If you’re a Blu-ray or DVD collector, chances are good that you’re familiar with the name Charles de Lauzirika. The director-producer has created bonus material for huge home entertainment releases like Hannibal, Alien Quadrilogy, Alien Anthology, Kingdom of Heaven, Blade Runner, Twin Peaks and Gladiator. He’s Hollywood’s go-to guy when it comes to bringing home great behind-the-scenes and making-of pieces for some of the year’s biggest blockbusters. Fans can get a peek at his latest work on the Prometheus Blu-ray 3D (in stores now) where de Lauzirika’s three-and-a-half hour documentary The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus makes for a must-have Blu-ray package.
Movies.com recently sat down with the director-producer to discuss his work on Prometheus, working with Marc Webb, and the “death” of physical media.
Movies.com: Your documentary on the Prometheus Blu-ray 3D combo pack runs over three-and-a-half hours long. That’s crazy! What’s it like to take on such a massive project for a director like Ridley Scott?
Charles de Lauzirika: Well, you know I’ve done a few of these now for him and I’ve done a few of these mega-long documentaries as well so, for me, it was kind of just maintaining a standard that I think we started going all the way back to the Alien set, Blade Runner, Kingdom of Heaven and some of the other ones. In many ways, my goal with Prometheus was simply to create a “cousin” to the Alien Anthology set and something that could line up with those discs in terms of the layout and content. If you compare the Prometheus disc to the Alien discs, I think there are some similarities and some symmetry to the design. That’s a pretty easy guide to start with, but then of course the details is where you get to have some fun and you also run into some challenges. The other interesting side note on this is that, unlike the other Alien films, I actually got to document this one. I actually got to shoot starting over a year before production began and then actually being there on set. Covering it there and then covering it through post, I was actually the primary documentarian on this so that was a fascinating experience just from the point of view of an Alien fan, a Ridley Scott fan, and a Blu-ray producer. It was like a triple whammy.
Movies.com: How much time, overall, do you think you spent with Ridley on this? It’s everything from concept to release.
Lauzirika: I couldn’t give you a total minute count or an hour count or a day count, but I can tell you that I started in 2010 and here we are talking about it now. I didn’t have a deal with Fox and I wasn’t really sanctioned by the studio, but Ridley wanted me to start documenting and I certainly wanted to start documenting it. I started well over a year before we ever had a true conversation with Fox because I just felt that if I waited until we made it official, we were going to lose some precious material. So I just went down with my own camera on spec and started shooting. I was already building an archive. I mean, I knew that down the road we’d eventually sort it out. That didn’t concern me. I just wanted to capture all these precious moments because once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. I think back to the Alien Anthology set and the Alien Quadrilogy set when we were putting together the pieces for Alien, there was precious few minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from it and I always thought that if I only had a time machine, I could go back and cover Alien the way I would cover it now. So I got to do that with Prometheus. That was my time machine.
Movies.com: You’ve done behind-the-scenes, DVD, and Blu-ray work for basically all of Ridley’s films. Was this one the toughest?
Lauzirika: No, actually it wasn’t. In many ways, it was the most fun. It was probably the most physically challenging just because I had to be in so many places in such short order. Flying back and forth from L.A. to London and running around on set. I’m not the most in-shape person, but it kind of got me into shape I think. If you had asked me that question on day one, I would have said, “Oh, yeah. This is going to be a tough one. This is going to be really hard.” And now, looking back, it was actually one of the most fun ones because I had the access and because everyone was excited by this project. My presence was there to serve the film’s history and I wasn’t an invasive presence. I was there to start documenting this film’s legacy and line that up with what we’d done previously on the Alien set.
Movies.com: Even including the stuff outside of Ridley’s films, which one was the toughest for you to work on?
Lauzirika: That’s a tough question. I tend to forget the bad stuff. I’m sorry that I’m not giving you the headache projects. I tend to drop negative memories as soon as they’re done. [Laughs] For instance, Blade Runner was really tough because it took so long and we were off and on, working then not working, getting access to materials. It was hard. But, ultimately, when I look back that could have been far worse than it was and because it’s my favorite film I had a blast doing it so that offset any headaches that we were having. I’m blanking on the bad ones, but there were definitely a few. I will say that. There are a handful of discs that I didn’t think I was going to survive, but I have and I continue on and that’s why I don’t really freak out too much about problem projects these days. There’s always tomorrow and there will always be another disc.
Movies.com: There’s a lot of buzz on the Internet about the connection found on the Blu-ray between Prometheus and Blade Runner. Was that intentional? Did Ridley tell you to include it or was it just somebody over there having fun and being cutesy?
