Interview with Laurent Bouzereau - DVD Producer on Minority Report
With thanks to Fox Home Entertainment's Press Agency we have the transcript for an interview with DVD Producer Laurent Bouzerau who has been putting the finishing touches to the December 2nd video and DVD release of Minority Report, for which you can find the release details here.
Following the interview is a Minority Report 'Fact File' that contains behind-the-scenes information and insights into the making of Spielberg's latest hit.
Interview with Laurent Bouzereau - DVD Producer
Q: You are in a very privileged position in being allowed on the set of a Steven Spielberg film from start to finish to produce the DVD. How did that happen?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: I was on A.I., which was the first time I had been brought on the set like that. I had been working with Steven for six or seven years - mainly documenting his older pictures, like Jaws and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Then on A.I. they said why don't we bring you in really early so that you can document the film, not only for the theatrical needs but also for the DVD. I have been documenting those older films and Steven has known me for a long time. There is a good relationship.
Q: Are you not almost playing the role of movie historian?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: That's a very kind description. I like to think of myself as one of those old fashioned librarians who would go looking through old books for the first edition. I would love to be a historian, I don't know if I am on my way yet. The essence of what I do is to try and capture the moments and document them to make sure that they are there to be referenced later on like an encyclopaedia. Steven is such a genius and I think to do this is really wonderful. It helps people appreciate everything that went into his work.
Q: How did you begin doing this kind of work?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: It has been kind of an interesting journey. I left France for America roughly twenty years with a suitcase and a dream. I worked in many areas of the film business as a publicist, I was an assistant on commercials, I did all sorts of odd jobs. I wrote articles for French publications and enjoyed that aspect of things. It was a good opportunity for me to meet my favorite filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese.
Then I did feature development for three or four years but got very disenchanted with the prospect of reading bad scripts for the rest of my life. Then laser discs were starting and I had written a book on Brian De Palma and I was approached by The Criterion Collection to do a commentary on the making of Carrie. That introduced me to this whole field. I didn't think it was a job, but a good hobby. So while I had my job I contributed to several laser discs. Then I was asked to work on a laser disc restoration of Steven Spielberg's 1941 and to do interviews with everybody from the film. I did that - and stayed on.
Q: What have been your most exciting moments in doing this work with a genius like Steven Spielberg?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: The thing that's fun is to see how enthusiastic he gets when you talk to him about films and his work. That to me is really exciting to have this great enthusiasm from him and that he realizes the value of what we are trying to do with the DVD. The most exciting moment is when you are doling an interview and you can see that you have triggered a great memory and can't wait to tell you the story. In a sense you are really trying to get a performance when you do the interview. There is a skill in trying to get this performance. Where hopefully I think I have succeeded is because I do a lot of research and if I am talking about an older film like Jaws, because I have just researched it I might trigger a memory and he might say, "oh my God I don't believe you remember that" but you don't know half of it. And then you are on a great path. With Minority Report I was there on the set and could say, "do you remember that day when Tom did this" and Steven might say, "that was so hilarious". So we have a dialogue because we have had similar experiences since I was one of the witnesses there during filming. That's what really excites me when I see the enthusiasm of people - especially Steven - really mounting.
Q: So far Steven Spielberg has not done any commentary on the DVD's of his movies, why is that?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: That's correct. I don't want to speak for him but I will say what I think. I have done this type of documentary for several film makers of his generation and most of them don't want to do commentaries. One of the main reasons is that is very difficult to distance yourself from something you have just done and comment on it. If I was a filmmaker I could not do it. I would rather do a documentary because that is somewhat removed. That is my personal take. In terms of Steven he takes such care in designing a soundtrack and the music and dialogue. His movie is meant to be experienced one way with music, dialogue and sound effects and if you add another track, which is actually a greater distract - someone making comments even though it is the film maker - it diminishes the experience you have been trying so hard to get. People like Steven are film purists and for them to touch something that has been designed one way is almost counter productive to what you were trying to do in the first place. Again I am only speaking for myself here, not quoting Steven.
Q: Why are we so obsessed with DVD?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: That's a very good question because I have no idea. It's a strange thing because when I was working on laser discs I was convinced it was going to die - and I was right. Those things were prehistoric. Then when DVD started I thought there was no way people would want to watch behind the scenes - and I was completely wrong. Like many I underestimated people's fascination with technology and film making itself. A huge portion of the population love to see behind the scenes with a huge star like Tom Cruise and to get some idea of what it might be like to be with them on the set. There is also a very large portion who are fascinated with the story and the making of the story. Another thing that has happened is that the world is horrible out there and people more and more want to stay at home and experience the movies on their home system. That is why DVD has caught on so much - because of all those factors. I think DVD is the biggest revolution in technology since even the CD was invented. The appeal of DVD is that you get so much on such a small disc and they are fairly cheap. And people do like to collect.
