Thursday, August 22, 2013

Exclusive: Director Harald Zwart talks demons, girl power and fight scenes!!

Harald holding a TMI Institute pin in Toronto. Photo by Mehek/TMI Institute

What's it like to talk to a big budget director of your fave series? Well, here's the details when I sat down with bloggers from Mundie Moms, TMI Movie News and Fangirlish as we talk with The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones director Harald Zwart. I think it is safe to say we could have chatted with Harald all day long, but here are the secrets he spilled just to us. 


Katie, Mundie Moms: The demons were freaky and we jumped twice in the movie!

Harald: The whole idea that it is good to be a little scared in these movies is ultimately what Cassie wanted. When you operate with demons and what I thought was important with the movie adaptation is to take it really seriously. I think the journey Clary goes on is an amazing journey. I lost my mother when I was 12 years and I moved out of my house at 14 and I was on my own. What was really interesting to me when I read the books was: How does a normal girl (or someone who thinks she's normal) react to first of all, to her mom being gone, but then you throw supernatural things in there. So reality isn't even what she thought it was? THAT I thought was unbelievable and I thought of "how does a girl actually deal with that?" We went really deep with Clary. We had long talks about how emotional and how serious, and I didn't want to hold back.

I really love the girl power in the whole movie. I have an 8 year old daughter and I want her to have really strong idols. I see her being exposed to a lot of not-so-favorable stuff on TV and media in general. I just want her to have a really strong image that a girl can actually find her strength, and no matter what you throw at them you can always find a way out of it. That is what is so great with Cassandra's story. So, the supernatural stuff - I can deal with that. So she's dealt with that. Then, Valentine comes and tells her the guy you've fallen in love with is not who you think he is. What? That's another reality she has to deal with. That shift of reality all of the time. How Clary crawls out of those black holes all the time is just so fascinating.

Katie, Mundie Moms: The girl power. Let's talk about Izzy.

Harald: I love Isabelle too. We had a lot of girls come in for the Izzy role. A lot of girls, who I know a lot of people would've said "She's perfect, she's got all the right features" and I was like it's NOT Isabelle. Ya know? Isabelle to me is a completely different girl. She looks super hot in the movie. But in this town, when you say oh she's hot, other criteria's come in sometimes. We looked everywhere, and we found Jemima in Paris. She's more French than British. She was just perfect. I love how she's just completely matter-of-fact. I think she's kind of the anchor of reality in this shadow-world. I absolutely adore her.

Erin, Fangirlish: How hard is it to adapt a book with a fan base like this one. Is it more pressure than other movies?

Harald: It was like re-making Karate Kid. Everyone was like "you're crazy, that's a national treasure". Now people come up to me and even say our version was even better than the original. What I always try to do is listen to my own instincts. I have to love what I do and I have to love the movie myself. I read the book and I spent a lot of time thinking 'What did the book do to me?' 'What is it in the book that I love?' and then I went out and we worked on the script, the design and everything. I just was keeping Cassandra close, on testing the waters with everything. She's been really great in understanding that 'this is Harald's choice, this is what he thinks should be in the movie'. And then she says 'fine'. And then when I've reached out to her and said I need your help on this, I don't understand, then we just talked and talked. And then I'd say 'Now I understand'. That's how we kind of shaped it along. I felt like as long as Cassandra loved what we did then I felt like she was a good representation of the fans.I didn't make one single choice where I thought, I don't like this...but the fans like it so I'm going to put it in. I never did that. I couldn't do that. That would just feel false.

Kristen, TMI Movie News: I love the music injected into the movie!

Harald: That was an homage to my father, who was a Bach enthusiast. Like I said, I moved out when I was 14 and we never really connected that much, but we connected through music. That's the only times I saw him being emotional, was when he listened to music. I thought that's a good idea for Jace, somebody who's not great at emotionally attaching himself, but through music there is at least a window into his heart. Everything my dad taught me was all about Bach and math, and how methodical. My dad is a purist, he doesn't necessarily believe in all the fru fru that the romance brought with it. He loves that its just the actual notes and the harmonies and their pure representations. That is the music that he wrote and that's how it should be played, not with interpretation. I thought that's perfect for us, ya know, cuz Jace plays piano in the movie and I just feloved the idea. How could I use this practically also, and I thought well, dogs respond to certain harmonies, what if that's the same with demons and frequencies? Once you have all these chords, and I looked at all the music Bach had written. It's a perfect pattern, it's perfectly balanced, all a plan. What we normal people think is just music, it's all really a plan.  I just put that in there and Cassandra thought it was a fun idea, and embraced that.

Katie, Mundie Moms: The crowd loved the zoom in on Bach

Harald: We were going to shoot that insert and I said there's something missing. And I took a pencil, right before the camera's went in I said 'hold on guys' and I just drew it in. I wiped it with my thumb to make it look like it was part of the painting. It gives it that kind of Da Vinci type history, right? Like this stuff has been going on, it's just hidden from us all. I just like this idea with Bach.

Harald with wife and co- exec producer Veslem√ły Ruud Zwart at LA premiere.
Photo: Amber/TMI Institute

Amber, The Mortal Institute: What was it like to create depth to the fight scenes with Jamie and Jonathan?

Harald: It was trying to make fight scenes have a meaning, other than just making fight scenes. The idea of the pentagram being crucial to Valentine and by removing a piece of it, he prevented the invasion, so Valentine was desperate to get that thing back. The rage, and the idea that Valentine is ready to kill his own son, and he's at one point almost just playing with him. He didn't have to do that, he just does it because he can. I thought, I can't just make a fight scene. You need an arc and an idea behind it.

Kristen, TMI Movie News: How much did you work with Jamie Campbell Bower?

Harald: A lot. These guys come with a lot of the right stuff already. What I do as a Director is try to create an intention behind every scene. So when the actors go on stage they know why they're there, what is the goal of the scene, why am I saying these lines? And you have to constantly tell them the subtext, I mean they get it. But you have to remind them, because they're doing little snippets of a bigger story. I have to realize the whole story. And it was really important to create a comfort zone where they would go so deep that they did. There's some really emotional stuff there. When he sees Valentine sort of take over Clary and he is completely deflated, because he's been given the bad news too, they had to go places inside themselves. So we talked a lot about how would you relate to this? I think that's why you are responding well to it, is they are really people in the movie. Not just stereotypes. We were all just in for the ride on that, I think.

Kristen, TMI Movie News: Were a lot of the jokes on-set or written in?

Harald: I just came up with them right there.That's 15 years of having a big career with comedic commercials.

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