Entering The Suicide Squad, writer and director James Gunn had a huge vision and knew it was imperative “to get the trust of Warner Brothers” as soon as possible, especially because he planned to keep things as practical as possible while filming, which isn’t a cheap exercise.
“We had the biggest budget for sets in Warner Brothers history,” Gunn tells Supanova.
“Saying, ‘Listen, I really plan things out, I’m not gonna spend needlessly, but I need to have these real sets and these real explosions.’ I think that it really grounds a movie like this. It’s so outrageous and makes so many crazy choices, but having that realness around you helps to make it be believable.”
The Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind knows the limits of CGI in modern filmmaking and superhero (or supervillain) endeavours and exactly when and where it should be used.
“CGI is great at some things – I couldn’t do a [character like] Weasel [practically]… I could try, but it wouldn’t be quite the same, and I definitely couldn’t do King Shark in a practical way,” he says.
“For those things, CGI works really well, but for other things, CGI isn’t great, and I don’t know why that is, but CGI is not good at explosions, CGI isn’t good at blood spurts.
“We are at a point where if you see movies today, all the people are getting shot with blood spurting out, and it’s always fake blood, and I’m like, ‘No, I want squibs.’ I know it’s a pain in the arse, because it is, it’s hard.
“On set, if when you’re having somebody get shot [with CGI], you can just do it a million times, but if you have a squib, you have to make sure it’s going to work and then if it doesn’t happen right, you have to go change their clothes, put a new squib on them, bring them back and do it again, and you can only do it so many times.
“But I thought that for the veracity of the film that we needed to do that, and I just think some things look better practically than CGI.”
Gunn has also mastered the art of blending practicality with CGI, and the film’s fortress, Jotunheim, is a perfect example of that. Its first eight stories are real and the rest is CGI.
“We got to make extensions like that with CGI that work really well, like the beach, we built the beach at the beginning [of the film],” he explains.
“It’s the size of like six football fields and we built waves and an ocean and everything and had that on the backlot in Georgia and that’s what that beachfront is at the beginning.
“It just felt necessary for the movie, and honestly, it’s really good for the actors too, because when Margot [Robbie] is running from those explosions in the beginning, they’re real explosions, and they won’t kill her, but they will get dirt in your eye.
“And I think that really adds this intensity to the performances that you wouldn’t normally have, so the more you can build things real, then when you have King Shark standing next to them, they can imagine that part of it, especially when it’s Steve [Agee], a guy wearing a big shark body.”
LEAD IMAGE: Sean Gunn, Pete Davidson, Mayling Ng, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Nathan Fillion, James Gunn, Margot Robbie, Flula Borg and Michael Rooker on the set ‘The Suicide Squad’. Image by Jessica Miglio