Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson: The Titans Behind 'The Adventures of Tintin'

 Joe Pugliese

In an exclusive interview in Paris, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson reveal the secrets behind their first-time working relationship and the ambitious $140 million project that brings a beloved comics character to the big screen.

You usually edit on film. How did you edit this?

Spielberg: This was my first editing on an Avid -- going to the dark side. I also cut War Horse on an Avid. You know, I have maybe 18 Moviolas [editing machines used with film]. They're all museum pieces now.

It's a surprisingly old-fashioned way of editing. Do you think of yourself as a traditionalist?

Spielberg: I do. I also think, If it was good enough for all my heroes, it's good enough for me.

What about you, Peter?

Jackson: I think of myself as being relatively old-fashioned and quite traditional. Certainly, as a person I'm like that.

Once the edit was in, what happened next?

Spielberg: Well, I went on to other projects. I'm not an animator. It takes five hours to animate each frame and there are 24 frames every second, and our film is 93 minutes long. You don't have to do the math to know that wouldn't really include me for a long time. We got re-involved when there were some final shots for approval.

Jackson: After Steven had done his first cut, there were chases and a big set-piece with an airplane in a storm that we could never capture on the motion-capture stage. We developed those when Steven was busy doing War Horse, and then after War Horse, we tag-teamed because I got involved in The Hobbit, so it all went back on Steven's lap.

Did The Hobbit interfere with this project? Guillermo del Toro was going to direct, then you stepped in at the last minute.

Jackson: It didn't really interfere because the timing was good.

Before shooting, there was a financial issue with Tintin when Universal backed out late in the game. How much did that throw a wrench in the works?

Spielberg: Whatever caused Universal to back out at the last moment, all of a sudden Paramount stepped in with Sony. We had a deal within seven days.

You were going to do the first two films back to back?

Spielberg: The studios [Sony and Paramount] were willing to do one movie with us and then give us the financial wherewithal to develop a script, do all the visual storyboards and get it really in launch position. So we can launch pretty quickly on a second movie. The script is already written.

So Peter, once you've done The Hobbit, you'll go straight to directing Tintin 2?

Jackson: Yes.

And, Steven, then you'll direct Tintin 3?

Spielberg: We haven't talked about that. But I had such a wonderful time working on this; it liberated me as a director because I was able to run around by myself. It was a big collaboration, and at the same time it was one of the most personal experiences I've had. When you can actually hold the camera and create your shots, you don't have a lighting team, a key grip, electricians …

Jackson: It's like the old days with Super-8.


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