The Lost City of Z Panel Discusses Making The Film
The 54th Annual New York Film Festival came to a close with their last film The Lost City of Z. The festival gave press and audiences a treat with their screening of Amazon Studios’s next film release. After the screening, the film got really good responses from the crowd. Director James Gray and cast mates Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, and Angus Macfadyen joined the stage at the Walter Reade Theater to discuss the long process of adapting the award-winning book to the big screen and shared some funny stories about filming it.
James Gray started the conversation by mentioning his meeting with actor/producer Brad Pitt on collaborating on a new project. After reading the script, Gray said he was interested in adapting the feature due to his interest in Colonel Perry Fawcett’s story. He also described the character’s journey and that it doesn’t entirely focus on his search for Zed. Gray even mentioned having Charlie Hunnam taking the part of Fawcett after seeing his versatility as an actor. Gray mentions that the book was half about Fawcett’s trip to the Amazonian jungle while the other half focused on his life. Gray went on to say that the film is not just a biopic, but also on self-discovery and a man’s obsession with finding the lost city.
The director also talked about Sienna Miller’s character, who is the wife of Percy Fawcett. Gray said that it was important to show sympathy and humanity for her and the other characters. He said that every character in the film mattered and served a purpose in Fawcett’s life one way or another. By giving them a role in the film, Gray explained that each character has a defining moment in the film. Miller also talked about her character, saying how important it was for her to play someone who wanted to be independent in a time where it wasn’t considered normal for a woman to work the same position as a man. Sienna said that he character had to struggle in the confines of her home while waiting patiently for her husband to return.
Regarding the shoot, Gray touched on shooting the film in the jungle. He got to share some funny behind-the-scenes stories about filming with the cast despite the harsh conditions they had to endure. The director also got to speak up on having to film in a 35 mm camera as opposed to digital to give it a better cinematic experience. He got to play with different cameras before deciding to film in Kodak instead. An audience member asked Gray about whether his film was inspired by the works of Werner Herzog and other filmmakers who have made films that also dealt with the Amazon.
Sienna and Gray got to talk about the long process of getting to film the adaptation, saying it took them seven years to do so. Tom Holland, who plays Fawcett’s oldest son Jack, mentioned the training involved in preparing his character. He said he got to bond with Charlie during filming in order to cultivate the father-son relationship that their characters have. Tom said he got to learn a lot from working with Charlie on set. Angus MacFayden, who had a standout performance as James Murray, got to talk about gaining a few pounds for the role despite the rest of the cast having to lose some weight to display the conditions of their travels.
During the last few minutes of the panel, Gray got to talk a bit about working with Amazon Studios to distribute his film and the state of cinema today. He added that studios are looking to do more blockbuster films based on fantasy and superheroes rather than making great stories of extraordinary people from history. He even explained that the industry has become a blunt system and that studios should be developing films worth making.
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