Scott Pilgrim Interview With Edgar Wright, Ellen Wong & Bryan Lee O’Malley

It’s the tenth anniversary today of the release of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in theatres so to celebrate I’m posting my conversation with director Edgar Wright, creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, and star Ellen Wong who played Knives Chau. Enjoy.

Kris – There’s a big difference between watching a movie in a theatre and sitting at home with a remote control in your hands. What I’d like to know is how do you guys watch movies differently at home than seeing them in a theatre?

Ellen – I like to watch it in my PJs, under a cozy blanket..

Edgar – I think sort of like, maybe, sometimes I’m more horizontal when I’m watching at home. Maybe I’m lying down..

Bryan – My couch folds out and I like to fold it out and I like to lie in front..

Ellen – I get a big bowl of popcorn as opposed to a bag

Bryan – A lot of tea, you don’t get tea in a movie theatre

Ellen – Yeah, tea. That’s true. 

Edgar – Yeah, I tend to watch a lot of things horizontally. 

Bryan – The dog watches it with me.

Kris – Some people, to get a better sense, because your second time watching a movie on home video is your chance to notice all sorts of things

Bryan – or your fourth or fifth time

Kris – or forth or fifth

Bryan – thirty-second

Kris – some people watch with the sound off. Some people watch, saying ‘This time I won’t follow the main action, I’m going to look for things in the background”, so I’m just wondering if those are the kind of things you may do.

Bryan – I just got a Blu-ray player and all I do is just watch how crisp everything is right now. I’m just like “Wow, Back To The Future, it’s never had this much detail”

Edgar – I like listening to commentaries and I find a lot of commentaries fascinating so they would usually be my second watch of a film. Y’know, some commentaries are better than others, but that tends to be what I do first is listen to the commentaries. 

Ellen – I think though, with the new Scott Pilgrim Blu-ray coming out

(this gets a big laugh from Edgar and Bryan)

Ellen – you’re going to be able to watch Scott Pilgrim sooo many ways. I’m telling you right now you’ve got the commentary, like Edgar was saying, but not just one commentary, you’ve got like a gazillion commentaries by a gazillion people and you can watch…

Edgar – Ellen Wong is on one of the commentaries

Ellen – there’s this really cool thing, it’s called PocketBlu, you can have Scott Pilgrim on your phone on your iPad, on anything…

Edgar – Are you on commission? 

Bryan – Did you learn about this thing before?

Ellen – You can watch it any way you like.

Bryan – Did you do some research since the last movie?

Kris – How involved are yourselves in terms of putting together a Blu-ray package like this?

Edgar – Well, y’know, myself and my producers, we produce all the content for the DVD. So that was being done and in fact, one of the editors of the film Paul Machliss, edited nearly, well apart from the making of documentary nearly everything else was done in the same edit suite as the film. So some of the extras have been worked on for as long as the movie itself. In fact we had to deliver all the extras on the day that the film opened in the UK. And so on the last day when we had to deliver the extras I was in the edit until five in the morning and I went out and did a Q & A for the film and then came back.  So that was kind of crazy. 

So yeah I’m completely involved with it and have done this for all the DVDs I’ve done and have had a hand in producing the extras because I think it’s important to have, like that personal touch. 

Kris – Are there certain things you set out to accomplish or feel you need to do when you set out to make that additional content?

Edgar – I think the main thing in this day and age where everything’s on a hard drive, and very little is on film, very little is on tape, like, you’ve got to document all this stuff before it disappears, before that hard drive goes corrupt, and like it’s gone forever. This film has had a very interesting life and process and so there are lots of things about the development of it, the rehearsal, and the production that I’m sure our fans, even if they are watching it for the first time next Tuesday, are going to want to see how it was made and how much work went into it. 

For me Blu-ray and DVD is sort of like a document of the entire process

Bryan – I’m sure it’s also like film school for some people

Edgar – I think a lot of people, when I was first wanting to be a director I didn’t even have a VCR at the time, I relied on watching things on TV and going to the cinema but now, I know that a lot of filmmakers watch DVDs as a way to learn. It’s like you’ve got a little film school in a box. 

Kris – And I guess there were a number of things you had to tackle for this film that you didn’t before?

Edgar – Yeah, there’s a lot of new skills that I had to learn, new collaborations with people that was amazing like Bill Pope (Cinematography) and Brad Allen (Stunts & Second Unit), even with the people I’ve worked with before like Double Negative, the visual effects company, it was still like twenty times the work of Hot Fuzz, in terms of the actual visuals on screen. That was an amazing experience and I couldn’t be prouder of the movie and how it looks. It’s a pretty uncompromised film in that respect. 

Kris – I follow you on Twitter and on your blog and you do talk about the production process, but from that perspective you make it sound effortless, you sound like you’re having a great time, it’ll be worth seeing how intense the work really was

Edgar – Also bear in mind that I haven’t slept in five years

Bryan – Watch during the production videos his facial expressions..

Edgar – Whatever gains in effortlessness in terms of the movie are lost in sleep and gained in weight through stress. 

Kris – So in a sense it’s also a personal record for yourself because chances are you’re going to forget all this.

Edgar – The only thing I don’t like about the Blu-ray is the fact that on the Making Of documentary I put on thirty pounds before your very eyes, which is very upsetting to me. 

Kris – Yeah, but you know from watching movies yourself, the audience doesn’t notice that, it’s only you yourself that will notice little things like that. The people at home aren’t going to be saying to themselves “oh look, Edgar’s put on weight”.

