Blade Runner 2049: Denis Villeneuve’s Impression on Roger Deakins

Audiences have been frightened of the early footage for Blade Runner 2049 Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the famous Ridley Scott movie. From the lively colors to the meticulous lighting, much of the credit has been given to 13-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins, who Villeneuve got as the director of photography on the film.

But we haven’t witness anything yet in Blade Runner 2049.

“Honestly, it’s just the tip of the iceberg”, Villeneuve claimed in a recent interview. “I don’t know what people’s reaction to the movie overall is, [but] I can say, as a filmmaker, he did one of his best works.”

“He’s done a lot of strong films, but what he did in this, for me, it’s quite special”, Villeneuve continued. “He added a new territory.”

Villeneuve depicted Deakins’ working piece that of an “impressionist painter”, in that he had the “permission to do things” that didn’t demand natural lighting. As Deakins was working in the science-fiction field, Villeneuve said he could try different attempts than in their previous movies, “Sicario” and “Prisoners.”

“He’s more of a scientist sometimes and it’s so essential for him to be precise with how the logic of light works in the shot,” Villeneuve claimed. “But in this movie, it was more playful […] because he had more space to experiment than usual, where you have to be bound to reality.”

Villeneuve said he “knew that Roger was longing to do sci-fi” and was therefore eager to welcome him onboard as soon as possible. Turns out, Villeneuve and Deakins were hired on the same day.

“Basically, I said yes to Blade Runner 2049 in the morning, and I was having dinner with Roger in the very same evening. Hearing the news, he looked at me with a little smile and said, ‘So, you want to do that?’ And I just answered, ‘Would you like to do that with me?’ And he grabbed my hand and I knew from that moment that he was completely on board.”

The director and D.P. then headed to a hotel in Montreal and spent weeks sketching the entire movie with two storyboard artists. Villeneuve claimed “dreaming what the light would look like” with Deakins was his favorite moment throughout the process.

“We drew the entire movie together,” Villeneuve continued. “It was a very precious experience because we had been challenged to fit the film in a precise budget. So was a huge cinematic creative lab to find the vocabulary of the film. It was where we discovered the Blade Runner 2049 we wanted to create.”

The duo agreed to place the film in a physical world and work with as much practical effects as possible. To do so, they made as many sets as they could, and Villeneuve credited it for a vast of ideas coming to him and Deakins on set.

“On set as we are shooting, sometimes there are very strong poetic moments that will not occur in front of a green screen, where you are bound by technical [demands]. I greatly believe in natural environments. I’m a bit old school.”

“Meaning if we were building an apartment, and there were windows in it, you would see on the other side of the window,” Villeneuve said. “We will build the other side of the streets to make the atmosphere in the streets. So Roger had top-down control of the light and its direction. Basically, most of what’s happening in the film is real.”

As of mid-July, the movie is in post-production as Villeneuve and Deakins work side-by-side fusing CGI set extensions.

“He’s still there, helping me with the effects,” Villeneuve continued, implying that his strengths lie in realism, while Deakins knows just what to execute when the futuristic setting requires innovation.

“I am in awe”, he said. “I’m so thankful because he’s so strong bringing a shot to life; to make it state of the art. It just turns out real. It’s very impressive for me just to watch his work. It’s a master level in VFX with Roger Deakins.”

Blade Runner 2049 coming to theaters October 6.

Blade Runner 2049: Denis Villeneuve’s Impression on Roger Deakins
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