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Denis Villeneuve discusses his filmmaking experiences that led to “Dune” (2 of 2)

Director Denis Villeneuve sat down with his “Blade Runner 2049” cinematographer Roger Deakins for the “Team Deakins” podcast.

In part two of my coverage, the filmmakers discuss the challenges fo CG work, watching movies on a variety of screens, and I list info on the remaking of “Dune.”

Follow the link for part one of this story.

Villeneuve’s work on “Sicario” and “The Arrival” set the stage for “Blade Runner 2049.”

“Earlier in my career, I loved the spontaneity of the camera,” Villeneuve said. “The more complex my projects became, the more I loved storyboarding and prep.”

Team Deakins joined Villeneuve in appreciating prep, saying their extensive prep on “Blade Runner 2049” gave them the freedom to craft the images exactly as they dreamed.

Roger would win his first of two consecutive Oscars for cinematography with the movie.

Director Denis Villeneuve and Cinematographer Roger Deakins
Director Denis Villeneuve and Cinematographer Roger Deakins

Villeneuve did caution about taking all that prep work to set. “The key is to be prepared, and have a plan, and then to throw it in the basket.”

Deakins noted that with Villeneuve’s last three movies, he seemed drawn to science fiction.

The director explained that for the longest time, he ran away from it, fearing the massive budgets and the outside control the budget brought to the project.

However, the dark, taboo themes and the intimacy between camera and subject of the director’s prior works return in his sci-fi movies.

Curiously, for a director who uses CG to create vast landscapes and flying cars, Villeneuve still prefers having as much reality as possible.

“CG is good for set extension or making people fly,” he said. “But, in the end, you need that reality, you need nature on your side. You cannot imitate nature.”

Watching movies in the cinema versus on TV

Their discussion eventually came to the topic of seeing a movie in the cinema versus sitting at home.

Both Deakins and Villeneuve agreed they make movies for the cinema. Villeneuve broke it down:

“It’s a different experience on a large screen versus a small one; some shots are designed to see details, but you can’t experience that on a small screen.”

As much as the filmmakers enjoyed the cinematic experience, they admitted they had experienced much of the cinema they loved on television.

Ultimately, they decided it’s more important the movies get seen, no matter what format they’re watched.

That said, Villeneuve told a story of how seeing the director watching “The Thin Red Line” on his iPhone horrified Roger.

Remaking Frank Herbert’s “Dune”

Images from Denis Villeneuve's "Dune"
(C) Warner Bros

Villeneuve’s “Dune” is the third crack at chronicling the story laid out by author Frank Herbert. The movie will cover the first half of Herbert’s novel.

In 1984, “Twin Peaks” creator David Lynch gave us the first version. This visually stunning but much derided film featured musician Sting in a speedo.

In 2000, Hallmark Entertainment gave us the second version via two SYFY Channel mini-series covering the first three books in the saga.

Both series received Emmy love for technical work.

In addition to the feature, Villeneuve will make the pilot for a “Dune” TV show entitled, “Dune: The Sisterhood” for HBO Max. The series follows the pre-“Dune” movie story of the Bene Gesserit.

Should “Dune” meet expectations, Villeneuve will return for a sequel that will finish the back half of Herbert’s novel.

“Dune” is expected in theaters (pandemic willing) on December 18th, 2020.


You can find the entire interview at “Team Deakins” podcast.

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