Video:City of Ember - Director Gil Kenan Interviewwith Rebecca Murray
Gil Kenan followed up his Oscar-nominated work as the director of 'Monster House' with another movie aimed at younger audiences: 'City of Ember.' At the 2008 Comic Con, Kenan talked about bringing the story alive onscreen.See Transcript
Transcript:City of Ember - Director Gil Kenan InterviewRebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.
City of Ember Director Gil Kenan
Tell me about keeping close to the source material – how difficult was that?
Gil Kenan: "Well, it was easy because the source material was fantastic. The thing I really had to do was to take something that was word-based, a puzzle-based novel, and turn it into a cinematic adventure. And to do that, it was kind of part of what was really fun about making this movie. I had to think about the design of this town and how to weave a puzzle into it. So to make this kind of living puzzle, it was actually a real treat."
The city is so much an integral character in the movie, so how did you bring it to life?
Gil Kenan: "Well, you know, I had some experience. I'd just come from making a house a living character and so this is kind of the natural extension. It's less animated, but it's no less alive. It's got a beating heart under it. I took a lot of those things in the novel that to me created a kind of larger living metaphor for the city, and kind of put a little bit more attention to them. I made this generator a real integral part of the story. I created visual motifs that really made this place a living, breathing place."
Did you have to lose anything that you regretted having to lose from the source material?
Gil Kenan: "Probably, but they don't come to mind. My process is that I read the book, you know, was inspired by it. It kicked off this entire journey. But I don't go back and like flip a page and make sure I missed a line. You know, it's really an interpretation of the novel. It's not a page to screen translation."
Because they never are.
Gil Kenan: "No, and I think that that does a disservice to both. I think you have to let a movie be a movie. And you know, there's a really interesting process that every reader goes through when they read a book for the first time. They always say, 'I saw a movie in my head.' You have a real cinematic relationship with that material. I feel like my duty is to sort of put a lid on that first movie that played in my head and try to nurture it to the screen."
That makes sense. How hard was it to find the two leads because they don't work, the whole movie doesn't work?
Gil Kenan: "No, and that's a good point. Thanks for the pressure. It was really hard. I waited to make sure that I got it right, and I did. And to do that I had to be a little bit less than precise about the ages of the kids in the novel. But to me it was more important that I got the spirit of the character, their nature, their chemistry. And Saoirse Ronan as Lina and Harry Treadaway as Duke, they really pop off the screen. They're alive."
You got her [Saoirse] before she got big.
Gil Kenan: "Yeah, that's right."
She may never want to do another action movie again.
Gil Kenan: "Well, she's really good. She moves well so it would be a shame if she didn't do another one."