Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interview: '21 Jump Street' directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller

A few days ago I watched Phil Lord and Chris Miller's outrageously hilarious and entertaining 21 Jump Street - the film stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and is a buddy cop comedy that can make your face hurt with laughter.

Lord and Miller have doled out a deliciously wicked film that exudes the fresh, boisterously quirky tone of their previous movie Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs. The film releases in India this Friday, my review will be out the same day.

I had the chance to interview Lord and Miller - they talked about changing gears from animation to live action, their leads, their inspirations and their very interesting upcoming project. Embedded below is the transcript:

MF: Being a HUGE  fan of Cloudy with a chance of meatballs, I must ask you, what was the biggest challenge of shifting from animation to making a live action feature? Is there going to be a follow-up?

PL & CM: Animation is a much slower process, so you can take your time to discuss any tough decisions. With live action it came down to preparation. Going into every day we knew we would only have a limited time, so we would try to get as many options as possible since we would only get one shot at it. Fortunately we had a great creative team around us so we managed to come up with a lot of material that we could toy around with in editing.  

MF: Did you guys always plan on making both live action and animation films? Or is animation your first love? 

PL & CM: We come from a background in animation, but at the end of the day they are both just different ways to tell a story with characters you care about and hopefully make you laugh. Both certainly have their distinct advantages and limitations, but it has been a lot of fun broadening our horizons.  

MF: What was it like working with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum? 

PL & CM: The two of them are absolutely fantastic and it was so great getting to collaborate with them. They both have very different backgrounds so they were able to add their unique experiences into the film. Jonah obviously is so experienced in the comedy world and you know what he brings to the table with his improvisational skills. Then with Channing he has a much more physical background and it was amazing to see how he brought his own improvisation to the action scenes. It was great to see both of the guys learning from each other on set and expanding their own skill sets, and benefitting from the natural chemistry that arose from the friendship they developed on set. 

MF: 21 Jump Street is by far the funniest buddy cop action comedy I've seen in years. What are your favorite films from the genre?

PL & CM: We looked back at several as we were developing Jump Street. Some of the major influences were the classic ones like Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours,  but also some less well-known films such as Freebie and the Bean and the Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines movie Running Scared.  

MF: You've got a Lego movie lined up next - it does seem like a pretty radical idea. Could you give us a few details on the project and how you landed it? Is it going to be animation or live action? 

PL & CM: It is mainly going to be animated, but will have a live-action component. The interesting thing we have discovered is there is this whole library of Brick Films that exist online, where people are just going into their basements making their own stop-motion films. So we decided to adopt that spirit but just bring it to a much bigger scale. We are still developing the story and many of the designs but it has been a lot of fun and we are very happy with where it is headed.

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