Joel Silver's Whiteout rides digital storm

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LOS ANGELES—The world of filmmaking keeps changing, and producer Joel Silver has changed with it. Silver started out making action films like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon and their sequels, and then he explored the potential of computer graphics with three Matrix movies. In an L.A. hotel room, he says that in recent years he has looked for screenplays that audiences may already be familiar with and that would be a good match with new technologies. He says his latest production, Whiteout—which tells the story of Antarctic-based U.S. air force personnel who discover that there may be a killer among them—would not be the same film had it been made before the visual-effects revolution. The movie, which was shot in rural Manitoba and Montreal, opens on September 11.

“We really worked hard to make you feel like you were in Antarctica,” he says. “In fact, I don’t think that this film would have been possible without the computer-graphics work we do today. The fact that in the middle of these terrible storms you can actually see the people and not see anything else is all due to the technology today. I made Die Hard 2 20 years ago, and you had to have snow and it was difficult to do. We were chasing snow around the world, and it was a complicated way of making a picture. In this one, we did have some harsh environments [on location], but a lot of it was created in a way that you could believe what you were seeing. You believed you were watching these characters living in this environment, which, I think, is what makes the film original and unique.”


Watch the trailer for Whiteout.

Silver doesn’t want to stop at CGI. He says that if filmmakers are really serious about bringing audiences into movie theatres, they are going to have to consider making more movies in 3-D. Although he admits that won’t happen as long as most theatres are unable to show 3-D prints, he says that most of the bigger films that are being made would look better in 3-D.

“There are a couple of things we are developing that we would like to do in 3-D,” he says. “I don’t think all films should be in 3-D, but I think films that fit into that format should be done that way. Right now there are still fewer 3-D houses than 2-D houses, but if the day comes when there are the same number of each, I might change my mind. I have seen the 3-D presentation of [James Cameron’s upcoming film] Avatar, and I think it is great. It’s just another tool in the arsenal of the filmmaker to make something great and unique. Our company [Dark Castle Entertainment] is currently working on developing a remake of Swamp Thing, which is a film we have had for a long time, and we think it might work. There are a couple of things that would work for us, but not everything.”

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