Film and Television Work
Interview with Roland Emmerich
Questions have been asked for centuries about the mystery behind the Egyptian pyramids, and many theories have been presented. Now writer/director Roland Emmerich has conceived his own theory - StarGate. A theory which has captivated millions at the box office.
Roland got the idea for StarGate from a documentary he saw on TV, which discussed the theories behind the pyramids. This sparked his interest and he began an extensive study of Egyptian art and culture, eventually culling the information into a script he co-wrote with producer Dean Devlin. Emmerich admits that he studied too much, incorporating more information than needed into the original script of the film.
It took several drafts of the script to get the story right. Emmerich admits that they were a little too ambitious in the beginning, writing "End of part one" at the end of the script. They cut that out in later drafts.
Once the script was finished, Emmerich had a hard time selling it to the studios. "They could not believe anyone could shoot a film like this and be conscientious and responsible. They guessed the film would cost $100 million. I told them, 'No. I can do it for $55 million.' They did not believe me. They were not used to a director keeping to his budget."
The film finally sold and Emmerich was ready for his next challenge - the heat of Arizona desert. The average temperature was 120 degrees in the shade. Water had to be shipped in on a daily basis. When the extras were on the set, large vats of water were trucked in on dune buggies. Cast and crew alike had to wear layers of sunscreen. Salt tablets were taken to prevent dehydration. The best times to shoot were from early in the morning till 11am and from 4pm till sunset.
The crew also had to be careful with the large horse/camel like animals called Mastadges, which were actually a clydesdale horse and rider in costume. Those scenes had to be shot between 9:30 and 10am in order to avoid the intense heat.
The film took three-and-a-half months to shoot and two-and-a-half to three months to add the special effects.
When asked the ultimate question - will there be a sequel? - Emmerich responded with, "There has been plenty of talk about doing a sequel, from everyone who worked in the first one. Both James (Spader) and Kurt (Russell) are enthusiastic about the idea." Emmerich stated that the sequel will have a different angle. What that would be, he has yet to decide.
Right now he's currently working on a new science fiction film, but would not elaborate on the subject matter. "It's a secret," he said jokingly.
Emmerich sites his major influences to be David Lean, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. He likes it when the director is in charge and doesn't have to rely on others to give him permission to get the job done.
"Most important: do what you like best. Stay with what you enjoy doing. Don't take a job just because it's money or it will help your career. I like science fiction, that is what I stick with."
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