By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 22, 2013 at 1:39PM
Audience: Many professionals have taught me to emphasize one skill but back when you guys had to showcase multiple skills and prove that you could write and direct, what did you create and how did you manage to showcase more than one skill?
EW: If you want to get into writing and directing, it is a good thing to try and do every job. Even to be an actor onscreen, if that's not your calling, you can understand an actor's perspective. I made amateur films as a teenager and was learning by my own mistakes, but I ended up doing everything. Because of that, I have an idea of everybody's job. If you want to be a director, it's a good idea to step into everybody's shoes even for one shot just to see how it feels. You'll learn so much by trying on all the different hats. I always loved editing. I don't edit but it's something I'm passionate about. It gives me an understanding when I'm working with an editor.
Audience: For your current projects, were there any films that you drew reference or inspiration from?
AC: When you're doing a film, you have an array of films that effect you and why you make films. In this last film, there's a film that I love, Spielberg's 'Duel.' That was his first film. The whole film is Dennis Weaver driving a car and being chased by this big truck in this desert. It's one character being chased by this force.
MW: I looked at 'Operation Dumbo Drop.'
EW: In our film, our heroes stumble into this sort of social science fiction, like a quiet invasion. When I was growing up, a lot of films like 'Village of the Damned' and episodes of 'Doctor Who.' Before Netflix, you would watch what you were given. Now when you have so much choice but now you can watch anything. As such, I saw decades of science fiction b-movies, a lot of those kind of movies were an influence on me.
Who was the mentor that helped get you started?
MW: I was a volunteer at Sundance one year when I was in a college and I met this guy Doug Pray in a parking lot who went to the same college I went to. He taught me how to edit when I first moved to Los Angeles and I had to transcribe his first documentary film. He didn't do a lot of narrative stuff but he did music videos, and I always really valued that. He was a really wonderful documentary filmmaker and brilliant editor. Appreciating that form has been incredibly helpful for me.
AC: The idea of having mentors is something that keeps the ball rolling from generation to generation. Growing up in Mexico there were a couple of filmmakers. I did many positions in the industry. I did fifteen movies as a boom operator. I was making my way up. I was an AD [assistant director] for a long time, and there was a director who I ADed for I consider a mentor, José Luis García Agraz. What I learned from other people, for instance early on someone who helped me in my Hollywood career was Sydney Pollack, and something that I learned from Sydney is the importance of giving a hand to the next generation.
EW: Somebody who was really encouraging to me was my drama teacher. He's actually in 'Hot Fuzz.' Somebody plays him in the 'World's End.' His name is Peter Wild. When I was 16 and making films on super 8 and video, he would encourage me. It's good at that early stage to have an authority figure to say, this is good, keep doing this. One of the directors whose story really inspires me is Sam Raimi. I saw this documentary on British TV in 1988 called 'The Incredibly Strange Film Show' and it was about Sam Raimi making the 'Evil Dead' films at the age of 18. I had assumed wrongly that, like Steven Spielberg, he had been dropped off by a stork at Universal Studios. When I saw the Sam Raimi films, I thought you had to grow up in Hollywood. Hearing his story of making a film in Michigan and then going to the Cannes Film Festival, the light bulb went off. Having that person in your life early on who is encouraging is important.
Edgar, you brought up younger filmmakers, I was curious to know for all of you, Spielberg and Lucas made some extreme comments about the state of the film industry and I wanted to know your thoughts and where we might be headed in the future and how it might affect young filmmakers.
AC: What is definitely changing is the way in which films are released and distributed. We are about to live in a moment in which there is going to be a big change. Now multiplex cinemas are almost exclusively for big movies. Ten years ago you could find very small movies.
MW: It's very difficult to make a $15 million dollar drama. It's almost impossible. Even the independent film market has been marginalized in a significant way.
AC: But that's in terms of distribution. That doesn't mean that those films don't get made.
MW: It's a great time to be a young filmmaker because you have access to equipment you never could have imagined having before.
AC: In terms of distributing films, even if multiplexes are the monopoly of big films, there are other means of distribution right now, so that's the part that is very exciting. We don't know where that's going to lead. I don't think that means that from now on only sequels and franchises are going to be produced.
MW: A lot of writers have migrated to TV because it's novelistic. The serialized form that has taken shape on TV is new and exciting. The types of storytelling you can engage in there is awesome.
AC: I don't think it's so much about drama vs fantasy or drama vs action because even action films, or fantasy films, that are not branded, they don't necessarily find a place in the market. Right now we are living in an age in which for the multiplexes, franchises and sequels are required. Those things will keep on existing.
EW: I think there's going to be a choice. There is an appetite for original films as well as for franchises and series. Sometimes it just comes down to the season. In the summer, big effects movies come out. Last year, over four of the best picture nominees grossed over $100 million. It's definitely true that the multiplex has to be more diverse and independent films need a chance to break out. That's why I'm excited to see 'Gravity.' There has to be a balance. If we don't start doing more original films, there will be nothing to remake in thirty years time.
AC: I'm not against the possibility of other ways those films will be released. It's happening right now.
EW: There's actually more ways for people to get their work out there than ever before. If you're starting out as a young filmmaker, you have more chance of your film being seen than when we all started making movies.
Audience: Mr. Wright what's going on with 'Ant Man'? What's next on the horizon?
EW: I will be doing "Ant Man" in 3-D. I'm making this movie for Marvel next. I wanted to do it with 2015 effects and not 2005 effects. It will be better for the wait.
MW: I want to finish 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2.' There are many things but it's hard to say right now. There are other projects I would love to do down the road. I'd like to do some musicals. I've been messing around with physical comedy.
EW: People always gave us a hard time for not doing a third series of 'Spaced.' I'd definitely like to work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost again. I'll never be done with those guys.
AC: 'Gravity' was supposed to be released last November. I haven't finished it yet. One day I'll finish it. I would like to do a horror movie.