Q: How did you start on Minority Report?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: I just showed up on the set when they told me to. Actually they gave me the script and some very elaborate drawings, so I could embrace the world of Minority Report even before I got on to the set. I could be there whenever I wanted but you want to maximize your visits on the set. For instance if they are doing an extreme close-up on someone then there is no room for you to be there. It's just too tight and you would be in the way. So you choose days that will allow you to have great footage. Then you film as much as possible and do your interviews between shots. Everyone involved in the film is so generous because they are all so busy.
Q: What was working with Tom Cruise like?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: The thing about Tom Cruise is that he is the all-time pro. He does all of his stunts. He will be on one set doing intense moments for the movie, then at 6pm he has to go to another set and he's hanging on a harness, of doing stunts in cars. He gets it on the first take, everyone applauds and then he takes off again. I don't know how he does it. He is a professional but also a very kind person. He treats people really well and with a lot of respect for everybody's craft and their roles. Meeting him was great. What I liked about interviewing him was that we are from the same generation - so we grew up with the same passions for Jaws and ET. Now he is working with Steven Spielberg, the man he worshipped when he was a teenager and saw Jaws. It was fun when he talked about seeing Jaws for the first time and the head came out of the boat - I could relate to that.
Q: Finally, how much footage did you shoot for the Minority Report DVD?
LAURENT BOUZEREAU: How many hours? I have no idea. I had hundreds of tapes. But as I get a tape it is immediately logged in the computer so that the best stuff is easily accessed.
* THE THINK TANK
Steven Spielberg set up a Think Tank to create the future world of Minority Report. "I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of the best minds in technology, environment, crime fighting, medicine, health, social services, transportation, computer technology and other fields into one room to discuss what the future a half century hence would be like," says Spielberg. So he gathered together scientists from MIT like John Underkoffler, Generation X author Douglas Coupland, and urban planners, architects and inventors. The Think tank met for three days at a hotel in Santa Monica, California. Under discussion were the trends and changes that might occur within society. The Think Tank considered all sorts of matters, like how we might brush our teeth in 50 years time to the style of architecture and how people might travel. Generation X author Douglas Coupland came up with several suggestions, including the sick stick - a weapon that causes involuntary vomiting, and cats engineered to grow to the same size as dogs.
Tradition fuels, petrol or gasoline, are replaced by a traffic system that uses Magnetic-Levitation. This is a three dimensional system based on magnetism in which the vehicles can go horizontally or vertically, spin or turn. For the vehicles that were used this Mag-Lev system in Minority Report the film makers were assisted by Lexus and car designer Harald Belker who had worked on vehicles for Armageddon and Batman And Robin.
For the uniforms of the Pre-crime officers, costume designer Deborah Scott's reference was astronauts and American Air force pilots. The idea behind that was to make the law men look heroic. The murders in the Hall Of Containment were fitted with costumes that were loosely based on NASA cooling suits. For Samantha Morton, Scott designed a special wet suit that protected the actress from the water in which the Pre-Cogs float, but still gave her a sense of vulnerability.
Stunt co-ordinator Brian Smrz worked with production designer Alex McDowell to make a rig that made it possible for several actors to be seen flying through the air at the same time. This was created on a 400 foot long, 50 foot high set at the Warner Bros. Lot in Burbank, California. The flying rig was set up 30 feet above this huge set. Then a mile and a half of cable was used in order for the flying stunts to be carried out. It took two or three people working on the special apparatus to make one actor fly.
* VISUAL EFFECTS
In the course of Minority Report there are 481 visual effects shots. Most of these shots were done by Industrial Light & Magic and the most complex involved the Mag-Lev traffic system in 21st century Washington DC. The only non-synthetic element of that shot was Tom Cruise. His jump from one Mag-Lev car to another was done against blue screen.
* WASHINGTON DC
Aerial background plates were shot of Washington DC and these were then augmented with the visions of the 21st century version of the city.
The noises made by the mechanical spiders that are used to track down fugitives were created by several methods. The spider screech came from unspooling tape from a dispenser and dental floss from a roll. The sound of the mechanical spiders' feet was made from recordings of jumping spiders, which make a sound that is inaudible to the human ear.
* THE HALL OF CONTAINMENT
This building, a 21st century jail where Pre-Crime prisoners are held in suspended animation, was based on a Pentopticon, a 19th century prison which has a central tower surrounded by containment pods.