Quint chats with producer Dean Devlin about FLYBOYS, ISOBAR, GHOSTING and the STARGATE sequels!!!
Published at: Aug. 22, 2006, 5:28 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a rather fun interview I did with Dean Devlin at Comic-Con last month, where he showed some sequences from FLYBOYS, a WW1 air-battle film he produced. I can't say anything about the drama, but the dogfights they showed us at the Con were really fun. Below you'll see us talk about FLYBOYS and WW1 history as well as ISOBAR, a real interesting film called GHOSTING and the sequels to STARGATE. Tons of goodies below, squirts! Enjoy!!!
QUINT: I have to say I'm looking forward to seeing a good dog fight flick. We don't often get WW1 air battle films...
DEAN DEVLIN: This is the first in 40 years. The first World War 1 (air battle film) since BLUE MAX. It's so hard to get anything original done. That's why we did this independently. I mean, this is done without any studio. We did this completely independently, raised all the money without domestic (distribution) in place, without foreign (distribution) in place and we did it because there was no studio that was going to do something original anymore. I mean, not at the cost of $30 million.
QUINT: I don't know much about the movie besides what is in the trailer. Can you tell me a little about the film?
DEAN DEVLIN: It's based on the true story of Lafayette Escadrille. Now, who these guys were... It was 30 American boys who volunteered to fight for France in World War 1 before the United States entered the war, and they became the first fighter pilots. The airplane had only been invented 11 years earlier and suddenly now they're using it as a war machine. Most people had never even seen an airplane, let alone flown one. Suddenly they were in combat. It was an incredible group of people.
Their mascot was a lion, that they had runnin' around. They were not issued parachutes because they were told that the airplanes were more valuable than the pilots and they were afraid that the pilots might bale out if they got scared. They gave you a pistol with one bullet in it because if your plane caught on fire, it was better to shoot yourself in the head... And the life expectancy of a pilot was 4 to 6 weeks.
So, it was a really exciting and amazing (time). We wanted to tell their story. In fact, the real interesting part of that was... of the group, one of them was an African American and he became an Ace, but when United States entered the war he said, "I have to, obviously, go fight on behalf of the US now," but they wouldn't let him fly because he was Black.
QUINT: That's nuts, man. What attracted you most to the film? The opportunity to show vintage warfare or was it more the human element?
DEAN DEVLIN: Well, it was a combination. I always think that someone who volunteers for someone else's battle is interesting to begin with. You're not being told by the government that you have to do this, they're not doing it to save their own country... they're doing it for other reasons. Some over principal, some simply to learn how to fly, some it just seemed cool, some of 'em to run away from the law. I'm always in stories like that on the human level.
But on the other side of it was... You know... for many, many years I was told, "You can't make a pirate movie. Pirate movies suck. They die. No one wants to see them. That was something that was cool in the '50s, but now... forget it." And then, obviously, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN comes out and completely revives the genre and I have the same feeling about World War 1 dogfight movies. This was something that, when I was a little boy, people still had fond memories of. People remembered WINGS, which was the first film ever to win an Oscar, HELL'S ANGELS... and somehow the genre died. And if you talked to a studio executive they'd say, "Well, no one cares about WW1, no one cares about those airplanes. They want to see fast jets. They want to see rockets." And I thought, "You've forgotten how cool the genre is!"
So, we wanted to bring it back. We wanted to bring back how amazing these dogfights were.
QUINT: Well, that was one of my favorite aspects of the KONG remake was seeing the aerial action at the end with the biplanes...
DEAN DEVLIN: Those are '30s biplanes! These are 1917 biplanes, so these guys... When they first went up in the air, they actually shot off their own propellers. So, then later the French came up with the brilliant idea of making the propellers out of metal, so that it wouldn't shoot off the propeller, but every 3rd bullet would ricochet back at the pilot! It wasn't really until this one French engineer came up with this idea that he patterned off the movie projector, of how you can coordinate the slides of frame. He figured he could coordinate the blades with the gun and they made one plane, he had the prototype. It got shot down. The Germans got it and got the technology and they mass-produced it. They had the first guns that could actually shoot and they dominated the war for a long time.
QUINT: I remember watching a MAIL CALL with R. Lee Ermy where he went in detail on the inner-workings of this technology. Really fascinating... I love that kind of stuff. The computers and microchips of modern battle aren't as interesting to me as the mechanical ingenuity of the early weapons.
DEAN DEVLIN: Well, the thing is... These guys knew the names of the guys they fought. They'd come back and go, "Oh, I fought Baron Von Richtofen!" They had a code of honor of when you shoot and when you don't shoot. It was really interesting because in the air you had this kind of gentlemen's war, yet on the ground you had mustard gas, 9 million people killed... It's really interesting. You had modern warfare developing on the ground while you had this kind of chivalrous thing happening in the air, so it made for a really interesting dichotomy.
