"I think that between the companies, we are all trying to raise the bar and Gravity, as a movie, has raised the bar higher than it's been raised in years." This is quite evident, as a lot of this has bled out into their work in advertising. Take the Galaxy chocolate advert with Audrey Hepburn. Two body doubles were used and one digitally rendered face of Miss Hepburn, which was based on actual photographs, which leads to an interesting development, which I will mention later. "Everybody is saying that it's the most innovative film that's been made, on so many levels. Not just because the lighting, cameras, the amount of animation and photorealistic imagery. Our competition is made up of people that worked on Gravity might move next week to a project by another competitor down the road, there is a sharing of technology and techniques amongst the community and that's good for British filmmaking as an industry, means we all raise the bar together."
That's the British film industry, but what about elsewhere? India, for instance? "They are a poor country, but they have a big move making industry. That's because movies are a great escape, a cheap form of entertainment. Hollywood has invested a lot in Bollywoo, there's a lot of money going there." However, the Indian film industry is bigger than Bollywood, if you factor in the Tamil and Gudjerati film industries. Being the back office of the world, it only seems that this would go into their industries and areas, as McGee points out: "We're looking to India to help us outsource". If you think it's because of cheap labour, McGee tells you to think again: "No, not cheap labour, but outsource the vast amount of work we need to produce. Doing it cheaply is not, as we've learned in the past, doesn't mean that you get the best quality. We need to get a balance between getting our overheads down, but the work you see has to be of the highest possible calibre."
With new trends like Oculus Rift, we're on a cusp of seeing new storytelling that's non linear. If you remember the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books, you'll get what I'm talking about. You can choose different perspectives and plot lines by panning across to different parts of the screen. McGee is really excited about this: " It has applications already in the gaming industry, you can run around in worlds, you can walk around the room and shoot people up, you can sit in the car and drive it for real. Everywhere you look, it's an immersive experience. Sony have brought out a VR headset that's wireless and people are making them out of bits of card and their telephone."
This was a revelation, which reminded me of something I came up with when trying my hand as a street fundraiser (which didn't work out). Namely using the WWf's cheap binoculars as a stereoscope for an iPhone. "A DIY Oculus. Get some granny magnifiers from a chemist, and some card for the split between the left eye and the right eye images. Stereoscopic video." Would this lead to a revolution in special effects? "I think it throws up all sorts of opportunities, one would be that you could meet your friends for a telephone call, put the headset on and use it as a telecom device. You could meet your friends in a virtual place, or in a real place. If you have 360* camera, put it in Times Square, then you put your headset on here, meet your friend in Australia, your friend in France, and have the conversation in Times Square." I even thought transport would be obsolete. McGee laughed at the idea: "I don't think that you sitting in your armchair at home is the same experience as travelling and smelling other cities."
That's one development, but now the one I have been keeping under wraps, which is the Audrey Hepburn advert previously pointed to. Many movie stars are now future proofing their image rights so they appear in films twenty years after they die, which is somewhat macabre, as they're being digitally scanned to appear in future films.
When confronted with this almost Frankensteinian prospect, McGee asks: "Do you want to see your favourite actor or singer performing today?" I did feel it was somewhat necrophilic. "Well, to me as a fan, I use the Michael Jackson analogy. I like the young Michael Jackson in his heyday, so if I could see a concert now that was put on with a performer. If you go see a look alike band or a soundalike band, it's the same experience. You're going along and enjoying Beatles music played by guys dressed up as The Beatles, but what if you could've the real Beatles, what's the difference?"
The thought of a horror film featuring a zombie Jimmy Savile leaves me cold, even for the fact he was a talentless hack alone. Think of the kids' brains! No, don't think of the kids' brains, they smell too fishy. " That's the trick, balancing the essence of the performer." If it was GG Allin, then who would pay to see a reanimated corpse do what he didn't do in real life: blow his brains out on stage? Well, I'll give the last word to Mike McGee: "The less awards we win, the better. No one knows we've done it."