There was some controversy in the otherwise perfect world of Marvel Studios this week when a director was perhaps a little too blunt and honest about why he turned down the chance to work with them.
French director Xavier Gens (Hitman, Cold Skin) pointed to their production line nature and lack of creative freedom, and how little the director actually gets to lay in this world. In an interview with Le Point, Gens spoke about his discussions with Marvel and how it became clear to him that he wouldn’t have been anywhere near around half the filmmaking process:
“I was in discussion [with Marvel], but I understood that the previews of the digital effects and action scenes were done by a box in London, and that I would be there to take care of only the direction of the actors. It is not very interesting. This is, I believe, why Edgar Wright declined Ant-Man, because at one point, on these productions, you are reduced to just directing fields/reverse fields on actors in front of a green background.
Directing a Marvel film can make a great calling card, but I’m not even sure that the names of the directors of ‘Captain Marvel’ are remembered today… I have already had a catastrophic experience with a studio, Hitman, and I don’t want to do it again, especially at 45. I prefer to direct Gangs of London or produce Papicha, much more important to me than any Marvel. Besides, I refuse all American orders.”
I can imagine this was said with a Gallic shrug, possibly while wearing a beret. Second unit directors have long taken the reins for action sequences and far flung location work. F/X work has been done offsite via suppliers since forever and there are now 3rd party companies you can outsource entire sequences and scenes to, such as stunt and fight choreographers. E.g. 87eleven.
Then in a second interview with The Playlist Gens didn’t really make things better:
“I was in discussion with different studios, but now I understand that the previews of the digital effects and action scenes are done by VFX companies like the Third floor in London, and that I would be there to take care of only the direction of the actors.
As director living in Europe, we are in charge of the entire process of the film. This is, I believe, why most of the European directors decline US studio movies. Because at one point, on these productions, you are reduced to just directing fields/reverse fields on actors in front of a green background. In Europe, we are responsible for the film from the beginning to the end.”
Whatever the reason, it’s fair to say Gens won’t be getting any future calls from Marvel.