Comic-Con 2013: Nimrod Antal and Charlotte Huggins on Metallica Through the Never
I guess Metallica probably counts as a team of superheroes by now. They’ve defeated the Sandman in song and Napster in real life, and now they have a movie at Comic-Con. Metallica Through the Never weaves a story around their concert performance. Dane DeHaan stars as Trip, Metallica’s roadie on a mission during the band’s concert. Nimrod Antal (Kontroll, Predators) directs the Imax 3D film and we got to talk to him and producer Charlotte Huggins about the film.
CraveOnline: This is great to catch up because I saw Kontroll when it came to the states, was on the set of Armored and spoke to you for Predators. Has a musical been something you were trying to do for a long time?
Nimrod Antal: You know, it wasn’t something that I was searching for per se but when the opportunity arose, I immediately felt it was an incredible opportunity. There was a band that I’ve been a huge fan of and that I’ve looked up to. There’s a format that I’ve never played with, being 3D. Having a chance to go back to the days of Kontroll and partake in the creation of the narrative was all very appealing.
How much of the film is the narrative vs. the concert?
Nimrod Antal: If I have to give you straight numbers, I would say about 1/4 of the film, 1/3.
Charlotte Huggins: It’s about 1/3 narrative.
Nimrod Antal: About 1/3 of the film is narrative but it’s something that is interwoven with the concert, one influencing the other, so I can’t really mathematically break it down.
Charlotte Huggins: Also it’s important to know that the concert is part of the narrative so it’s not exactly like when you’re in the concert, there’s no story propelling you along because the concert is part of the story.
Would you actually break up some of the performances with scenes?
Nimrod Antal: We’ve done both. We’ve done between songs, we’ve done during songs, we’ve done leading into songs, we’ve done leading out of songs. The editing process was just very loose as far as structure. It’s a little bit difficult to explain if you haven’t seen it quite yet.
Did you have a different approach to shooting the concert performances vs. the narrative scenes?
Nimrod Antal: Yes. The narrative was approached in a classic way. I preferred single cameras, and of course when we had stunts we had multiple cameras running but it was approached in a very classic narrative manner. The concert itself was very much not that. It was, at certain times, 10 cameras running on everything from wire cams to cranes to classic dollies to steadicam operators. It was just this mix of different formats as far as capturing at least movement.
Is the Imax version of the film open frame the whole movie?
Nimrod Antal: We’re widescreen. For the Imax transfer it’s going to be full for the whole movie. We’re still finishing making the film as we speak.
Which Metallica hits and classics are in their set list?
Charlotte Huggins: [Laughs]
Nimrod Antal: Every single one that you want to be there is there. All the big ones are there.
So “One,” “Sandman,” “Unforgiven”…
Nimrod Antal: Mm-hmm. “Justice,” “Battery.” It’s definitely I think the greatest hits of the greatest hits.
What else should we know about this story of Through the Never?
Nimrod Antal: The story was created through a longer process of coming up with an original idea that was based in protest but ultimately it morphed into something much grander and much more intimate. That happened after meeting with members of the band and also with members of the crew that worked for the band and seeing their passion and their love for these guys and the fact that they’re willing to really leave it all on the field. They’re willing to bend over backwards to make it happen. Seeing how those people felt for the band was also a huge inspiration. I think life started to imitate art at one point because I think we were going through a lot of challenges making the film also. We were dying a little every day to make it happen.
Charlotte Huggins: When we were first talking to them, they always said there’s five members of Metallica. There are the four band members and there are the fans. That’s something that you really learn when you go to a Metallica concert and you see the relationship of the band with their fans, particularly in the round show. The concert part of the movie takes place in a 360 arena where all the band members are walking around and interacting with the fans in a 360 stage. You really hear it, you hear the way the fans know the lyrics and the way that they understand and feel passionate about the music. Nim sort of took that initial idea of the fan and really enhanced it a lot by making him more than a fan. I think as you have said, Dan Brown was your inspiration for that. He’s their stage manager. He has such a passion for the band. Actually, most of the people that work for Metallica and around and with Metallica feel that passion for the band. So Trip embodies that. The part that Dane DeHaan plays embodies the fan, embodies the partner of Metallica.
Did you get Dane after Chronicle and before Spider-Man?
Nimrod Antal: Yes, and we found him in a stack of photos and I recognized him from Chronicle and I remember of that film, he was the thing that shined the most for me. When I saw him in our casting director’s office in a stack of photos, I immediately thought, “Wow, can we get him?” He met with us. At my first meeting with him I immediately knew I would be lucky to have him. Fortunately he felt the same and came on board.
Do you actually direct Metallica?
Nimrod Antal: No. Actually, I did direct them a little bit in the opening of the film which you’ll see but that was minimal. No, and going into it there was this always back and forth of, “Well, what do you want us to do?” “What do you guys usually do?” I was more comfortable in encouraging them to do what they do and let me just figure out a way to make it visually interesting and capture it as best I can.
Did they introduce any new tracks in the movie? Will they debut any new songs on the soundtrack?
Nimrod Antal: I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say.
Charlotte Huggins: I think that’s a question for the band and hopefully you will have that opportunity.
I think I heard there was some heat on another Predator movie coming up. Do you have first dibs on that?
Nimrod Antal: I’d love to have first dibs on that. I’ve heard other rumors since. I’ve heard that it’s a game, not even so much a film that they’re announcing, but whatever the case may be, I would be honored to do another Predators movie. I had a fun time on it. I love it. I love the monster. He’s part of my childhood and I’m proud of that film as well, so I would love to go at it again.
Whether they announce it here or not, it’s a franchise so at some point they would think about it.
Nimrod Antal: Sure, you would think. I know that there’s been a lot of changes at Fox thought since the making of that film and I don’t think the people that were there then are there now. I think there’s been some changes of late, but whoever is there, if that message gets to them, I would be more than happy to go in.
When do you expect to have a final cut on Metallica?
Nimrod Antal: The cut is done. We’re done. We’re just doing sound and grading and putting the ribbon on it.
Do you have anything lined up next?
Nimrod Antal: I have some things that I’m hoping will happen. I don’t want to jinx it quite yet.
Is Through the Never open for sequels and becoming a franchise?
Nimrod Antal: We’ve laughed about it and joked about it. Listen, the film is certainly good enough to deserve a sequel if that may be the case but yeah, we’ll see how the fans like it.
Charlotte Huggins: And we certainly left enough questions and ponderings to maybe bring our team back together again.