Alex Garland Interview
Alex Garland Interview
There’ll be some shots, for example at one point there’s a mind reading bit where Kay, Anderson’s prisoner, deliberately freaks her out by flashing an image into her head of a kind of strongly implied sexual violence, right? So that image was never shot for that moment, there was nothing shot for that moment. It was all going to be played on her face and her reaction. But something else from an earlier part of the film, from a previous attempt to do something in a different scene could be cut and placed there and suddenly a shot that was on the floor now has quite a useful, powerful role within the film. It was like that. A lot of the sweat was about re-using this… It’s like a kind of eco film, don’t chuck anything away. It was really like that.

Flop shots, flop shots played backwards, sorry, making someone shut a door, actually they’re opening a door in the original shot, but we find a way of constructing a new little scene where the paramedic is locking himself into his room by reversing the shot where he opens the door, and now it looks like he’s shutting it in an anxious way in response to Ma-Ma’s thug, right? It was actually quite good fun, figuring out that stuff, terrifying at the same time.
So why was there so little spare?

Alex Garland

That’s a good question. A complicated question. Some of the flexibility within the main shoot got eaten up by some quick decisions that were made on set to shoot some new material. So that new material was effectively taking the place of some stuff that had been shot earlier that we weren’t quite happy with. And so we used some of our extra give in principal photography, I guess you’d say.

But the real problem was that the script was too lean in some respects and I think maybe because I’d spent so many years writing it, too much of the fat had gone, and actually you really want to over-shoot so when you’re in the edit you have the freedom that we were talking about. It’s like it had got too honed. And of course, we were trying to make like a $60m film for 35 or whatever it was supposed to be. So we were always saying, ‘Do you really need that scene? Do you really need that scene? Okay, no, let’s cut it.’ And so I guess that’s the reason.
Given that the character is not well known internationally, do you think that the movie might not be a big hit in other countries outside of the UK?

Alex Garland

Oh God, I don’t know. I mean, yeah, it might not. Maybe it will. I don’t know. (Laughs) I’ll find out in a few weeks. I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never, ever, ever been able to accurately predict box office of any film. I’ll sort of think, ‘Oh I bet that makes around this’, and then it’s totally wrong. I’ve just given up trying to guess.
When you took this project in the first place, did you think about that? Were you are afraid that maybe it wouldn’t be a hit in America or other countries?

Alex Garland

No. Because if you thought about the reasons not to make something, I can promise you, you would be paralyzed. You just wouldn’t get out of the gate. There are far more reasons not to do it, always, than to do it. Always.
What’s your favourite scene in the film?

Alex Garland

Slo-Mo. Slo-Mo is my favourite. It was the hardest thing to get right. We started pre-vis-ing that while we were shooting Never Let Me Go, a long way back we were trying to figure that out. John Thum, the effects supervisor and I were trying to figure out: can you stack all these slow shots right up next to each other? How long can you stretch that before it breaks? And we were working on it until the closing minutes of the grade, at the very, very end of post-production.

Changing the colours, over-saturating, pulling it out, adding a big fat vignette all around it, taking the vignette off, making it a bright vignette, I mean, it was right; it was the first thing we started on and it was the last thing we ended on. They are my favourite moments, some of those drugs slo-mo moments.
If you were going to title the comic of the movie, would you call it Slo-Mo?

Alex Garland

What, you mean if it was a comic adaptation? I’d call it Peach Trees, for sentimental reasons, because that’s where I first met John Wagner, it was in a café called Peach Trees. Then we called the working title of the film Peach Trees. The tower block it all happens in is called Peach Trees, so I’d call the comic Peach Trees.
Have you had a discussion about a sequel and would you sign up for it and so forth?

Alex Garland

There’s an awful lot of variables in that. But if there was a sequel, I’ve got ideas for it, but I can’t tell you, as in I can’t tell you how much there would be to figure out before you even got to that stage. And it needs to hit a level of box office that 18 certificate and R rated films tend not to reach.
It's up against it?

Alex Garland

It really is, in a huge way. It’s got a stacked deck, slightly.
Let’s assume, for arguments sake, there is a sequel. You’ve already talked about what you would like to do in the grand scheme of things, things like Judge Death and the third film and things like that. What about some of the humour? What about some of the elements like Walter the Wobot and Maria the Landlady?

Alex Garland

Yeah, sure. I’m not well suited. It’s also a broader question because a lot of Dredd over the years has been overtly comic satire, deliberately, aiming to make you laugh, as it were. It’s not me. You could do that, I have no doubt you could make that film and it would function as a film, but I’m not the right guy to be involved in that film. I’d be happy to see it, but I can’t imagine doing it. It wouldn’t be Walter that I’d put in, it’d be Chopper. If you, tonally get the…
So not within your Dredd universe then?

Alex Garland

It’s not my Dredd universe. I was very careful, even if we couldn’t do stuff the same as the comic, I always wanted it to belong. That’s why John was involved, was to make sure that Dredd was Dredd.
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Content updated: 19/10/2019 16:27

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