Villeneuve Sprinting to Finish ‘Dune’ in Quarantine, Pandemic ‘Crushed My Schedule’

Denis Villeneuve says it's been difficult to replicate the editing room virtually while he's stuck in Montreal and his crew is in LA.
Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” is still on track for a December 18 release later this year from Warner Bros., but it’s a barrel to the finish line according to the director. In a new Montreal-based interview promoting the Shanghai International Film Festival, Villeneuve spoke about how the pandemic has “crushed” the movie’s editing schedule. While production mostly wrapped before the quarantine hit, Villeneuve had been planning reshoots that were ultimately challenged by the shutdown of filming. Check out the video below.

“I was planning to go back and shoot some elements later because I wanted to readjust the movie. I needed time. At the time I didn’t know that it would be a pandemic…as we were about to go back to do those elements,” he said. “The impact was that it crushed my schedule right now. It will be a sprint to finish the movie on time right now, because we were allowed to go back to shoot those elements in a few weeks…it meant also that I have to finish some elements of the movie, like VFX and the editing, being in Montreal as my crew stayed in Los Angeles.”

Villeneuve also said the biggest hurdle in getting “Dune” out of the gate remotely has been the edit. “As a director there are things that can be done remotely to deal with technology. The supervision of VFX with some equipment is easy to do from afar but, editing, for me, the big lesson from this is I thought it would be possible to edit at a distance,” he said. “With my editor [Joe Walker] sharing equipment, being afar from the [one another], but I realize how much editing is like playing music with someone and you need to be in the same room. There’s something about the interaction, human interaction, the spontaneity, the energy in the room. I really miss not being in the same room as my editor….it’s very, very painful.”

Walker has worked with Villeneuve dating back to 2015’s “Sicario,” and with “Arrival,” “Blade Runner 2049,” and now “Dune,” they’ve created a close collaboration that Villeneuve said can’t be replicated virtually. “Maybe one of the reasons is that the editor is someone…is also a psychiatrist,” he said. “He’s the only dealing with my OCD and my panic attacks and my fears, and receives my joys. In the future, if something like that ever happens again, I will definitely make sure my editor is close to me.”

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