Peyton Reed Ant-Man interview

A couple weeks ago I got a chance to sit down with director Peyton Reed and talk about his new film Ant-Man. I’ve been a fan of Reed for a while now, from his fun 2000 comedy Bring It On (which was basically Pitch Perfect with Cheerleading) to his work within the Back to the Future franchise (he was involved in the Universal Studios ride, the animated series, and even directed the behind the scenes documentaries for the sequels). Here are some of the things I talked to Peyton Reed about:

  • His first attempt trying to direct a Marvel film in 2003 with a Fantastic Four adaptation that never happened
  • Ant-Man looks like it has the most VFX shots out of any of the Marvel films, But it does’t
  • How they made the microscopic scenes so photorealistic
  • What he believes he brought to the movie that wasn’t in Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish‘s draft
  • Why other Marvel characters were added to the story (possible spoiler warning, although its shown in tv commercials and trailers)
  • How Peyton ended up doing voice work on episodes of Beavis and Butthead
  • Will he be involved in any of the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary festivities
  • How Did Marty McFly influence Ant-Man

You can read about all of that and much more in my Peyton Reed Ant-Man interview, after the jump.

Peyton Reed Ant-Man Interview

Bring It On

PETER: A big fan of Bring It On.

PEYTON: Oh thank you very much. It’s kind of a superhero movie, right?

PETER: Well you know what, I think–

PEYTON: They do have costumes.

PETER: Yeah, they do. I think some of my readers might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the first time that you’ve been attached to a Marvel movie.

PEYTON: Right.

Fantastic Four

PETER: Can you talk about that?

PEYTON: Yeah. In 2003, I was finishing my movie, Down With Love, my second movie at Fox. And they announced they were gonna make a Fantastic Four movie. And I was a Marvel Comics obsessive as a kid. Fantastic Four to me was always sort of the crown jewel of the Marvel Comics world. And so I went in. And I pitched the movie. And here’s how nerdy I was. I took all four of my Mego eight inch Fantastic Four action figures into this meeting with Tom Rothman. And I think at the time Avi Arad. And I think, I know Kevin Feige was involved at the time. I don’t know if he was in the Fox meeting. But I took them in as a symbol of my nerd cred. But I just, I talked about everything I loved about Fantastic Four. I got the job and developed that movie there for the better part of a year. And I worked with I think two or three different writers at the time. It became apparent to me that I think Fox did not wanna make the kind of Fantastic Four movie I wanted to make at the time. And Marvel at Fox at that time was radically different than Marvel Studios is in 2015. It was the entire landscape has changed. So it was something that was very, very hard to–

PETER: What did they want? They wanted more accessible, you wanted more comic looking or?

PEYTON: Well, you know, they were chasing a release date and, you know, we were developing the movie. They wouldn’t release the money for effects R and D, because I said, whatever version of the movie you have is gonna have a Human Torch, a Thing and a… And it just became obvious that they at that time in my opinion were not gonna treat it like the A list property that it was.

Ant-Man ant still

PETER: You talked about special effects. And I feel like watching this movie it looks like it has the most visual effects or C.G. out of any of the Marvel movies so far. Is that the case?

PEYTON: Yeah, it’s interesting, I think if you do a number count in Ant-Man there are probably between 15 and 1600 visual effects movies. I think in Age of Ultron there were like somewhere between 22 and 2400. Like far more, significantly more effects. But I think the effects in Ant-Man, you know, because they are, they tend to be longer shots. Like when Scott first shrinks in the bathtub, you know, the camera follows him down and goes down and the challenge in these specific types of effects for me was they have to be photorealistic. If we’re doing a shrinking movie in the year 2015, we have to set the bar. And it’s gotta be photorealistic and we gotta really put the audience down there with Scott Lang when he’s shrinking.


PETER: How do you make it photorealistic then?

PEYTON: Well I’ll tell you we did a weird combination of motion picture macro photography, which meant, you know, shooting surfaces and miniature sets with these insane lenses. Shooting still macro photography. Where like if there was a scene where Ant-Man was gonna run across the table and leap over my iPhone, we would have a crew shoot this with stills, like thousands of stills. So that we would have a very tactile photo real version of it. But we could recreate it digitally and be able to move the camera around that environment. So we put Paul and Corey in motion capture suits and shot them or captured them digitally and put them in. And then we did lots of actual photography tests in prep. We shot real ants just to see how they moved and how they reacted to light. And we would shoot things like dust and explosions at high speed to see how that would play out. And water. What does water move like?

Ant-Man water in bath tub

PETER: That sequence with the water is amazing.

PEYTON: Yeah. And we did all these things where we shot with actual lenses, real water going down pipes. And then we sort of, you know, we sent that to the visual effects houses and had them recreate it. There’s a brief moment where Scott is feeding water to Antony his ant, you know, and it’s a ball of water.

PETER: Yeah.

PEYTON: ‘Cause that’s what that size the surface tension of water is like. And those are the things that fascinated me. Like the physics of that world and the light, how light played.

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