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The Dark Knight BD-Live Screening

Last night I got the exciting opportunity to participate in the Warner Brothers’ BD-Live screening of The Dark Knight with director Christopher Nolan.  I really did not know what to expect.  I was just ecstatic to be one of the lucky ones selected to be part of this once in a lifetime film screening.  I am not shy in admitting that The Dark Knight was my favorite movie of 2008.  The film and its amazing levels of depth really took me by surprise.  In fact, it now possesses a cozy spot on my mantle, within my top 10 list of all-time movie favorites. 

 

I started to camp out on my viewing couch around 8:30 PM EST.  The screening did not start until 9 PM EST (6 PM PST).  I have been eager with anticipation of this event for over a week now, as nothing was going to deny me from joining the live screening and chat.  That is why I signed in a bit early, as I wanted to be prepared in case I encountered any network problems.  I am pleased to report the experience of joining the Warner Brothers’ BD-Live event was trouble free.  At promptly 9 PM, my time, the event started as planned.  There were some minor disconnect errors that Christopher Nolan experienced on his side, but once that was settled everything went on without a hitch, with the exception of two bathroom breaks director Christopher Nolan had to pause the screening for.  He can do that…he’s the boss.  The viewing audience was just happy to have the experience of chatting live with the now infamous director.  There was even a marriage proposal that took place.  For the most part, all of the questions were pretty intellectual and Christopher Nolan filled us in on a lot of behind the scenes information you could not have gotten anywhere else.  All in all, it was truly an experience of a lifetime…just like I expected it to be.

 

Below, please find a summarized transcript of answers given by director Christopher Nolan during last night’s live screening of The Dark Knight, available only to select lucky Blu-ray owners.  I tried my best to type up as many of his responses as I possibly could.  Obviously, if you attended the event, you will see a small amount missing.  Every answer of substance I tried to capture the best I could.  I do not possess the fastest or most accurate typing skills so I spent some time editing all of my gibberish.  If you are as obsessive of everything revolving around The Dark Knight as I am then I hope you find the below summary of answers to be very informing.   The below list of Christopher Nolan answers are in the order as they happened during the live screening.  If events like this do not give you a reason to run out and buy a Blu-ray player right now, then I don’t know what would.  You can’t do these kinds of things with DVD’s.  If you are further interested and want to read my Blu-ray review of The Dark Knight please feel to check it out over at Into The Blu.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

When asked what Christopher Nolan thought of as the perfect bank robbery he said they came up with the perfect bank robbery by introducing the Joker.

 

IMAX was used because it is the highest quality of moving picture image and would be perfect way to introduce our Joker.

 

He wanted to shoot as many real locations in Chicago as possible to root the film in reality.

 

Lindy Hemming, the costume designer, created the unique look of the Joker’s thug masks and the idea of them being clowns just felt right with them working for the Joker.

 

When asked why he did not use IMAX for the whole movie Chris said that IMAX cameras are very loud and difficult for the actor’s to perform in front of.  Another answer given was the fact that IMAX is also very expensive.

 

When asked why a school bus was used to crash through the bank walls Chris said he wanted a surprising and clever exit to represent the wit of Joker

 

Chris took great care in shooting, not to use explicit gore, to achieve the PG-13 rating.

 

We thought it was a fun way to reintroduce Batman in action by revisiting the fate of Scarecrow.

 

We try to keep the smaller characters, like the mob, as realistic as possible.

 

There were 5 Batmobiles built for the production of The Dark Knight.

 

When asked how Christopher Nolan felt about the overwhelming success of The Dark Knight he answered by saying they all have all been incredibly thrilled, but surprised by the incredible response to the film

 

When asked why there is no Batcave in the film he responded by saying that Wayne Manor has not been rebuilt yet and he wanted to introduce Bruce Wayne in downtown Gotham, like in some of the 70’s Batman comics.

