Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
We haven’t known very much about Red Tails, the film that George Lucas has been producing about the WWII Tuskegee Airmen. The film was shot last year and has been in post, and there hasn’t been an image or a scrap of footage released to the public. The most significant info about the film comes from an AICN script review filed by the trusty Mr. Beaks, dated well before shooting began. Now there’s a report that Lucas isn’t happy with the footage shot last year and that he will direct “massive” reshoots to fix the film.
First Showing has the report on the reshoots, saying that along with the new footage will come an extensive rewrite that will extensively tweak characters and related plotlines. But the report is light on detail — they don’t know when the reshoots will happen, who will perform the rewrite or what sort of delay could befall the film as a result.
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. It was directed last year by Anthony Hemingway, whose primary experience is in television, on shows like The Wire and CSI.
If this report is correct and the footage is so unworkable that Lucas feels the need to extensively reshoot, what was going on during production? Did Lucas and Rick McCallum give Hemingway too much leeway? On the prequels, with Lucas directing, I can see how things went out of hand — he’s the boss, and evidently no one said ‘this isn’t working.’ But as a producer, did Lucas really not watch the dailies and see that something was amiss?
Or is it that Hemingway’s work isn’t the problem? Could he have done a fine job shooting the script as written and as the film is in post Lucas & Co. are realizing that it is too old-fashioned? AICN’s script review calls it “defiantly out of time” and an ensemble piece, suggesting that it doesn’t have the focus of a primary lead character. While praising the precise detailing of the air combat scenes, Beaks mentions “corny war films with stock characters.” FirstShowing’s report pegs Hemingway’s work as the issue, but I wonder if that’s actually the case.