Blade Runner 2049 trailer breakdown 22

Of course, I have to ask about your work with Roger Deakins. What were some of the earliest ideas you two had for the film?

The thing is that I need to say that I brought Roger on board day one. I said yes in the morning I met him at the dinner at his home at night, and I asked him right away, “Will you join me?” and he said, “Yes” with a smile right away. I knew he was dreaming to do science-fiction, to go back to science-fiction, and he was very excited right from the start. He came to Montreal and we spent several weeks together in the hotel room. Not a few months but several weeks together with storyboard artists where we drew the whole movie. You know when you storyboard, you basically rewrite the movie when you storyboard. You approach a scene and the visual, it’s like a musician; you see the partition and there’s a different way to interpret and it’s the same thing with the camerawork.

Basically, we wrote a lot of scenes by storyboarding them – it’s always the same that way – and we design the world together. We figure out what would be the laws, the sociological laws, the geopolitics, the climate laws, everything. There was a lot of ins in the screenplay but there were holes. The screenplay was of course, like any screenplay, filled with holes, and we needed to fill that. So I did a lot of work with him. I brought my ideas, we did research together, visual research together and we came with a ton of ideas, and Dennis Gassner, a production designer, came to Montreal too and we did all this work together. That was the foundation of the movie those working sessions with Roger.

What did the visual research involve? How did the characters influence some of the choices with light you two made?

I will say that it was about quality of light. I wanted the movie to have that kind of silver-like light quality of the winters that I know. To bring winter light for me was a way to bring something very intimate that I know very well into a universe that was not mine at the beginning, and how to invade Ridley’s vision. I needed something very intimate and that was the quality of light, the winter light, and the writer responded to that strongly. Then you make research about different photographs that Roger took some, from photographers, like nothing specific, more like a very specific example of a type of light and colors; a lot of research on colors, on different type of atmosphere.

I will say that there was exploration for each character, what the light environment will be for each of them, like K’s apartment was how to bring kind of a harsh, kind of neon light, kind of harsh light that is brutal and not kind for the eyes. Niander Wallace will have built a temple where he will control his own sunlight. Being blind, the light is more of a sensation, so doesn’t need to lit the space. It’s more like patterns that he will play with. There were all these laws. There was a long process of exchange with Roger. After that he helped me to protect this dream, going through the process of working with thousands of people.

It’s strange, before I had the impression to direct, be a conductor in front of a little chamber orchestra of 12 people, and then I was in front of symphony orchestra. How to make each instrument with the right tune, you know? This was the biggest challenge – how to keep the dream intact. My respect for the directors like Ridley Scott just increased. How they are able to communicate their visions and staying in tact until the end. It’s not easy to do, that was really difficult.

blade runner 2049 images

The opening shot connects to the original film’s opening. Were there any other shots you and Roger Deakins wanted to reference?

There’s a lot of them. I would say just as an example, Ryan’s character’s silhouette, there was something in the silhouette of the Blade Runner it was difficult to imagine up that you’re having a different silhouette than Rick Deckard. I was looking for a silhouette that will be a reminiscence of Rick Deckard and something that will also look like, for specific reason, like the vampire Norsferatu that comes into the fog. That was a reference. There was a lot of reference from a technology point of view, the shape of the spinners have evolved through to time but still they were a bit similar.

The architecture was inspired by the first movie that I used Syd Mead, the concept artist, who did the original movie and worked on some specific elements on this movie. There’s a lot of little tiny references everywhere. The brand that argues was something that struck me when I saw the first movie, because the first time I was seeing a movie where 2001: A Space Odyssey had done it a little bit, but in Blade Runner, you had all that, Budweiser, Atari, all those present, and for me, it was very important to keep that alive, this link with reality. Because we were in the alternate universe, it gave me the possibility to use brands that were alive when they did the first movie, but like, Pan Am doesn’t exist anymore, but I love the idea that it’s present. So I made sure that with those companies were still alive in the movie today.


Blade Runner 2049 opens in theaters on October 6.

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