A: This is a story that happens to so many girls every day. So many girls fall in love with somebody, then they leave, and they're abandoned. It's a girl's story and it shows the ignorance of a girl and maybe how the girl wants to be the victim like our Madame Butterfly. That's a big question. Should we feel sorry for her? Or should we not feel sorry for her? It's a question people always ask me in this film. In the end, she'll make a choice. It's a great opera--it's Puccini.
A: We know 3D from Transformers and Avatar. With our 3D, we wanted to create a sense of claustrophobia that you are actually in the room with the people and you feel it very much on the close-up in the beginning with Sir Christopher Lee or when she's in the small room with the butterflies.
We wanted to create this contrast and filmed everything in 3D with the Phantom Inelectra. We really didn't compromise on any scene to create the imagery we finally ended up with. We were able to work with an amazing sound team, which was part of the 3D, because it's all in Dolby Surround Sound. So that was very important for us.
A: There was one shot that you see the airplane go over the full moon. It's incredible. The plane goes up, almost vertically, and I was in the plane filming from inside the plane myself. The helicopter was under the plane, going almost vertical and we had one take. So that looks almost like CGI.
A: The cast was based on who I wanted for the role. I met Michael Nyqvist six months prior to those scenes and we were already a big production. Michael saw the first five minutes I put together and said, "Whatever I'm going to be doing, wherever I am, I want to make this film."
Sir Christopher Lee and Lady Lee are very close friends of ours. Christopher Lee said, "As long as it's all first class I'm there." For all of the other roles I wanted theater actors. I didn't want the movie to be driven by "this name is going to sell the movie."
A: This film was never supposed to be a film. It was supposed to be a contemporary art installation. But my wife and I found that the opera world is getting too old and that opera season tickets for the metropolitan or the Berlin opera or any of the big operas around the world have become too expensive for young people. It has become a world of privileged. And what we wanted to do in the beginning is a contemporary art installation in 3D, for the art world. This is how this film started. And then I had a very big accident where I almost lost my eyesight.
So we had time to start developing the idea because once we did the installation we had spent an enormous amount of money in the development work we had done. We said, "Why don't we turn this into a picture?" While I still couldn't see, we were starting to write with Anne Murray McKay and we developed the script. I appealed to the actors that we would in fact film this script and all of them said yes.
That's how the film started. It's basically, like many things, almost meant to be.
More questions on the 2014 Sundance Film Festival:
- What is it like to have your film featured at the Sundance Film Festival?
- Why should a screenwriter or filmmaker go to the Sundance Film Festival?
- How can having a film selected by the Sundance Film Festival affect your filmmaking career?