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The Current War - Director's Cut with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Jonathan Mostow(Episode 223)


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Wherever you get your podcasts hello and thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Director's cut brought to you by the directors guild of America he trained today's top director sharing behind the scenes technology and ideas to determine whether direct current or alternating current would power the modern world in addition to the current directors cut Mr Gomez raccoons okay well congratulations Gomez raccoons spoke with director Jonathan Mostow about filming the current war director's cut listen on for their spoiler filled conversation sprawling historical film with a lot of like huge ideas and huge towering characters hung new biographical drama the current war director's cut the film reveals how Electricity Titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse engaged in a battle of two credits include the feature films me Earl and the dying girl and the town that dreaded sundown the pilot for the series red band society and episodes of the Television Series American Horror Story the Carrie diaries and glee following a recent screening of the film of the Dj Theater in Los Angeles? I think I'm GonNa Start with kind of the most sort with the title right so it's the current war colon the director will be supportive of of of of the movie of Me and and it came together quickly we knew score so you know so many new elements buying halfway through the story but it's it was it was it was a very long road to get here and it feels great to be able to finally screen my version of and so in after the company collapse it was it was just kind of shelved for a little bit until the studio found any homework the films at the so this film understand has been is sort of had road kinda get here and can you can you talk about that I may start crying means new score a great new David Trachtenberg is here is one of the editors or the editor the film and it just found shape it just needed it hadn't found his shape yet the the scenes were still I mean we're still working progress when we screened and onto defined by that was really hard but it feels great to finally be able to come here with this version and the reason and I wasn't happy with it and we rushed it exposed it and were reviewed and it was it was a hard period to be it's the power of one screening and social media and that defines you in defines the work that W- that wasn't yours it wasn't a complete vision yet the process of of of rushing to film festival the Toronto Film Festival a few years ago there were a lot of compromises with the film and starting fresh won't be a Pun with with that website so it you mentioned that you went back to London I hopefully we'll have time to go back to that stories or working through the same ideas that you're that you had a few years ago certainly when you started making the movie and there's certainly a lot of film although someone just pointed out and they were right how similar they are thematically it's an extension of the last certainly would tesla says the title is very simple rotten tomatoes is is a can make or break you and we were defined by Edison and Westinghouse and it wasn't my thing but this whole idea of of how far man would be remembered and this battle we your last film right so I'm curious like what drew you to this and how how did this how did this come about in your life got the cast together to get Again for Dave shooting in London a handful of scenes that I always wanted that we had come pre production and they were all one of my agents asked me to look at the script one more time that originally when I read it I only saw the top layer that which is it at a long history with the Weinstein Company and in the company of course collapsed in the film was in limbo for a bit but blowing grief with Edison in his am trying to defy nature constantly throughout and ego and humility We're just ideas that I was now thinking about and I liked reviews and by having new title that represented my vision it also allowed us to start fresh with a new page and hopefully if the and his wife died and he then preserve you know her disembodied voice in the box and then that didn't work and it's her as motion picture veteran understood why he would go to the dark side without her and I thought that was a journey I wanted to take but it was really kind of examining these two sides of myself I guess of the you had completed found in home and eventually made its way a few months ago two to one to one and got it back and able to re cut the film a around technology something I just started to think about with the light bulb comes the electric chair and and and interesting the whole film was shot in England which is kind of fascinating for such an American story this film is so different than but but what I liked about it was I'd gone through a few I almost made another movie after meaner all and and a celebrating creativity and invention in the last one did also in motion pictures basically the same film but it it it and but this one is it didn't work and then it's going to be a memory of which is motion picture at the end of Niagara Falls and I I understood him a little bit coach that doing something historic this with a huge historical character that hasn't been original structure but explored Mary a little further and kept her alive in the movie long after she's physically dead and fifteen years ago and now Sweden election what's going to happen in five years in it was just I thought it was in that in addition to being able to create a rock and roll Acre and maizels and concert footage and it was issued like a concert film I wanted to make sure it was clear that I was not going to be king speech or something very formal I wanted to be something that was in constant motion so all that made it a very exciting thing for me both of his filmmaker as a person Edison is had explored his second wife in the bigger house which made it into an eight hour film so we had to condense it and went back to his the end about all we leave behind our ideas is basically the end of me and earl and someone had to point it out to me but I guess you're operating some kind of subconscious level you're making the same you're telling me and had certain tempo to its I couldn't cover everything so we start collapsing characters two wives become one southward controversial character and depending on whose narrative you go he's a he's the villain of some stories of others so how did you how does your to create this from lightbulb to electric chair and that's the section of his life that we're going to explore we did work on drafts that on anything or as photograph taken and just the work to speak for itself and it was just ideas that I was thinking about that plus responsibilities in the ethics the birth control pill or the flushing toilet and then but now things are moving so fast that I don't know if we're capable of adapting facebook didn't exist represented that much in in films that that at least somewhere so can talk about that that process in that challenge evolved even in the making of the movie how technology and culture or come hand in hand in the evolve together whether it's the light bulb or he's a musical kinda musical bio-pic I always saw it as very musical film and when my first meetings with Harvey it was all Mary the power that Mary had over him that she could reset him in center him and without that how dark you would go without someone like Marguerite we use a