INTERVIEW: Helmer Kerry Conran Talks SKY CAPTAIN – Part 2

Continuing on with our Kerry Conran conversation Kerry gives us a little insight as to some of the little oddities that can be found in the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow if you keep your eyes open as well as what was cut and ultimately left out of the movie altogether that you may just find on the DVD edition. Plus he talks a little about his upcoming slate including the adaptation of Edgar Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars.

Can you talk about some of the things that audiences should keep their eyes open for in Sky Captain?

“Well we put things in the movie just to almost endlessly amuse ourselves in a way, it was kind of contagious fun for a bunch of spastic geeks. But even in the chamber and Totenkopf’s gallery there’s a lot of stuff in there that you would have to freeze frame through to see everything like versions of Excalibur’s sword, Medusa, we put the larval version of Mothra in the background, the holy grail, the ten commandments and that’s just in this one room, there is actually quite a bit more.

“In the city we have quite a few things, in one shot you can see something climbing up the Empire State Building. We’ll have to put together a cheat sheet one day for the DVD.”

Was the entire movie done in animatics before you started shooting?

“Yes, we spent about 10 months working out the animatics. We actually recorded the actors’ voices on read through in London and used them to animate with. That was one of the things, the actors were able to watch the film before we shot it, it was really a helpful tool.”


Can you talk about some stuff that didn’t make it into Sky Captain?

“Well there are tons! There were drafts of the script were Totenkopf is very much alive, in that regard that changes a lot of things and that was midway through the process. A lot of stuff on the island, there was a lot more that I wasn’t able to do, some scenes got cut in the script stage that I personally think would have helped explain certain things.

“One of the things I had, was on the island where I had them [Sky Captain and Polly] passing these gigantic pillars that were covering the mouth of this cave and essentially they were bars that were containing some giant creature that was inside. It was like the mouse and the lion parable where they remove the thorn and befriend the creature.

“Now this creature was a creature that Totenkopf imprisoned and it spoke in German, and I had subtitles that I wanted to use as it spoke and it was the guide that was going to take them through this jungle. So if you can imagine this giant King Kong sized creature and these two people walking side by side to it, and of course once they reach Totenkopf’s lair this gigantic, powerful beast would back away kind of in fear, not wanting to venture any further. Then of course I had the creature come back at the end of the movie as they are trying to get to the rocket ship I had swarms of machines trying to prevent them from getting inside and essentially this creature comes and sweeps them aside and hoists them up. It was a whole thing but we had to pull back and that was one of the things that got pulled back.

“I did venture into space a little bit and I took that out, and there was some notion of a Journey into the Center of the Earth kind of thing, which would have explained the whole Shangri-la.

“There were things, and they were bigger, and if we could have pulled them off it would have been great, but there’s always next time.”


Were there any deleted scenes?

“Because we approached this like an animated film there’s not a lot to throw out, but we did end up cutting one scene, and if there is a director’s cut, it will be in the movie because I think it’s needed and it was done for time and some pacing issues. It’s in Shangri-la and it’s essentially after they [Sky Captain and Polly] wake up, they’re led into a laboratory that Totenkopf built in Shangri-la and it’s there that you learn why he was in Shangri-la and really just every reason why they hiked up that mountain and I think there is some pretty valuable information that you just don’t get right now in the movie, it’s like a 30 second scene and that’s the only scene that was shot, completed and ultimately cut.”

There have been rumors about A Princess of Mars and your attachment, is there anything to that?

“Yeah, we’re moving full steam ahead on that. We don’t have a script yet, it’s early on obviously, but it’s starting. Hopefully in the next couple months we’ll start to move.”

Is it going to be in a similar style as Sky Captain?

“I think we’ll have a little more resources available this time out, sort of how Peter Jackson made Lord of the Rings, which used all the available technology, such as miniatures and all that to achieve that. I think there are certain types of images and effects that the computer isn’t suited for, and you want to use whatever the best approach is for whatever the thing you’re trying to create. So I wouldn’t say that we would want to do it remotely like we did World of Tomorrow, but absolutely we would use some of the techniques.”

What more is there to look forward to in your future?

“In truth, Princess of Mars was something that I never could have imagined even agreeing to do, or wanting to do in that regard because I really only wanted to do my own stuff.

“I’ve also started working on what intended to be the next project with a friend of mine, that I went to school with, Bob Gordon, who wrote Galaxy Quest, one of the Men in Black movies, and Lemony Snicket, and so we have our little opus that we wanted to start working on. We’re trying to do something that’s very different, but very ambitious at the same time.”

Sci-fi, action, fantasy….?

“Something like that, but not anything to do with what World of Tomorrow is about. I would hope to never duplicate this in any fashion.”


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