Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Danny Boyle‘s Steve Jobs is my favorite movie of the year so far. I love so much about this film. I love how it’s a biopic without being a biopic. I love how it captures the truth and essence of a person, but probably 90% of the events and conversations in the movie never happened (or at very least, not at a keynote). I love Aaron Sorkin‘s intense dialogue and Michael Fasbender‘s performance — he may not look like Steve Jobs at the start of this movie, but by the end of the movie he transforms into the man.
Hit the jump to read my Danny Boyle Steve Jobs interview.
A couple weeks back I had the opportunity to get on the phone with director Danny Boyle. The filmmaker was in London doing the junket for the film, which means I had to conduct the interview hours before I normally wake up over the phone. I usually shy away from “phoners” because the connection is usually bad and both sides aren’t able to read the visual cues of a normal conversation, so the results are often stilted. But something just felt right about talking to Danny Boyle about Steve Jobs at 4am on my iPhone.
Part of it might be Danny Boyle’s demeanor. I feel like this man is so likable and can have a great conversation with anyone. He’s a filmmaker that consistently has great thoughtful answers and is willing to jump outside the publicity talking points. I wish I could have had more time with Danny to dissect this work in more depth, but I was able to talk to him about his choices for the look and feel of the film, the truth and fiction of his biopic, the previous adaptations based on Jobs’ life story, following in David Fincher’s footsteps, and a key moment in the first act of the film.
Danny Boyle Steve Jobs Interview
DANNY: Hello, Peter, it’s Danny.
PETER: Hey, Danny. Nice to talk to you again. I’d first like to ask you probably the most obvious question about the movie, about the three visual styles that you present in the film. How did that come about and can you talk a little bit about it?
DANNY: Yeah. The script is an extraordinary kind of like chunk. It’s like three, 185 pages of dialogue and it’s basically there’s no instruction manual. There’s no stage directions. It’s just like three acts, interior day continuous, that’s it, six characters. So you can kind of do, it’s sort of what are you gonna do? I mean, are you just gonna do it like a play? It wouldn’t work out. And so what we tried to do was to we obviously had these three periods essentially, and then so we tried to make those as dynamically different and various as possible. But also tell the story within each act. And hope that also we got a sense of forward motion and momentum and the differences. So the first one is a certain edge for the music and the shots are very narrow and we keep it feeling homemade. He did see himself as a pirate. And so it felt like that was an opportunity to work on 16 again. Bizarre working on it again. It’s not easy to work on it these days. ‘Cause not many places develop it anymore. But it gave a lovely homemade quality to it. Punkish almost. And the energy is across the world. I was thinking like Sex Pistols like… And then and the music is like early computer sounds and kind of odds yeah, like you somehow prepare it through that. And then you keep the edge and somehow using the illusion of world ’cause he’s got this what we call subterranean rigor of intention like right the way through it. It’s an opportunity to see Joanna’s trying to find out what it is. But he’s clearly on a ride.
And we filmed wonderful, 35 is it’s illusionary, especially to go in a theater that’s so ornate. The Bow Arts Theater in the opera house and it’s gold and red velvet. So we went with that illusion and 35 is beautiful for that. And then for the climax which of course is the arrival of digital, which of course in the film world is the Alexa. And it’s like you can see everything, man. I mean, there’s no place to hide now. And so we made it clean and elegant. Everything that he wanted his products to be. And yeah, so that’s a full dimension. And he’s right where he wants to be. Except there’s a big hole of course, which is a personal one. The products have worked, the career has reached… ‘Cause he did change the world. The iMac brought the Internet in everyone’s home. And he made that so cool, computers. And was just real daunting there really in that role really. And but there’s a big hole. It’s a personal one and it’s a flaw in him clearly that he has to move to, like we all do about what to do next. On a personal level. So that was it. That was it. The idea of it. Yeah. And the need to begin, and the need to be very over-the-top almost in a way at times. So even with it being ornate, big. And then actually back to much more clean and elegant.
PETER: Oh for sure. And I think a lot of people are concentrating on the three formats, but the visual styles and the music as you say is unmistakable. I was wondering with the digital side of things, did you ever consider shooting that on an iPhone?
DANNY: I think if we’d gone later, you would have got all into that world definitely. You know, if we’d gone later in the story. When he’s, ’cause obviously he hints at it the iPod, about the music.
PETER: Oh no, I’m not saying talk about the iPhone. I’m talking about like, did you ever consider shooting the digital side of things actually on an iPhone because some filmmakers have done so?
DANNY: What you mean shoot it on an iPhone?
DANNY: No, no, no. Yeah, listen, I mean, people are starting to shoot stuff on all sorts of things, aren’t they? No, we never did. We never did because we thought, because we thought what we did is design his dressing room. And a lot of space for the real dressing room in the Symphony Hall in the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. We actually redesigned it so it was like the inside of one of his products. And he believed the inside should be as beautiful as the outside even though you’d never see it. Elegance and simplicity and everything. So I guess we thought wanted to capture that being almost a kind of, not — brutal’s the wrong word, but like there’s nowhere to hide. It’s all visible. There’s no darkness anywhere. Everything is visible now. And so we wanted as high as resolution as possible. And although the iPhone’s now beginning to achieve that kind of resolution, it’ll be a little while before it catches up with the Alexa, which is 4K resolution. And it’s interesting, I mean, it’s a little teeny thing. We don’t really deal with Pixar, we hint in the film. But of course by the time of the iMac he already released Toy Story. Now and I remember seeing that and being knocked back in my seat about how clean it was. There wasn’t anything that looked like that before. And so we wanted to give that impression of exterior beauty, something so clear. Like a clear blue sky. That was the idea. Yeah.