 

Chris hired Aaron Eckhart to play Harvey Dent because the first time he met him, during the filming of Memento, he knew he always wanted the opportunity to work with him.

 

Working with great actors makes the job of directing considerably easier.

 

We always felt that Harvey Dent would provide the emotional backbone of the story for TDK.  Chris claims that Harvey Dent was always in TDK script, unlike rumors that speculated he was suppose to be the villain in the third movie.

 

The opening courtroom scene is intended as a nod to the fans of the comics familiar with the origin of Harvey Dent

 

Chris admits that it was a rare instance for him as he wrote the role of Lucious Fox with Morgan Freeman in mind, only.

 

When asked why is Wayne Tower different from what it looked like in Batman Begins, Chris answered that he wanted to inject modernism into the film and would show that things have changed since Lucious Fox has taken over the company.

 

The final film is very close to the shooting script, as he tries to weed as much out on paper as possible.

 

Heath’s performance exceeded even Christopher’s high expectations of what he would do with the character.

 

Heath improvised a lot and the physical gestures he performed were not from the shooting script.

 

Chris uses screenwriting software to write the scripts he produces.

 

When asked how life is on the set he said it is very enjoyable, especially benefiting from having a great bunch of people around.

 

When asked how many angles he used to shoot each scene he said it varies from scene to scene, depending on the particular scene in question as to whether he would use 1 or 2 cameras.

 

TDK was shot in the cities of London, Chicago and Hong Kong.

 

When asked why there was no back-story for the Joker he said it was important that the Joker had no definitive origin in the film.  To keep him in character they suggested multiple origins in the film.

 

The Joker costume evolved slowly over time and they worked in conjunction with Heath’s characterization.

 

Chris chose to have Batman go to Hong Kong because he loved the idea of seeing Batman, the iconic character, someplace new.  Chris also wrote some of the script while visiting there.

 

When asked if he kept any props from the film he said he kept a slate of film as a memento and kept several of the clown masks.

 

Chris chose knives as weapons for the Joker because they felt like the most sinister weapon and as described in the film, the intimacy of using them while killing.

 

Its very challenging to film in Hong Kong because of the large effort of people needed.  He said the architecture there is very cinematic.

 

Christian Bale is really standing on ledge of that Hong Kong building, but a stuntman and a green screen was used for the action of flight.

 

Christopher wanted to use realistic technology like the Skyhook and Batmobile, over comic book type technology to ground things in reality as much as possible

 

The sticky bomb gun is not based on actual hardware, but Chris tried to imagine a device that would be credible. 

 

Chris said it was an end result of years of research and millions of dollars when stated that is was great to finally see a superhero being able to turn his head.

 

Chris said the scene he enjoyed shooting the most was the interrogation scene between the Joker and the Batman.  The most technically difficult scene to film was the car chase.

 

The ending of the film was always the most important sequence.

 

When the Joker was shown filming hand held video camera footage that was all shot by Heath Ledger himself.

 

The Batman comics that Chris enjoyed the most were Batman Year 1 and The Long Halloween.

 

When asked if he considered making the Joker more humorous and less psychopathic he responded by saying that Heath and him knew the Joker needed to be different than Jack Nicholson’s iconic performance.

 

The Godfather films influenced the assassination sequences in TDK.

 

Chris’ favorite architecture in TDK is the Bat Bunker scenes where the audience clearly sees the quality of life Bruce is living.

 

Films that inspired Chris to become a director were such movies as the first Star Wars films, Bladerunner and the best of the James Bond movies.

 

Heath ledger spent several hours in the makeup chair every morning.  

 

Heath Ledger brought interesting and unpredictable physicality to every scene.  It was Heath’s choice, as he wanted the Joker’s hair to be long because it just felt right to him.  Michael Caine found the video footage of Heath’s Joker scenes shocking.

 

Christian Bale did all the fighting scenes in this film because of increased mobility in new Batsuit.

