A quick look at The Russo Brothers’ CV suggests that the siblings should have struggled with directing the mega Marvel blockbusters that they have quickly excelled at overseeing.
Before directing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, the duo had overseen the comedies Welcome To Collinwood and You, Me and Dupree, as well as episodes of Arrested Development and Community.
So what was the biggest lesson that the pair had to learn when they transitioned from television to movies?
The Russo Brothers talk Avengers: Endgame
“The fundamental principles apply across the board. We had done a lot of VFX on Community, because it was a weird show and we were trying to push the envelope and execute things experimentally,” Joe Russo explains to Metro. “The same principles apply. You put someone in front of a green screen and then you replace the background.”
“When you’re working on a show like Community, the effects behind them is very limited because of its budget. When you’re working on a film like this there’s no limit, Thanos can rip a moon out of the sky if you want him to. But even though everything is done on a larger scale, the set is still the same. You’ve just got more toys to play with. A more refined set of tools to play with. But it’s more about [the VFX experts] doing the magic, and the thousands of thousands of work hours behind it.”
Anthony Russo insists that some directors “are better suited” to this process than others, though, especially as so much imagination is required from the filmmaker as the entire set isn’t in front of them. Instead, the Russos have to tactically figure out “what fits in the frame.”
“Our visual effects team has been so awesome about providing really great references when we’re on set. So that our cameramen and our cinematographer can really look at what the environment is, and we can really talk about how that affects our choices in terms of camera placement and lighting, etc.”
“It’s interesting because it’s definitely a different way of working. But it’s one that we really love because the creative possibilities that we have with it really means that the sky is the limit.”
These incredible technological advancements meant that the completely CGI character of Thanos, who is played by Josh Brolin in Infinity War, could display many more emotional subtleties than had “been seen or done before.”
“It was really exciting when Josh saw that on literally the first day of shooting,” says visual effects supervisor Kelly Port. “That made him more comfortable to do a subtler performance as he had discussed with the writers.”
“They’re constantly evolving,” adds Joe Russo.
But does this continued technological advancement mean that Thanos will look the same in Endgame as he did in Avengers: Infinity War?
“They won’t show it to us because we might ask for it,” jokes Russo, before Port adds, “There’s certain aspects of it that have improved for Endgame. But you have to be careful about going, ‘Oh here’s something completely new.’ Because there’s a danger of it affecting it the movie. So there are incremental improvements. But this kind of technology is progressing on a project by project basis year by year.”
Avengers: Infinity War has been nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 91st Academy Awards, which will unfold on February 24.
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