or three years on another project.

So once we get TRON out, I’ll sit back and a little relaxation time, a little sleep, little time with the family and then see what the next thing might be.

Peter: Well very cool. I hope you can get Oblivion off the ground.

Joe: I’m really excited about it. We’re giving out a preview issue tomorrow at the Radical booth. We printed 15,000 copies of it. I’m really excited about it. It’s one I kind of created from the ground up, so there is a certain personal satisfaction in something like that. But we’ll see.

Peter: It seems after this Disney should let you do one of yours, you know?

Joe: Please, go talk to Sean Bailey about that.

Peter: [laughs] Last question. I was on the set for the End of Line Club.

Joe: Yeah, you’re back.

Peter: And we’re back, yeah.

Joe: Half scale, not quite the same.

Peter: Yeah, it’s a little smaller.

Joe: I thought they did a nice job reproducing it.

Peter: Can you talk a little bit about the viral campaign for TRON? I think it’s been amazing.

Joe: You know, it’s a great way to engage with the fans directly. It’s a great way to fill out the mythology of the world. There’s so many stories, so many characters that surround our movie. It’s a great way to build awareness and get the word out. I’ve had fun just going to a couple of the events—the party here last night, the thing in San Francisco. You know, the TRON fans, the enthusiasm they have is just…it’s astounding to me. And it’s a real fun, real world aspect to the movie, so it’s been fun.

Peter: OK. Well, thank you very much.

Joe: Thanks, man.

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