kind of hopefully will be the at least I'm not being hurt by old reviews based on old versions of the film got it will hopefully penn both as as not necessarily counterpoint but counterpart so a much more nuanced than than the tidy overweight. Yeah and and but I think in in many ways I liked Edison as someone who the back coming up with solutions that are permanent and but then that is at odds with humility of Westinghouse and not even wanting his name and it was always hard to to collapse time and make it always wanted to make it always supposed to be a quick film facile humidity and as a filmmaker I guess you WanNa make films that will last and as an inventory of the you know the whole unkempt Schulman I like the idea of of of Edison thinks. AC's bet simply because it's not his idea love of Edison Edison yes Edison's is such a complicated character I I I have to start with Michael script he was able to he says you're you're just like me but you're human and then the other is when he's explaining that thrill of and but but the the last one is one of the most beautiful moments even to shoot because it was the only seen I had it was I think that's a hard thing to do is to capture sort of what is the emotional reality what makes what makes guys to start with Michael Script that that created that structure for me to play with and then how dark we'd go with Addison as long as we understood how he thought and and the for that last seen them as I liked you could hold the around is a combination of Alfred Southwick and Harold Brown just one name from the two men that inspired him and made one person and and and and so that created out of spontaneity created something impossible and then a demand followed officer you needed the phonograph and Westinghouse found a way to conceptualize about four for both Benetton Shannon what were their issues coming into the film and keep discuss the process of how you westinghouse that was a true partner to Westinghouse soap it did it we did the research we read his his diaries and a lot of sometimes dialogue comes straight out of it challenge of the script and and really released fine the voice because originally I think there was an instinct that was are certain the courtroom cases well to get a sense of what he was going to be like but it was more about capturing him and his relationship with the Westinghouse was making two movies one with benedict and then he left and then Shannon came in and shot his movie and they only share two scenes the courtroom scene and this episode takes us behind the scenes of Director Alfonso Gomez as an wrong to come in and play Edison Edison was mostly deaf and and the only recordings of him are when he's of getting the light bulb to work and how it starts is going and it's going for ten minutes it was going for twenty minutes and that that I thought really asked when the first one just like me but a human being I think is Edison at his lowest and maybe at his most vulnerable after being pushed out of his own company those inventions and but I think I think Edison saw him as an improver not an inventor there's two moments that I you wind up selecting for the film and how you worked with them and and What what issues came up no I mean I I had an opportunity can really when editing that scene was was was key I I could be working on that scene today because you can hold the whole scene on on benedict sustained like that tick what what gives them their drive and in those those two moments particularly like just thought were really effective in that way can talk about those I think I have more to say about the older and so the references made benedict made Edison sound too old and I wanted the film to be about these forty year olds changing the world weekly loved which leapt to hear thoughts on one is that that line really says to his kind of the remember the beautiful very human moment and it just felt like you know these two men in many ways very similar they were both tinkers since birth the railway air brake and he still is and you see his eyes sparkle as he's telling a story of something that he wasn't able to do and and that was just aside and had dinner at his house so this is kind of equalize them for a moment and these two actors which obviously is the next big thing again the phonograph developed concurrently but it makes you wonder what would have happened had had he just put ambition and Egos early C word to one another they barely and then as actors they barely interacted that just kind of kept their distance which I love that their processes always want to watch because Edison said he's been it was attached to the project when I came on and he was I was in London when he was in Shannon was on another film we did get a chance to rehearse can you run Shannon because they're doing such subtle nuanced work and Shannon is such a fan of Westinghouse's such a fan of Edison he always was it and have a youthfulness to it and so we decided to tone down the FBI is occasionally you'll see a little lean because it ages someone immediately so it was about keeping making those choices in crafting this version of of Edison that captured the spirit of him in of the time that's all it needed to address it a little nod we get it and then it's not about him it's as our interpretation of him or having to speak really loud how did you approach taking something historical and making it relevant to contemporary audience well I didn't I didn't temporary intimate you know youth oriented film so in in approaching something like this which is kind of a big thing and for Shannon very little rehearsal we talked about it at a bar in Brooklyn he came in late because movie that he was on was over take on what were your you mentioned already wanted to Kinda keep it moving and all that but what did you have a certain way and then he just got it we just worked little on a tempo and rhythm because my thing was that both men had to be in the same world and the same time awesome like how do they do what they do is you'll never know it's it's a mystery to me and to see Shannon who's so quiet because I was inner cutting to storylines and they had to have the same kind of American contemporary rhythm to their voices in and Michael and Katherine were great kind of Rock and roll couple did you go back and look at other historical films go well I don't want to I want to not repeat that or a here's something that really works for me or I mean how did you about the size of it I in fact the bigger the better I love filmmaking I love getting lost in the world and creating world that we could do I mean Chung Chung and then it had top benedict to Brits playing Americans they all had to feel like they were in the same movie in Yeah I guess so our editor American of but but most of the rest of the crew of from most of the heads of the department were were uh from Europe European in when I say it's very different than your last I mean this is historical epoch right film was was a very air from from Europe the E. U. K. so but that's how I got your Ross as a designer who I knew his work from the Peter in crew amazing what we had to recreate this world somewhere doesn't doesn't exist in Pittsburgh or New York really and as part of the tax break you do is foreseen and lamb chops ron and he had a new voice and you attitude posture everything changes the clothes may make you soon as he's a slipped into the close just it was magical I mean really I think I just love actress so much because I don't understand I think there's that Mike Nichols line they someone producers were American Michael Writer was

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