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Tag: Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes) (1-7 of 7)

Best of 2013: Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler on filming the harrowing tragedy of 'Fruitvale Station'

Oscar Grant was only 22 years old when he died after being shot in the back by an Oakland transit policeman in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. The public outcry that followed was inflamed because the shooting was recorded by shocked BART-train passengers who captured it on their cellphones and immediately posted online. One of the young Bay Area residents who was outraged by what transpired on the video was an aspiring filmmaker named Ryan Coogler, also 22. In Southern California, 21-year-old actor Michael B. Jordan watched the grainy footage on Facebook and had a heavy heart. “Being somebody who was so close to my age, it was almost like a peer getting shot down,” he says. “It kind of really sat with me.”

Three years after Grant’s death, Coogler and Jordan set out to tell the story of Grant’s last 24 hours alive in Fruitvale Station. It’s not an angry film, nor does it lionize Grant and make him a saint. Grant had dealt drugs and served a prison sentence. But at the time of his death, he was trying to start over — according to those who knew him best — and become the son, boyfriend, and father that others needed him to be.

Coogler had earned the trust of Grant’s family, and interviewed everyone who crossed paths with Grant on Dec. 31, 2008. Combined with cellphone records and legal documents, he pieced together Grant’s movements and interactions to create an informed version of his final day alive. Such details were crucial — especially for Jordan, who Coogler recruited to star — because there was very little if any video of Grant himself. That is, except for the horrible video of his final moments.

Fruitvale Station premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won several top prizes, was quickly picked up by The Weinstein Company, and is currently a serious contender for several year-end awards. Sundance audiences were stunned into silence by the film, which opens with the actual amateur footage of Grant’s shooting at the Fruitvale BART station. It was a decision Coogler wrestled with. “That was something that I was initially very firmly against,” he said at Sundance. “I didn’t want any real footage in the film. But you sometimes have to take a step back. Being from the Bay Area, I knew that footage like the back of my hand, but more people from around the world had no idea about this story. It made sense for them to see that footage and see what happened to Oscar, and I think it was a responsibility that we had to put that out there. From now on, everyone who sits down and sees this film, they see the truth. There’s no CGI in that, in what they did to that young man. That’s the real deal.”

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): How Harrison Ford revealed his true 'character' in '42'

Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford because he made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, raced Nazis for lost treasure, and got the best of vengeful terrorists no matter the odds. Ford has been a movie star of the brightest magnitude for nearly 40 years, and not unlike Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood, he is most popular when he plays a version of his most heroic action-adventure characters. But this year, Ford went in another direction. In 42, the story of Jackie Robinson, he put on a fat-suit, wore a dowdy bow-tie, hid behind some facial prosthetics, and traded his iconic voice for a scholarly growl to play Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ executive who expedited the integration of Major League Baseball.

You might think someone of Ford’s pedigree can land any role he wants, but even at the height of his stardom, character roles like Rickey were not frequently available to him. “When I would occasionally suggest blurring the edges of the movie-star personality, it was often rejected,” says Ford. “If I wanted to wear a mustache or a beard, they’d say, ‘No, no, no, we paid for the face. We want to see you.’ But I was always anxious to play characters. That’s why when I was offered the first Jack Ryan movie, I said I think the script is great, but I’d rather play the Russian guy [ultimately played by Sean Connery] than Jack Ryan. They said, ‘Oh, no, no, no.'”

Not much had changed when 42‘s writer and director Brian Helgeland was casting Rickey, the supporting character in his modestly-budgeted sports film. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): Penning the tense 'Prisoners'


Screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski is a father now, but he’s thankful he wasn’t one when he sat down to work on the script for Prisoners, the dark drama released in September starring Hugh Jackman as a father who’s willing to do whatever it takes to locate his abducted daughter — including torture the man he’s convinced kidnapped her and her friend. “I think if I’d had kids, I wouldn’t have lasted long. I wouldn’t have been able to write it. Your kids would constantly creep in to the imaginary scenario you’re constantly running through your head. At the time, I was just trying to imagine the worst thing possible,” he says. “I wanted to write something that involves things that scare me personally. One of the things I’m most scared of is losing things — it could be anything, even things that aren’t that consequential. Obviously when it comes to kids, it’s multiplied by a million times. I’m also kind of geographically-challenged. I’m constantly getting lost, so it’s something that I’m paranoid about. I took those two fears and used them as the jumping off point.”

How do you build a story that keeps people on the edge of their seats for two and a half hours straight? EW spoke with Guzikowski — who’s also created The Red Road, a six-episode TV series premiering on Sundance Channel in February that he describes as “Breaking Bad meets Twin Peaks” — for a few hints.

Click here for more of our Best of 2013 coverage. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): 'Iron Man 3' VFX artists on the Mark 42 suit design

Tony Stark is invincible — at least when it comes to the numbers for Iron Man 3, that is. A whopping $174 million at the box office opening weekend. A staggering $409 million domestically. More than $1.2 billion grossed worldwide.

But the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist character who’s appeared in five Marvel films so far was fallible in his third standalone feature, spending much of his post-Avengers time in his basement, designing prototype after prototype of his Iron Man suits to keep his mind off his near-death experience.

