Bollywoood films in many ways are more fun than American movies, says "Iron Man" stunt director Eric Oram. He believes that there has been a "noticeable leap forward" in the production value of Indian cinema, now being taken "more and more seriously" by Hollywood.
"The production value seems to be getter better and better all the time. Over the past several years, there has been a very noticeable leap forward in the production value in Bollywood films that are taken more and more seriously by Hollywood filmmakers," Oram told IANS in an exclusive email interview from Los Angeles.
Oram, who is looking forward to the third part in the enormously popular Iron Man series starring Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow, said the "kind of command of multiple genres" compacted into a single Bollywood film is quite a feat.
Directed by Shane Black, "Iron Man 3" hits Indian screens April 26.
Excerpts from the interview
Q: "Iron Man 3" is more of an action-thriller film featuring popular Marvel comic character, Iron Man. What's different this time?
A: There is a big difference in story and in tone with IM3 than in the first two films. In IM1, we saw the rise of Iron Man. Tony is transformed into a more honest, likeable character than when he began.
In the second film, we saw the reaction and response to his rise. And though Tony manages to keep his tongue in cheek approach to saving the world intact, he is in fact challenged and humbled by his experience.
In this film, we see how being that Hero has taken a huge toll on Tony and on those around him. And that's only the beginning...This is ultimately, in my opinion, not so much a film about "Iron Man", but a story about the man behind the Iron Mask, Tony Stark. It is about how he has to come out from hiding (behind the Iron Shield), and not just face his enemies, but himself.
Q: How challenging is it to train actors?
A: The challenge of training most actors is time. Depending on the demands of the character, a given scene, or a given shot, we are usually racing against the clock from the word go. That said, every single actor is different and brings a unique set of strengths and weaknesses into the process. It is our (the stunt department's) job to hide those weaknesses, and showcase those strengths...
Q: How do you control or manage the fear factor among actors?
A: Fear management among actors is a rather layered process. Because most actors are not trained fighters or stunt performers, they have to appear to be, and they must do so, again, in a very short amount of time. This can be very daunting, even for the most flexible of egos.I feel the core of my job is to help the actors feel confident...
Q: Advanced technology and equipment have helped improve shooting stunt-scenes. Can you comment on that?
A: Certainly there have been many leaps forward in film technology, and in the equipment we use in creating action, that have made it a lot easier to design and develop stunt sequences... That said, when a stunt or fight is done practically, it has a certain look to it that, in my opinion, is still better than what a computer can create... As a result, our goal on "IM3" was to do every possible stunt and fight practically if we at all possibly could. Only if it was absolutely necessary, would we turn it into a green screen shot.
On the other hand, the more realistic and practical the stunt or fight, the more it increases the chances of the actor getting injured.. So, ultimately, the goal is to find the balance between what we can get away with doing for real, and what needs to be done with CGI.
Q: Hollywood has influenced Bollywood in a big way when it comes to action and adventure. What do you have to say about Bollywood films?
A: They are very different than most American films, but in many ways much more fun! They don't seem to take themselves as seriously as "Hollywood" films do. They can gracefully flow from a really intense and dramatic action sequence one minute, into a musical song and dance number the next. That kind of command of multiple genres compacted into a single film is quite a feat!
Furthermore, the production value seems to be getting better and better all the time. Over the past several years, there has been a very noticeable leap forward in the production value in Bollywood films, and are taken more and more seriously by Hollywood filmmakers. In fact, the stunt coordinator on IM3, Markos Rounthwaite, was the action director for the recent hit, "Ek Tha Tiger," before returning to Hollywood to work with us on IM3!