Spike Jonze discusses his new film 'I'm Here' at the Sundance Film Festival
The MySpace Cafe stands at the top of The Lift, which is at the bottom of Main Street.
And, to my enormous delight, it's about 100 yards from the back door of the condo where Team HitFix is camped out this year.
That made for a very convenient afternoon when I had time for an hour-long nap I desperately needed, and then I got up, showered, and walked over, headphones on. There's something epic about playing Basil Poledouris and Ennio Morricone music while you're walking through a snowstorm. Up the stairs to the MySpace cafe, and then a quick check-in, and then I was able to get out of the cold just long enough to basically take off the jacket, the gloves, and grab a hot chocolate, and then it was right over to sit down with Spike Jonze, here in town to promote his short film, "I'm Here," which I reviewed on opening night.
I hadn't seen Spike since the interview we did on Ain't It Cool News while "Where The Wild Things Are" was still in post-production, and we've been trying to put some time together for months. It was nice to finally see him here, especially with a new film to talk about, and the first thing I did as I sat down was handed him what looked like a prescription bottle. He seemed a little taken aback until he turned it and realized it was a bottle of our special festival-only HitFix mints. They come in an authentic pharmacy bottle with the following label:
"Prescription for an entertainment fix: HitFix.
Dosage: all day, every day.
Active ingredients: movies, TV, music, concerts, local events.
Overdose at HitFix.com/Sundance"
I've been handing them out to a few people when I can at the fest, and if you see one of us from HitFix and you feel like you need a dose, let me know. I love handing them to someone who doesn't know what they are, because they almost always try to politely decline with an "Oh, no, I'm sorry, I don't really party anymore," or something similar. Hilarious.
Spike seemed really taken with the bottle, and as he started to break the seal, we chatted about my reaction to the film. I asked him if the skill set he learned on "Where The Wild Things Are," and particularly in bringing the Wild Things to life, was part of the genesis of this film.
"It was. Surprisingly. I wanted to do something small after 'Wild Things,' and in a way, it was while we were shooting, but then when we finished, it was like, 'Okay, now we've got four months of visual effects and post to do.'"
One of the really impressive things about the robots in the film is how much of the actors you can see in the performances, and I asked him how you take something so basic and boxy and give it a personality.
"It helps that this was different than 'Wild Things.' This time, the people doing the voices were actually the ones in the suits. So they gave the whole performance. And they were both so great, and really played off of each other."
I didn't have a press kit on the film but based on the credits I'd seen the night before, I felt pretty sure that his brother had written the score, and asked him about it.
"He did. Along with several other people. We actually had this song, 'There Are Many Of Us,' by Aska Matsumiya, and it started with that song first, and then that became sort of a key piece of the mood I wanted to set."
How did Absolut get involved? They're the only producers listed up front, and I know some people were really cynical about that as we spoke last night.
"They just wanted to get back into sponsoring creative people. They've always done that, they've always reached out to the creative community. They approached me, and they didn't have any sort of requirement that the film had to be about vodka or anything. I had this idea... I'd been working on it for a while, actually... and they told me they might want to do a short. It was a really easy process with them, and they were great to us."
Where did the look of the robots come from? It's so retro and boxy and fun, and it's nothing like we're used to with robots these days with things like "All Is Full of Love" or "A.I.".
"They're very utilitarian. They're not meant to be beautiful. They pave roads, or shelve books at the library, or whatever. She's a newer model than he is, but still... and I did want them to be sort of Apple-inspired, but old-school Apple. Like the Apple II. The big boxy ones."
I had to tease him a bit, because there's a shot in the film during that montage where they're falling in love that is sort of unmistakably looking out at the Griffith Observatory. There's that early "Wild Things" test footage that leaked online that was shot in what looks like the exact same spot, and I asked him if I was right in my guess. Is that a favorite spot?
(laughs) "It is. I can walk there, and I just love it. It's really pretty."
The question I was busting to ask was not about the short, and I know that's lame, so I held off as long as I could. Finally, I could wait no longer, and I begged him to tell me a little about "Jackass 3D" and the tests they recently did. I heard it was to see if they could do things in that sort of handheld loose improv style that is so important to what "Jackass" is.
"We did do a test. All the guys who always shoot 'Jackass' are going to get these handheld 3D cameras. When we showed the footage, everyone came. All the guys. And when they left, they were totally energized. They have some really great ideas now."
I told him I know people who are afraid of a "Jackass" movie in 3D.
(laughs) "That's probably a good thing."
Are you taking some time off before you start thinking about your next feature?
"I am. I just finished this about four days ago, so I'm going to take a little while. Recharge."
If you haven't seen the official website for "Where The Wild Things Are,'" it's unlike any other movie tie-in site I've ever seen, an eclectic aggregate site for photographers and artists and musicians, run by Spike and a few friends on both coasts. It's become part of my regular online reading habits, so I asked him, what are you going to do with "We Love You So"?
"We're deciding that now. You know, originally Warner Bros paid for that, but the movie's out now, so we have to figure out what the next step could be."
Is there going to be a big giant deluxe 'Wild Things' DVD/BluRay?
"There are some really good things on there that Lance Bangs shot. Definitely. But we were working on it while we were finishing the film, so we didn't really cut anything new."
Are we going to see, for example, any of the recording sessions for the voices?
"No. We may go back later though when we have time and put something more complete together."
Unfortunately, as I finished that question, I could see more people waiting to sit down with Spike. It's tough at festivals, especially for a director as beloved as Jonze is, so I thanked him for his time. As he finally tried a couple of mints, I bundled up and headed back out into the snow.
Thanks to MRC for putting Spike and I together again, and to the MySpace Cafe for being f'ing awesome. Looks like I know where I'm having breakfast tomorrow.
Can't get enough of Motion/Captured? Don't miss a post with daily HitFix Blog Alerts. Sign up now.
Don't miss out. Add Motion/Captured to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience by clicking here.
Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.