The most eye-popping one he built: The Mark 42 (below), which he can summon remotely in individual pieces to his body via sensors he injected under his skin.

Of course, “Tony Stark” didn’t build the suit at all; instead, 1500 visual effects artists worked on the film, and according to Chris Townsend, the film’s visual effects supervisor, at least half of them worked on the Mark 42.

“We ended up having eight [visual effects] companies throughout the world working on that particular suit,” he tells EW. “Hopefully in the end, for the audience, if we’ve done our jobs right, they’ll think from shot to shot, it looks like it’s all created by Tony Stark.”

EW talked to the minds who spearheaded the suit’s concept — the real Tony Starks, if you will — to get a breakdown of the process, from the initial idea to adding Robert Downey Jr.

Click here for more of’s Best of 2013 coverage. 

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): Evan Goldberg on how much of 'This Is The End' was improvised, his favorite moments


What happens when you lock six comedians in a house for almost the entire length of a feature film? A lot of improvisation. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg teamed up to write and direct the summer blockbuster hit This Is the End, but when Rogen, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, and Jay Baruchel were put in the same room, no script could hold them down. Not that it wanted to.

Below, co-writer/co-director Evan Goldberg reflects on some of his favorite improvised moments from the film, and talks about how the film’s retro ending — Backstreet Boys! — came about.

Click here for more of’s Best of 2013 coverage.

As told by: Evan Goldberg

On his favorite improvised moments: I’ll start with what I think was my best. I’ll always remember it because Jonah [Hill] always reminds me that it’s the hardest he’s ever laughed in his life. And in reality, what I’m about to say kind of gets less laughs than a lot of the other jokes in the movie. Every now and then you just leave one joke in for yourself and this was it —  it gets like a medium laugh, but it doesn’t kill. It’s when Jonah’s got Seth [Rogen] pinned down and he goes, “I’m going to titty-f–k you, Seth. What are they, big B’s or small C’s?” That line — “What are they, big B’s or small C’s?” — was mine. That really killed Jonah. We had to cut and wait a minute because he was laughing so hard. When Seth pushed his chest together, I thought that was incredibly funny.

My favorite improv of the movie might be when [James] Franco says, “It’s like Neapolitan ice cream” in reference to the father, son, and the holy ghost. That just kills me. I thought that was one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard.

Quite unforgettable for me was when Craig Robinson improvised — he had it pre-planned, I know, but not fully — that, “Here’s Terrence Peterson, my monkey flashlight key chain.” And they say, “What’s its name again?” “Terrence Peterson.” And then there’s a pause, and someone says something else, and he goes, “Terry Pete.” That’s just the weirdest. I don’t even know why it’s funny, but audiences love that one.

There are some Jay [Baruchel] said that are too offensive for me to repeat. That’s what I got off the top of my head. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): How 'Star Trek' used music to move you (and made you cry)

When Star Trek Into Darkness was released in May, our Sounds Like a Summer Movie series took a look at how music was used for dramatic impact — and it was used a lot. Sound mixer Will Files, who first worked with director J.J. Abrams on Cloverfield, estimates there’s music over 75 to 80 percent of the film. Once again, Abrams used longtime collaborator Michael Giacchino, who won an Oscar for scoring Up. “J.J. and Michael take a pretty classic approach to scoring a film in that it’s more about the emotional beats in a scene and trying to figure out which character’s perspective you are trying to play in that moment, who you are trying to connect the audience with,” Files said. “Because of that, you end up with something that is not quite as generically action movie-oriented. You have a score that’s much more lyrical because it’s playing these broader strokes of emotion rather than the minutia of the actual action that’s happening on the screen.”

Part of Files’ job is to change the relative balance of sound effects to music so there’s an ebb and flow and the film never feels stagnant. But SPOILER ALERT!, above all, Files is there to make sure the final mix serves the story. The first scene we wanted him to break down was Kirk’s death. (You know you cried.)

Click here for more of’s Best of 2013 coverage.

Make a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt!


Wanna make a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt? All you need is a computer and a great idea.

With hitRECord, Gordon-Levitt’s ever-evolving collaborative production company, you don’t have to start in the mail room or cut your teeth as a personal assistant. You just have to create a profile on the totally free website and start submitting your ideas, whether it’s a poem, a film, a piece of music or a drawing. Nearly all forms of art are fair game. You don’t even have to be the most popular user to catch the attention of Gordon-Levitt and his small core staff. You just have to be one of the best, which is actually a fairly big hurdle.

“I think the most important thing about anything that we make at hitRECord is ‘Is it good?'” hitRECord producer Jared Geller told EW. “At the end of the day, if the piece isn’t effective or entertaining, then it kind of doesn’t matter how it’s made. It becomes a gimmick. The method can’t be the most interesting thing about what you’re making. The piece itself has to be great.”

Check out the animated short below for an example of one of hitRECord’s most popular collaborations, and walk through the steps of how Gordon-Levitt helped turn the original poem into a Sundance Film Festival-worthy animated short, all through crowd-sourced creativity.

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