вторник, 8 декабря 2009 г.

He's like any other actor


ВАDHAM: Oh, I'll tell your, he certainly was one of our actors! Number Five ran our lives, just like a star will run your life—how he was feeling that day, how he was working or not working, whatever was going on with old Number Five. Certainly, during scenes, you would get very involved in his ability to be alive and get caught up in it. Absolutely. STARLOG.: What were some of the problems of directing Number Five and relating to him as an actor?

Well, he's like any other actor. You have to really handle him and be nice to him. You've got to give him a little squirt of WD-40 oil in the morning, instead of a cup of coffee, so he'll start up for you. You 're trying to create life out of a series of parts that normally don't have life—and how do you do it? By every theatrical and filmic trick known to man! Whatever it lakes to get the shot, is what you do. Sometimes, we had 12 people operating the robot and they all had to coordinate their work, to make the robot move in a smooth motion. It was very difficult.

STARLOG: If you had up to 12 people working Number Five, how did you manage all the robots going at once—as when the three other robots were doing their Three Stooges routine?

Lines of dialogue

STARLOG: Did you have someone speaking lines of dialogue while you were filming? BADHAM: Yes. While we were acting, the actors needed something to act to and the robot needed something to move to. It was very critical to have all of his parts on the set. and not say. "Oh, we'll just add that later." thereby putting actors in the terrible position of having to act to nothing else—like in special IX movies where the eight-armed serpent is not there. Here at least, you could literally develop scenes as you were going along and get interaction. You could get things that were bigger and better than things you had on paper because of that interaction of the actors and the robot just like you do with regular actors.
STARLOG: Other directors have sometimes said that they never believed that the "creature" in their movie was real. Did you believe that Number five was really one of your, actors?

Stereoptic vision

Eric was voted the most valuable player on the team, not only because he managed to get the robot built, but because he also kept him running and made him do what we all wanted.
Of course, we had to have things in our design that we could justify on a rational basis. For example, we had stereoptic vision, and various listening and atmospheric sensing devices, because this type of robot would need them—and they arc technologically possible. The very real problem was Number Five's speech. A mouth moving up and down would have looked silly, and a speaker hidden inside would have looked deadly dull—it gives you nothing in terms of character. Yet, so much of the personality can come from the speech. So. we devised a kind of brain-voice box (o go underneath the head, in order to create the effect that it was the robot who was actually talking, that it wasn't just voices that we had plastered on later.

Least 50 years ahead

We postulated a robot that is at least 50 years ahead of the stale of the art, if not a century ahead. When you really start thinking about an all-terrain robot. it gets rather mind-boggling, and makes you appreciate human beings much more. 1 mean, what do we do when This guy has to climb up rocks? That's a tough one. And how do you deal with what you want the robot to do and not limit it? An anthropomorphic shape came out of that, too. It was all rather tricky.
We worked with Syd Mead and Eric Allard—who actually built and constructed the robots—based on a design that is jointly theirs. It wouldn't be the same robot if one or the other of those men were not present. Eric contributed not only the mechanical engineering know-how necessary to realize this robot, but he also developed many areas, like the head. The whole detailed concept of the head, where so much of the robot's personality is, is Eric's.

In the end

In the end. Ally was just the one who could do all things for everybody. She had the innocence, the charm and the ability to play the part nicely and convincingly. She's not really a comedienne, but she has the ability to play light comedy very well. STARLOG: The robot had lo be attractive and cute, so that the audience would like it, yet it couldn't be too cute or people wouldn't believe it was real. Did you go through many designs to reach that balance? BADHAM: I think everything that you say is accurate. We certainly wanted to have a robot that you would instantly believe, without thinking about it. that wouldn't look like there was somebody inside. You would have to see that this robot was operating on its own. And in fact it was—that was one of our parameters. The robot also had to fulfill design functions in the plot: a rolling foot soldier. But, at the same time, it had to be something that you could connect with. So. I felt the robot needed some anthropomorphic qualities. We tried some anthropomorphic designs to see how they would work—something more along the lines of the "garbage-can" robot, like R2-D2. We knew that we didn't want а C-3PO type, which is clearly a guy stuffed in a gold suit. In the end, we avoided the' 'garbage can" type because it has been done ю death—we had to come up with something fresh.

