Not too long ago there was word that Red Tails, the WWII movie produced by George Lucas and directed by The Wire‘s Anthony Hemingway, would be undergoing extensive reshoots. At the time, the report was that Lucas and producer Rick McCallum were quite unhappy with Hemingway’s material. That seemed dubious, though the idea of reshoots was certainly credible.
Not long after, Lucas said that the report was inaccurate, but didn’t deny it outright. Now there’s more information, and yes, Lucas is directing the reshoots, making Red Tails the first non-Star Wars film to bear his directorial touch in quite some time. (Possibly since American Graffiti, but one has to suspect that he has essentially directed at least small portions of other films he’s produced since then.)
Clarification on the issue comes from this week’s print edition of EW, transcribed by The Playlist. Basically, when the time came for reshoots, Hemingway was already at work on Treme, the new David Simon show set in New Orleans, or at least had a commitment to that show. So Lucas stepped in to direct the new and revamped footage.
Some questions remain from when this story initially cropped up. Yes, reshoots are very often budgeted into a film, especially one that is action and setpiece-heavy. But if that was the case, why wasn’t Hemingway penciled in to handle that duty? And do some of the concerns based on early drafts of the script persist? I.e., does the film need more structure, and does it still feel resolutely old-fashioned? And if so, could that be part of the reshoot plan — make the film feel more current? Or are we just reading too much into this? It’s possible.
John Ridley wrote the shooting draft of Red Tails, which has been a planned Lucas project for twenty years. Lucas conceived the film in the late ’80s but set it aside to make the Star Wars prequels.