James Bond Screenwriter Bruce Feirstein Explores '007 Legends' With Activision Game

 

With James Bond celebrating his 50th anniversary this year, actor Daniel Craig is once again going virtual in the new Activision game 007 Legends, which debuts Tuesday on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Hollywood screenwriter Bruce Feirstein has now written more Bond games (five) than movies (three). His latest game updates stories from five classic films (Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, License to Kill and Die Another Day) with Craig playing the spy across the entire overarching story line. Players will be able to download a sixth mission, Skyfall, upon Sony Pictures’ theatrical release Nov. 9. Feirstein explains how video games are influencing Hollywood films, including the Bond movies, in this exclusive interview.

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Where did the idea for 007 Legends come from?

Because it was the 50th anniversary of James Bond, Activision and Danjaq decided that it was time to celebrate all of the movies. We also wanted to incorporate Skyfall directly into the game, which we’re doing through downloadable content. The great thing with this game is that players are able to go back and play Bond’s greatest missions over the past 50 years, including Skyfall.

Why does the game use Craig as Bond through the classic movie missions?

There have been a bunch of guys who take on the role as Bond, but Daniel is our Bond today, so it made sense to use Daniel, and Daniel’s take on the character, in all of the missions in this game.

What role have the advances in video game technology opened up when you went back and updated these key films into 007 Legends?

One of the things that changed is there’s not a lot less need for exposition. The grammar and syntax in games has had an impact on movies and they’re clearly reflected in games. The player requires a lot less storytelling because they “get it.” In the past, a film would need nine different camera shots to follow a character from sitting in a restaurant to walking across the street. Now if you’re sitting in a restaurant you can have the characters explain they need to go to London and you can cut directly to being in London. The audience doesn’t question that. Similarly, with games, you need less backstory. 

How does writing games compare to your normal Hollywood screenwriting?

As a screenwriter you’re using the same skill set. But the great thing about games is that it’s tremendously collaborative and it opens you up to this other world of thinking and storytelling and how you construct those stories. The nice thing about it is that I’m able to work on games while still doing movie and TV writing. Opening that door to games has been very instructive and very good for me as a writer to be part of that world and understand what gamers are thinking and how gamers look at stories today.

Do you consider yourself a gamer?

I would say I’m a casual gamer. I’m not hardcore.

How important is it to actually be able to play and understand games in order to write stories for games?

I think you need to understand games to write them. There’s a learning curve, just like there’s a learning curve in anything. It’s not precisely the same as film or television, but you’re using the same muscles. Gaming is an enormous business when you look at hits like Call of Duty and even Skylanders. There have been professionals making games for a long, long time and they’re not kids. They’re all people in their 30s, 40s and 50s that have grown up making games and they’re really good at it. You can bring things back from the gaming world and apply them to movies, the same way you can bring things from the movies and apply them to games.

What influence have you seen games have on Hollywood?

Games have has as much an impact on Hollywood filmmaking as MTV music videos did. What’s interesting is that no one would dispute that MTV music videos had an impact on movies because people in the movie business could turn on MTV. Despite how big the games industry is, not everyone in the movie business is looking at games. I’ve shown other screenwriters who aren’t aware of what’s being done in games and they’re completely amazed by what they’re doing with cut scenes. Sometimes I’ll be asked if I’m doing games does that mean you’re not doing movies. They don’t realize it’s much more the same than it is different.

How has working on these Bond games impacted your life?

I find with my children that among their peers -- because I have this “written by” credit at the beginning of the games – I’m a rock star to them because I’m writing games. But in 007 Legends we have Diana Rigg, Robert Davi, Richard Kiel, Judi Dench, Daniel Craig and all of these stars who were very, very excited to be in a video game. Judi has said on more than one occasion about how ... her nieces and nephews and everyone else know(s) her as from the games.  

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