Lauzirika: That was me having fun and being cutesy. [Laughs] I wrote all that stuff. I actually said this at the press conference they had in London, which is that if it’s in the film, it’s canon. I would argue that the viral pieces that are included in the Peter Weyland Files are canon just because they originated with Ridley and Damon Lindelof. I would say those, to some degree, are canon. But anything else – especially these, which are kind of like little cute, embedded text graphics on the menus – I wouldn’t take those too seriously. It’s just meant to be an in-universe framework for those viral pieces. As a Blade Runner fan, and because there’s been so much talk before this even occurred with people on the Internet speculating that maybe Alien and Blade Runner and Prometheus could all exist in the same universe, it was just more of a wink at that. Absolutely nothing to be taken seriously. I mean, I sent it to Ridley and he had no comment. [Laughs] So, it’s just icing on top of icing. It’s not the cake. It’s a fun, little side thing that’s very superficial. And, by the way, it in no way officially establishes that it’s Blade Runner because, if a lawyer were to comb through that, there’s no reference to Tyrell or anything in Blade Runner. It’s just a very lightly intentioned joke.
Movies.com: Do you feel like that’s the biggest sort of “secret” or Easter egg that you’ve included in one of your releases?
Lauzirika: This isn’t even really an Easter egg. This is out in the open. You don’t even have to search it out. It’s part of the content. I think one of the biggest Easter eggs which doesn’t get a lot of mention was on the big, three-disc Gladiator DVD (and later on, the Blu-ray set) was that we had an Easter egg devoted to the sequel Gladiator 2: Blood of the Empire and we actually dropped the title and we had people talking about it. I think that was kind of unheard of to hint at an actual script that had been written for the Gladiator sequel. Having that buried as an Easter egg was fun. This bit about the potential Weyland-Tyrell Corporation tie-in actually evolved more out of Ben Procter’s story, which you see in one of the Enhancement Pods called “Merging Ridleyverses.” That is where Ridley very briefly entertained the idea that perhaps they’re in the same universe, but that was never followed through on so officially it’s still all fan speculation. I seriously doubt that’ll ever truly come to pass.
Movies.com: You’ve been doing this DVD and Blu-ray work for a long time now. Do you feel like this so-called “death of physical media” is overblown or do you feel like that everything really is shifting towards streaming and downloading? And, if so, where does that leave you?
Lauzirika: Well, I do think it’s shifting and I do think physical media is going away. Perhaps not as fast as some people think it is, but it is evolving. I do think there will always be a need for supplemental material. Whether it’s traditional behind-the-scenes footage or something new that we haven’t quite seen yet. I think there will always be a need for something that reports and documents and captures some sort of secondary experience beyond the primary one. I don’t know how it’ll affect my job other than that the delivery method will change, but the actual storytelling will, I imagine, be similar because that’s what I focus on primarily: What’s the story of the making of this film? What are the stories that came from the set? What were the challenges and how did the filmmakers overcome them? Those things will never change because that’s the process of filmmaking. If filmmaking dies then, yeah, there’s not need to do what I do, but as long as films exist I imagine there will be a need for what I do in some form – whether it’s me or someone else.
Movies.com: I see you’ve done another big documentary that’s on going to be on the Blu-ray for The Amazing Spider-Man. Is there anything you can tell us about it at all?
Lauzirika: It’s interesting because Marc Webb is an old friend of mine and we first met with him editing for me. I was directing some commercials for this rapper named Kurupt and Marc was my editor on these commercials. That was many, many years ago and I find it beautifully strange and ironic and fun that he’s gone from working for me to me working for him. And I love that, frankly. It’s been really fun watching him take off, and documenting that. He allowed me quite a bit of access as well. It’s a different sort of energy than the Prometheus documentary where it’s kind of a darker world. Whereas, Spider-Man is a little bit more fun and light and relatable, for lack of a better term. It’s a different animal, but the movie is a different animal too. The documentaries tend to follow the tone and style of the film.
Movies.com: Will we maybe get a few “secrets” on that disc too?
Lauzirika: Certainly in terms of the challenges of how they accomplished the stunts and swinging down the streets and things like that you’ll definitely learn about, but in terms of what’s next? Yeah, there might be a couple hints in there. I’m not going to say any more than that. [Laughs]
Movies.com: What’s next for you? You start working on these films very early now.
Lauzirika: After The Amazing Spider-Man, I have a few projects that I’m gearing up for. I just can’t really talk about them yet. Primarily, what I’m working on now is my own film Crave. That’s been hitting festivals and we’ve had a really great response. It’s won awards already and we’re close to a distribution deal so that’s kind of my focus right now, probably for the rest of the year, is getting Crave out to more festivals and getting it distributed. It looks like it’s going to happen sooner than I thought.
Movies.com: So who’s going to do the behind-the-scenes documentary for your film?
Lauzirika: I don’t know. It won’t be me. [Laughs] I think I’m too close to my own material. We shot every day on set so we’ve got a ton of footage and there are about 30 minutes of deleted scenes. Conceivably, you could put together an elaborate disc for Crave, but I also feel like I want the film to exist on its own and have a moment to breathe and live and find an audience before we start deconstructing every single thing about it. But when we do that, we have the material and hopefully someone will be interested in taking over for me on that because I just think it would be wrong for me to do it. Other filmmakers don’t get to tell me how to put together my documentaries so I probably shouldn’t have that power. I should have someone keep me honest. It’ll be interesting to see how I survive that process of having the tables turned on me. [Laughs]
You can see Charles de Lauzirika’s exhaustive documentary The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus on the Blu-ray 3D release of Prometheus only, which is in stores now.