2018 • Visual Effects • Backstage

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90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Visual Effects

SPEECH BY:John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
FILM: “BLADE RUNNER 2049”

A. (John Nelson) Hello, everyone. We are extremely happy. Extremely happy for this. I’m John Nelson. This is Gerd Nefzer. This is Paul Lambert and Richard Hoover. And we are the effects team for BLADE RUNNER 2049.

Q. I will ask a question first in English, then in German.
A. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Q. Herr Nefzer, you look very proud on the stage, and you thanked Germany. Can you tell us also about the contribution to your film that you did? And in Deutsch. [Speaks in German.]
A. (Gerd Nefzer) In Deutsch or in English?

Q. First in German, then in English.
A. (Gerd Nefzer) [Speaks in German.]

Q. So BLADE RUNNER was such a seminal movie. It’s such a visionary film, and I know it was exciting to be able to work on this re‑imagining of the tale or revisiting. But can you explain to us what it’s like to actually be holding the Oscar right now for your work on this new version?

A. (John Nelson) Well, it’s pretty much like you dream ‑‑ you start a project with the idea in your mind that you are lucky enough to get the sequel to the film that everyone loves. So you live for two years with everyone poking you in the chest and saying, “It better be good.” Right? And then ‑‑ then you dream that it could be as good as you think it could be. And then ultimately, you’re lucky enough, through the talent largely of these guys behind me, to ‑‑ to be able to really bring it, right, and you bring it.
And for me, at this point in my life, it’s sort of like this incredible confluence of rivers, right? And I’m just ‑‑ I’m overjoyed with happiness. I mean, just, like ‑‑ I just can’t tell you how happy I am for Denis, for Ridley, for these guys, for the entire crew. I mean, it was a labor of love, and we brought it every night until midnight or 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, right? For, like, six‑ and seven‑day weeks for a year and three‑quarters, right? So, but tonight, it feels, like, pretty good.

Q. So as a way ‑‑ as a follow‑up on that question, so how do you work, both honoring the original ‑‑ the original vision for which you are extending, and yet with this toolbox that has expanded since that was made? I know you did use a lot of miniatures, but just talk about, you know, that original vision and look, and this new toolbox you had that did not exist when the original came out.

A. (John Nelson) I’m going to say something really short, and then I want these guys to talk. I mean, we knew what could be done, but consciously, with Denis and everyone on the film, we reined the effects back in because we felt that too many films had been BLADE RUNNER copies that turned the excess knob up to, like, 13, right? So we just turned everything and, like, pulled it back and made it very analog and dirty and nothing like ‑‑ like, CG is shiny and clean. Not in our movie, right? But I want these guys to talk. So you guys talk.

A. (Paul Lambert) John pretty much covered it there in that, like, we tried to get the cities as oppressive as possible. Like, you never wanted to see, like, a pretty vista. And you never wanted any shot to, like, jump out as a visual effect. So we worked really hard to make sure we matched Roger Deakins’ photography, you know, like, the “Did I focus?” And, the “Did I ‑‑ depth of field?” And like, “Did I (indiscernible) color?” So we tried ‑‑ we tried really hard to try and keep as realistic as possible without jumping out of the movie.

A. (John Nelson) Real and dirty.

A. (Richard R. Hoover) Well, for me this movie was about art. It’s a movie about making imagery that stood up to the first film. And we had that on our shoulders from the beginning. The first film made such a profound impact on commercials, films. Ridley’s lighting, his production design, all those things were on our mind. We met, after four weeks of shooting 12‑hour days, every Saturday and Sunday and just discussed and kicked around ideas of how we could make things better.

A. (John Nelson) Yeah.

A. (Richard R. Hoover) So as much as you want to hear about effects being new technology, this was really about how to do it right, how to diffuse the eye from thinking it was CG, and making great art.

A. (John Nelson) And one of the things we did really was, like, we built as much set as we could, and we had practical effects, which were done by Gerd and his team, which would lay down the foundation so things would be real, and we’d build on top of.

A. (Richard R. Hoover) And Roger’s lighting, Dennis’ production design, the concept artists that drew, you know, all kinds of ideas and images was all part of the palette of how we got to where we got to.

Q. First I’m going to ask in German, then in English. [Speaks in German.] How are you going to celebrate maybe the biggest life [sic] of your career so far?

A. (Gerd Nefzer) We don’t know yet, but I think it’s ‑‑ ah, in German. [Speaks in German.]

A. (John Nelson) [Speaks in German.] Gerd is going to arbeit on Montag.

A. (Gerd Nefzer) Yeah. I have to go back to work on Monday. So I fly back and go straight into a project on Tuesday.

A. (Paul Lambert) He’s not going to sleep.

Q. Thank you so much gentlemen, and congratulations?
A. (John Nelson) I think we are going to drink a river of champagne tonight really. Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.

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