 

Christopher does not shoot with a second unit because he enjoys being able to direct all the scenes in the film.

 

Movie makeup on IMAX has to be extremely perfect.

 

The citizens of Chicago were extraordinarily welcoming in Batman Begins and he wanted to use them again in TDK.

 

Christopher named the film The Dark Knight instead of Batman 2 because he wanted to create a definitive statement about the character of Batman.

 

35 mm anamorphic is the highest video quality.  The 35 mm film format is a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.

 

Chris tries to have the titles of his films figured out well before the shoot.

 

Product placement can be an effective tool for securing cooperation from companies you need to work with.

 

Chris was very involved in the Blu-ray disc creation.  He also believes that the theatrical cut of the movie should always be the authoritative version. 

 

Yes… it was a real Lamborghini they crashed.  Chris had 2 ready to crash.  They got the crash right on the first try so one car was saved.

 

The Batmobile was intended to be destroyed in Batman Begins but the production crew fell in love with it and could not bring themselves to destroy it.

 

The burning fire truck on 5th Street provides a very potent image of anarchy.  This is the scene where the armored truck is forced to take the underground route when transporting Harvey Dent.

 

It took many months to design how to flip the semi truck for real.  The semi was flipped using a very large hydraulic ram.

 

It took 3 weeks to film entire the Harvey Dent chase scene.

 

Chris built a full size mock model of the Batpod in his garage.  The Batpod was in the early draft of script.  Chris sat on the real Batpod briefly and said it was not very comfortable.  He also said there is only one stunt driver in the world that can drive it.

 

When Chris edits a scene he does it without music saying the scene plays well on its own and then he adds layers of music.

 

The Batpod turning on the wall was inspired by one of his son’s toys. 

 

Chris prefers to work without storyboards but if he uses them he hires the professionals.

 

When asked how many explosions are used in TDK Christopher Nolan acknowledged a lot.

 

The Joker was not supposed to clap during Gordon’s promotion to commissioner.  Heath Ledger did that on his own accord.

 

There were no scenes that were left out because of them being bloodier.

 

It was Heath Ledger’s idea for there to be a potato peeler in the Joker’s possession when he was arrested.  He felt it would be suitably gruesome and amusing.  Chris jested when he threw out the idea that he would not like to think what the Joker would do with a potato peeler. 

 

Bale and ledger wanted the violence in the interrogation scene to look realistic.  Most of the impacts were from sound effects.  This was the first major scene of the film to be shot.  

 

The makeup on the Joker’s hands was Heath’s idea because the Joker would have applied it himself

 

Batman as a character is driven by tragedy and the studios understood that when they killed off Rachel.

 

The scene in front of the burning pile of money is the last scene filmed with Ledger.  Heath slid down the money pile in 1 take with 2 cameras shooting it.

 

The Gotham hospital, which was blown up, was a disused candy factory.

 

The favorite thing about filming TDK was working with a talented cast and crew.

 

Chris’ favorite Joker line was when the Joker says Hi to Harvey Two-Face while he was dressed as a nurse at hospital (this is mine too!).

 

The first cut of the film was 15 minutes longer than the end product.

 

For the 35 mm version special extraction had to be made from IMAX photography.  For the IMAX footage all 35 mm footage had to be blown up to the IMAX format.

 

Two-Face is very much dead at the end of this film.

 

Christopher Nolan took two bathroom breaks during the BD-Live presentation.  He said and I quote “I gotta pee, it is a 2-pee movie.  I need to make a shorter film next time.”

 

There are no digital cameras in existence that shoot beyond the resolution of film.

 

Angela accepted the marriage proposal.

 

Chris thanks the fans and said he will not be doing this when he was asked to host another chat next week. 

 

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed being a part of the Warner Brothers’ BD-Live Christopher Nolan experience.  Please check out my Blu-ray disc review of The Dark Knight over at Into The Blu.

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ONE HECK OF A PROMOTER!!! Also a Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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