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McG on Terminator Salvation

Published May 18, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins Poster Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins
McG is a distinct stylist, but he’s not trying to be an auteur. He welcomes feedback, from collaborators and fans. Terminator Salvation is a McG film, but he made it for all of us.

McG on Terminator Salvation


“Listen, filmmaking is always about being nimble and adapting and doing what's right,” McG said. “You never stop working on the script and you never stop working on the film. My style is a style of doing a great deal of listening. You guys were at that early screening I think that was average. You saw some of the potential, but it certainly didn’t reflect the finished picture. I had to do a great deal of listening and amend the picture to a great deal to get it to where I think it is today. So it’s an ongoing process.”

Still, it’s ultimately up to McG to get it done. That’s not easy on any film, particularly a post-apocalyptic killer robot sequel. “You went to the desert, right? It’s a pretty brutal place, I scouted Budapest and it was too comfortable, it was rolling in green and I swear I could hear people from The Sound of Music everywhere. I wanted to feel like a David Lean picture where the duress showed up on the celluloid. So that was very difficult and then with two studios, it was kind of interested and the actors and a moving target of a script. All movies are difficult. It’s just alchemy. You keep working it until get it to a place where you feel good about it and I’m very pleased with what we ended up as a picture.”



One of McG’s own touches is trying to present the action in a relentless way. “Most particularly, what we try to do is lock the film in a way when we never cut. If you look at the picture, that whole sequence where Moon’s character and Sam go running out of the minefield, it’s a two-three minute shot, no cuts. It’s hard to do in an action picture. Connor coming out of the hole at the top of the picture, comes, sees a dead Terry Crews, looks at a ship going up, gets in the helicopter, the camera goes with him up in the helicopter, the helicopter is blown out of the sky, crashes, crawls out, sees a mushroom cloud, interrupted by T-600. No cuts.”

Of course in real life, all that couldn’t be done in one shot. “It was a great many takes seamed together, like Hitchcock would do in Rope, where we’re hiding it, but you get my drift, they takes a great deal of planning and blocking and coordinating so you don’t just say: We’re going to shoot a gang of footage and we’ll cut it together and that’s going to inject a sense of action and it’s going to feel great in the cutting room. I take a great deal of pride in doing that level of pre-visualization, blocking and working and having actors who are willing to be a part of it, to a degree, they went out there and got their boots dirty and we talked about exactly what we were going to do. The same thing with the scene where Marcus and Star and Kyle come out of the 7-11, the camera stays in the shot for a very, very long time before we’re done.”

Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins opens to theaters on May 22nd.

For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins Movie Page.


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Fred Topel
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