QUINT: What do you think the biggest hook for the audiences will be?
DEAN DEVLIN: I think the air battles because even in the best of the old movies they could only do what was safe. I think (Howard) Hughes pushed the limit the most and he lost 3 pilots doing it, but the truth is... in these real battles more people died from collisions than died from bullets. They flew incredibly close. They were incredible cowboys. So only now, being able to mix real airplanes with CG, can we actually show the way it really was.
I saw a web-blogger the other day complaining about our trailer saying "They have a guy running on top of a Zeppelin!" Well, the truth is, in WW1, they had gunners on the top of the Zeppelins, but they weren't in some station, protected. They were literally standing on the top with a little railing that they held on to and a machine gun. That's how crazy it was then!
The interesting thing is to see how these incredibly flimsy planes were flown by incredible daredevils and what they did and accomplished.
QUINT: What do you have coming up next? I heard you were going to direct a film...
DEAN DEVLIN: First I'm going to produce the third installment of LIBRARIAN and we're producing a big science fiction film called ISOBAR, but right after that I'm going to direct a film next year called GHOSTING. It's about a group of cops who flatline in order to do investigations from the other side.
QUINT: That sounds really cool!
DEAN DEVLIN: It's a bunch of cops who die for a living. (laughs)
QUINT: For those who might not know the story of ISOBAR, could you give us a little rundown?
DEAN DEVLIN: Roland Emmerich originally came to the US from Germany in 1990 to do a film
called ISOBAR. It's an amazing Science Fiction adventure that takes place
in a world that has so destroyed it's environment that there is no longer
any oxygen on the planet's surface and all cities now exist beneath the
surface of the Earth. Without air, air travel is impossible. So
underground trains is the only means of travel. This story takes place on
the debut voyage of the world first five story luxury liner underground
train ride from Los Angeles to Tokyo. But a stow-a-way on board threatens
the entire adventure.
Roland and I re-wrote the script back in 1990 but the film never got made.
Over the last couple of years, I've managed to get the project back and have
been developing a new draft of the script. We hope to be shooting by
January next year. We're all really excited about the project.
QUINT: You mentioned on the panel that you finally have the rights back to make sequels to STARGATE. What was holding the rights up?
DEAN DEVLIN: It's not that the rights have cleared up. The previous regimes at MGM have
been very wary about doing the sequel movies. There's a new group of people
running MGM now and they're all big science fiction fans. So I've been
talking about doing the sequels with them. There is no deal in place yet to
make these films and we're only in the very early stages of discussion. But
at least there seems to be genuine interest in continuing the franchise.
QUINT: Will the second film pick up with the same characters from the original, continuing that story?
DEAN DEVLIN: When Roland and I developed the original STARGATE film, we had always
envisioned it as the first of a trilogy of movies. There was a larger
mythology to tell and we've always wanted to finish telling the story we
The sequel would take place about 12 years after the original and would pick
up with Daniel making a discovery that leads him back to Earth and the
discovery of a new and different Stargate!
QUINT: Where are you currently with the development of the sequels?
DEAN DEVLIN: At the moment, we're only in discussions about the possibilities of doing
QUINT: What's your favorite dirty joke?
DEAN DEVLIN: My favorite dirty joke? It's a little long...
QUINT: That's fine.
DEAN DEVLIN: Okay, here's my favorite dirty joke: A little boy comes down stairs to go to school. His mother says, "Look, I can't drive today, you have to walk." He goes, "Mooooommm!" She says, "You have to walk!" So, as he's walking to school he sees a naked woman standing in the window of her house. She's rubbing her breasts and going, "I want a man! I want a man! I want a maaaannnn!" The kid can't believe it. He can not believe it.
Next day he comes down stairs to go to school. His mom goes, "C'mon! Hop in the car." He goes, "No, ma. I think this walking is good for me. I'm gonna walk." He walks down the street and sure enough, same naked woman in her window, rubbing her breasts saying, "I want a man! I want a man! I want a maaaannn! The kid's just blown away.
The third day, his mom goes, "You want to..." He says, "No, no, mom, I'm walkin'." So, he walks to school, but this time the naked woman is in the window with a naked man and they're making mad, passionate love. The kid can't believe it! He drops his books and he runs back home and he runs up to his bedroom and he pulls open the window and he takes off all his clothes and starts rubbing his chest and he goes, "I want a bike! I want a bike! I want a biiiiikkkkeee!"
I had a real good time talking to Devlin. He seems to really get the geeks and doesn't give off a self-important vibe that you'll sometimes feel with people in the industry, especially producers. His enthusiasm for all the projects he mentions were totally authentic and listening to someone that enthusiastic only got me to feel that way as well. I hope you enjoyed the chat. Still have tons more coming in the near future!