Marc Webb Director of 500 Days Of Summer Interview

Posted in interview by flicksandbits on September 8, 2009

500 Days Of Summer is a story of boy meets girl, begins the wry, probing narrator of (500) Days of Summer, and with that the film takes off at breakneck speed into a funny, true-to-life and unique dissection of the unruly and unpredictable year-and-a-half of one young man’s no-holds-barred love affair.

Tom, the boy, still believes, even in this cynical modern world, in the notion of a transforming, cosmically destined, lightning-strikes-once kind of love. Summer, the girl, doesn’t. Not at all. But that doesn’t stop Tom from going after her, again and again, like a modern Don Quixote, with all his might and courage. Suddenly, Tom is in love not just with a lovely, witty, intelligent woman – not that he minds any of that — but with the very idea of Summer, the very idea of a love that still has the power to shock the heart and stop the world.

To be honest I have never been a fan of romantic comedies, along with skinny jeans, emo’s and the BNP they are one of my most hated things in the world, yet after watching the film I have to say (500) Days Of Summer is one of the best films I`ve seen this year, it is a very original and unconventional romantic comedy that men can actually appreciate. I recently caught up with the Director Marc Webb, belows what happened!

Its very rare to have a romantic comedy men actually like and one from a guys point if view

Marc Webb: (Laughs) Thanks, to me it was less about the guys point of view, it was more of a persons point of view, a lot of times with these sort of films they show both points of view. It was more of his naïve approach to love, maybe its not as sophisticated as it should be and there’s a consequence to that, that’s what I identified with, there was a time in my life, when I was very much in his shoes (laughs)

Would you say he was more naïve than innocent?

Marc Webb: Both I’d say, he bears some culpability I think that there’s a selfishness he approaches love with, but its so identifiable, we’ve all been there, I can symphonise.

I think that’s why a lot of guys seem to be relating to it, how important was it to get someone like Joey for the part because he is perfect?

Marc Webb: I met with a lot of actors, but he was the first one to get underneath it, the first time I met him, he asked why am I making this movie, and nobody had asked me that question before, I thought that’s a simple stupidly obvious question that’s great. We had a really good discussion that most of the films involved in romance have false hopes of love, especially for guys, who are often the sub plot, like with Hitch for example, there’s some really interesting things Will Smith is saying in the film and his charisma carries it, but the message if you wax your back and you learn to dance your gonna marry a super model, is fucking bullshit (laughs) its very reductive and hurtful, its very seductive to look like that but it’s false, so we wanted to play with a character that thought them sort of things and we had to subvert those things but without being cynical.

The films very honest.

Marc Webb: Yeah but I do know people who have actually found their girlfriend in High School when they were 17, I can think of three examples, they probably wouldn’t get the film so much. It probably wasn’t as emotionally resonate with them. But god bless them if their that lucky (laughs)

The chemistry was very strong between Zooey and Joeseph how did you know they would hit it off so well?

Marc Webb: I wasn’t a hundred percent sure they would be great, we didn’t read them together, but I had seen them in Manic together, I met Joey and we were talking about who should play Summer, he said a couple people then he had a look in his eye and said Zooey, she’s got this energy, I knew through the look in his eye I could hang the movie on that. He got depressed though and said nobody will make a film with just us two because we’re not big enough stars, but one of the benefits of doing a film with such a small budget is that you don’t have to stuff a star into it. They’ve known each other and they respect each other which was so important, the engine of these sort of movies is the characters chemistry. They are great actors, Joey uses his physicality so well, we took away lines from the film while editing just because his body said all that needed to be said

(500) Days Of Summer is very unconventional, you know people love to categorise everything, how would you categorise it?

Marc Webb: The best way of categorising it is as a coming of age story masquerading as a romantic comedy, a love story implies certain things we wanted to side step. The same piece of information can look very different to someone else, like in The Graduate.

Was The Graduate one of the inspirations?

Marc Webb: Yeah its one of them movies that when I watched it with my Dad as a kid, I suddenly sensed something deeper going on relative to the cartoons I was watching, there was something powerful that at the time I didn’t understand, there’s was something going on underneath it. Another thing with The Graduate in that it was like a cousin to our film was that it was from Benjamin Braddocks (Dustin Hoffman) point of view, there’s shots looking from his eyes, Mike Nichols put the audience in his shoes, which is what we tried to do with Tom, we wanted the audience to exclusively see it from his point of view

I haven’t seen much movies like yours and The Graduate that have seen things from a male point of view?

Marc Webb: There’s been a couple, High Fidelity done it, there’s been a couple, we definitely looked at films that came from a lone perspective, a weird reference we used was Children Of Men, which I think was a brilliant movie, Alfonso Cuaron (The Director) almost put a tether on the camera and attached it to Clive Owen, like with the scene that Michael Caine is getting shot ,your very restricted because you see it from Clive Owens point of view, you want to reach out and stop it, any other Director would have put the camera under Michael Caine and done a slow motion shot (laughs) but he never, you have a very powerful connection with that character because of that, I remember watching that film while we were developing the script, it was textbook in point of view filming, which is a really powerful code. So many questions you have before shooting the movie, where’s the camera gonna be, how am I gonna do it, if you have some code it really helps to unlock them problems.

With the soundtrack did you always have the songs in mind?

Marc Webb: Yeah that was key, we were very careful, it allowed us to architecture everything, it was great because the music and some of the lines in the songs we used said things we couldn’t say dialogue wise, we tried to have the lyrics comment on the scene, you can say something explicitly through lyrics with melody that you can only say contextually in the scene, in the Ikea scene, The Doves sing, There Goes The Fear, it fits perfectly, if Joe said the lyrics it would sound stupid (laughs). You can do it with melody and it fits, we wanted the lyrics to comment on it.

What have you got lined up next?

Marc Webb: Nothings in cement at the moment but the guys who wrote this are adapting a novel called Spectacular Now which we are working on, that hopefully will happen, theres a bunch of stuff in the hopper.

(500) Days Of Summer is in cinemas now!

Words: Matthew Power


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