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Zemeckis at the helm31 Oct 2009
By TNPihl (JCO Editor-In-Chief)
With films like "Forrest Gump," the "Back to the Future" trilogy, "Cast Away" and "The Polar Express" under his belt, Academy Award®-winning director Robert Zemeckis has established himself as an expert filmmaker.
It's all about telling a good story.
"I think what makes him an extraordinary filmmaker is that his films are not just blockbusters," says Colin Firth, "they're films that people cherish year after year. They're all favorites. It's character and it's story. Films like 'Back to the Future' were fantastic from a special effects point of view but it wasn't about that. You wanted to see what was going to happen to the character when he goes back in time. Everything was thought through on a human level. Bob is a storyteller."
For Zemeckis, the process began with the writing of the script. Utilizing this superb source material, the writing process resulted in a script that is accessible to the modern audience and yet true to the original material.
"The source material is so good and it is all there," says producer Jack Rapke. "Bob wrote a brilliant adaptation of Dickens. There is such depth to the story and the character and the journey that is truly unparalleled."
Those who work with the Academy Award®-winning director find him open-minded, innovative and collaborative.
"We worked together on "Forrest Gump," says Robin Wright Penn of the director. "Loved him then, love him now. He's like Santa Claus, because he's jolly in his openness to actors. He will say, 'Let's explore. Sure. Why not? Let's try it.' It's such a liberating way to work. Because why not try? Why not fail? Because, guess what? We don't have to use it, you know? He's very much like that. He doesn't work with a lot of fixed ideas."
Production designer Doug Chiang, who worked with Zemeckis on "The Polar Express," "Monster House" and "Beowulf," adds: "Bob is a fantastic director to work for, primarily because he always pushes the boundaries of design. And what I love about it is that even in the initial meetings, what he describes and what I envision in my mind during those first meetings is almost always just a fraction of where he's going. And that's the part that I love as a designer, because I know that whatever we start on day one in the first few weeks, the end result is going to be ten times that. And, as a designer, it's really the surprise and the challenge of the unexpected that I get from Bob."
"Bob Zemeckis provides a challenge for everybody working with him," says Starkey. "He's a wonderful collaborator. He actually looks for collaboration with those around him and actually feeds on the artistic input of everybody that works with him. He's very smart and knows many crafts as well as the people themselves do, and he challenges them in their craft. And he's always exploring new technologies and at the same time new stories. So you get the best of both worlds. You get to take cinema into the future and at the same time, tell stories that haven't been seen before."
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