Bryan – It’s in Blu-ray though..

Edgar – Yeah, it’s pretty High-Def. I like to think that my performance in the Making Of is right up there with Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull. 

Kris – Did you try in any way to accomplish an education for people who may not be as hard core about Scott Pilgrim or hard core about movies themselves. I know there are lots of references, like the Ming ring sound effect from Flash Gordan.

Bryan – Well it’s the first adaptation, right? 

Edgar – Yeah, well for me things like that are all icing on the cake. Sometimes, and this has been the case with everything I’ve done I think people almost assume too much. Y;know for the most part we had amazing reviews, like we couldn’t be happier with the reviews, but there was also like a contingent of people who feel they missed something which didn’t actually exist and that’s what I find interesting because sometimes I think people read too much into it where, I think for Bryan and me a lot the references in the book and the film are kind of just like what’s in the air. 

It’s weird when people kind of, in a way it’s like when the sounds of computer games and of computers themselves are just like atmospherics. It’s like when someone asks me “What’s your favourite video game reference in the film?” I have to go “Ummm..” because it’s just become part of the fabric, I don’t really think of it in that way, really. I feel like it’s all part of the overall esthetic. 

Kris – So they are expressions unto themselves, it doesn’t really matter if you know the reference

Edgar – Not at all

Kris – They’re just part of the language of the movie and it doesn’t matter if you pick them up at all.

Edgar – I think it’s almost like using new grammar. It’s like using a punch sound effect from a game is pertinent to this film, but you wouldn’t normally be using that you’d be using a sound effect from a CD from the 50’s which is sort of like we’re just updating our sound board basically. 

Kris – Bryan, I guess this movie in many ways makes the world of Scott Pilgrim flesh and blood, makes it real life, but once it came out you have this expanded universe of tie-ins, merchandise, I have to say I’ve been very impressed in terms of everything I’ve seen with the Scott Pilgrim logo on it, in terms of 

Bryan – Quality Control

Kris  – Yes. I’m wondering if that has been your experience and reaction. I don’t know how much control you’ve had over it, if you have to entrust others to do that..

Bryan – Edgar has been really kind to have everything funnel past me, in terms of the game and the toys and stuff like that.

Edgar – Well there’s also passing the buck as well.

Bryan – Well, yeah. 

(laugh)

Bryan – He’s also very busy. 

Edgar – If you’re happy with it, I’m happy with it. 

Bryan – Yeah, exactly. So I mean there’s been more stuff that we killed because it wouldn’t have been cool or whatever, or just stupid. 

Edgar – There was a point where, Bryan particularly, where the game was as good as it could possibly be and I think they did an amazing job with that. 

Bryan – Given that it’s a film that uses the language of a video game and gaming culture is part of the fan base, if we made a really bad video game we’d hear about it a lot for the rest of our lives. So yes, we worked hard to make that something good. 

Kris – Are there plans to continue on with the world of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in any way? Is it its own contained story?

Bryan – For me, yeah I worked on it for six years and I’m ready to try something else for awhile. I won’t rule out returning to it at some point, but I feel like it’s self-contained right now. 

Kris – In some ways I guess the Blu-ray allows you to continue on with it. How involved we you in terms of creating extras and features?

Bryan – I was involved in choosing what was left, but I’m all over it. I know there’s a feature about, kind of page-to-screen, I allowed them to take a lot of my artwork and stuff, so I’m curious to see all that stuff, but I also don’t like looking at myself on the screen, so I’ll probably just skip a lot of it, fast-forward..

Edgar – Your weight is consistent throughout the Making Of

Bryan – Well I was working out, so I was going down probably.

Kris – Ellen what does the release of the movie on home video going to mean for you? Will this be a chance for fans to add more scrutiny? You had to play I think one of the most expressive characters in the Scott Pilgrim world in terms of trying to be a human being trying to emulate a comic book character, I’d say yours was the hardest. 

600

Ellen – I don’t know if mine was the hardest. I think they were all equally, y’know, the same, it’s just Bryan was great at creating real people, of bring to life real life, grounded stories. Essentially that’s what it is, every character has their own personal journey and Knives had her own and that was what I really focusing on. For me it was just more important to show her growth, to show that duality in her. 

She starts off as this young, naïve girl in her routine life and then by meeting Scott Pilgrim that’s when her life changes because he takes her on this journey and she starts to really find herself and see where she fits in this crazy world. For me it was just showing that journey and from that, hopefully, showing that growth in Knives. 

Kris – Have you had reaction from your friends or family in terms of seeing Knives Chau as a character in a book and then seeing you as that character?

Ellen – I guess so for my family. I was really important for me to share that with my family because acting was something that I always wanted to do and for the first time to be able to share that with them with such an amazing character. I was really excited to have that chance to have my parents go and watch it with me at the theatre, y’know? That was really a great experience. 

Kris – Well I want to tell you there’s one frame in the Scott Pilgrim books where Knives Chau has a very big, signature Anime/Manga look and when I heard that the movie was coming out I couldn’t fathom how in the world you’d be able to pull that off.

Ellen – Where she goes “Oh my god!”

Kris – Yes!

Ellen – I can’t tell you how many hours I sat in front of the mirror with Bryan’s books and doing things and going, ‘Okay, that’s how I’m going to do it”. It was Bryan too and Edgar on set, us all working together as a team to create that. 

Kris – Well, you nailed it. 

Ellen – Thank-you. 

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