I interviewed and tested

I interviewed her and tested her twice before we decided on her. STARLOG: Were you harder on her than you might have been on an actress you hadn't worked with previously? BADHAM: Sometimes, you arc harder on somebody you know because you already know not only all of their good points, but all their shortcomings, too. What it came down to was that we needed to find the person who could perform the best. We found that many women just couldn't handle the kind of innocence that the character needed. Many of them were much too.. ."knowing,"and any innocence that they tried to put on just looked false.

Madison learned seemed pretty

I mean, whatever Madison learned seemed pretty sad by me. I think that what Number Five does is very charming. The fact that he found very funny things to do with the material he learned is what's important.
There are. however, certain similarities to E.T., who learned something about phoning home. And, I don't suppose you can avoid talking about those things. But am I worried about it? Well, I was in love with the script, and I was not trying to do those movies. In fact, I tried rather assiduously to avoid doing those movies.
STARLOG: Why did you decide to work with Ally Shccdy a second lime? BADHAM: Not because I had worked with her in WarGames, but because I was looking for the best actress to play that рал, and she was that actress. We talked to many different people.

I encouraged people

I encouraged people lo do ihis, of course. Bui last night, the test screening was ihe first chance that I had to sit back and look at the end result. And I found myself saying to Number Five. "Shut up! Stop chattering so much!" So, now simply like weeding a garden, I'll go pull out some of that, and it'll be fine.
STARLOG: There have been so many films where an alien or another such creature has learned things from watching TV—arc you at all worried that people will compare Number Five to E.T., Madison the mermaid in Splash, or the aliens in Explorers. I don't think that you can avoid making those comparisons, if what you want to do is make comparisons. All I can say is that what Number Five docs with his material beats the heck out of what those other guys did.

lightning bolt

In Short Circuit, a stray lightning bolt Imbues Number Five with a mind of his own. For the cast and crew, the robot was alive In some ways.
The character of Ben. the Indian scientist, was just a plain old W.A.S.P. in the earlier version. This character was a good inspiration to bring that whole end of the film alive, and make it have as much charm as the robot. There was also a great deal of work on the subsidiary characters, the dialogue and the humor, trying to keep the picture as funny as possible, without being too cute. The film would sometimes want to sink into cutcness and cloyingness, and is even threatening to do so now, as we keep working on it.
For example, we had been doing some recording with Number Five's voice, and he had, along the way. some ad-libs and a fewinspiralional ihings. 
STARLOG/./U/V 1986 63

When did you first become involved wiih Short Circuif!

STARI.OG: When did you first become involved wiih Short Circuif! JOHN BADHAM: Around February 1985. Righl away. 1 fell in love wiih Number Five. I found Short Circuit a very engaging science-ficlion adveniure story. I started working on il 24 hours after reading the script, going full-borc ahead with il, I started to figure out how we were going to do Number Five, and what we were going to do with this first draft screenplay. Although it was very promising, it needed work.
STARLOG: Have there been many changes from that first draft compared to what was finally filmed?
BADHAM: I would say that the story structure is very similar, but that the characters have changed, and hopefully arc improved.
Coordinating this trio ol robots to perform like the Three Stooges was "an absolute nightmare, horrendous and horrible." according to Bodhom.
As Stephanie, Number Five's self-appointed guardian, Badham cast the innocent and charming Ally Sheedy. The two previously played WarGames together.

Starlog interview

Man, woman & a machine with a sense of humor meet for fun in the wacky hi-tech world of the director who piloted "Blue Thunder " and played dangerous "WarGames."

Director John Badham has thrilled audiences with steamy dancing (Saturday Night Fever) and sexy vampires (Dracula), wowed them with spectacular helicopter stunts (Blue Thunder), and given them food/or thought about the possibility of a computer hacker starting World War III (WarGames). Now, Badham hopes to steal their hearts with Short Circuit.
Short Circuit explores the world of robotics and artificial intelligence, with the story of a prototype "soldier" robot. Number Five which, accidentally, comes to life. Starring with Number Five are Ally (WarGames), Sheedy, Steve (Cocoon) Gut-tenberg and Fisher (My Science Project) Stevens.
Badham wasdeep in the midst of meetings to finalize the score and editing o/Short Circuit when he took time out for an interview with STARLOG. The previous evening had seen the film's first public viewing, and there were many decisions to be made on the basis of the audience's "response cards."
It was clear throughout the discussion that Short Circuit is a film Badham cares about deeply. For him. Number Five really was alive, and the director hopes that is true for audiences as well.