About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Studios Home
June 2007
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER: An Interview with Director Tim Story

FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER: An Interview with Director Tim Story
By Wilson Morales

June 4, 2007

When Tim Story was first attached to direct “Fantastic Four” in 2004, most of the world had not known who he was, despite the fact that he was successful with his first film, “Barbershop”. “Barbershop” would itself become a franchise but Story wasn’t part of it. Fighting off negative reviews, when FF came out and blew up the box office with over $150 million domestically, a sequel was all but guaranteed. Story had put his name right up there with F. Gary Gray, John Singleton, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Antoine Fuqua as one of the few Black directors who can do well with a big studio film. Nevertheless, once the sequel was greenlit, the fans of the comic book wanted to know what would be next in the series and with the help of the producers, mainly comic book maven Avi Arad, the introduction of the Silver Surfer sparked excitement, hence the title, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”. Not only has he brought in a character so revered, but Story has Lawrence Fishburne to be his voice. Talk about amazing casting! Everyone’s back including the addition of Andre Braugher as a general in the film. That’s two new heavyweights worth seeing/ hearing on the big screen. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Story talks about the making of the sequel, the casting of newcomers, and what the future holds for the franchise.

How long did it after the success of the first film to come up with a story that the fans would want to see?

Tim Story: You know what, it didn’t take any time you can’t help but when you have material like this, to think about, in the event the first movie did well, what would be the next story; and then we started throwing characters and the materials sort of writes itself, which is more good than bad. You know what will be cool. It will be cool to have this person in there and we knew from the start that it would be cool to have Silver Surfer in there, and at the time, Fox, luckily owned both material, or controlled both material but hadn’t figured out how to do a Silver Surfer movie. We knew immediately that we could use Silver Surfer in this film just like we knew we could use Dr. Doom in the first one. I actually thought we would use Silver Surfer in the third film, but we also have other characters like the Puppet Master and other ones that you go to next because of how they are connected to the popularity in the comics. So that idea was talked about before the movie came out and once they pulled the trigger about a month after the first movie came out, we knew that was the best way to go.

Not many directors or actors have a myspace account where they can get feedback from fans without studio involvement. How satisfying has it been for you to communicate with the die-hards of the comic book?

TS: It’s so weird. At the end of the day, you are just making this movie, and first I’m making it because I want to see it, and second, you’re making it for the fans. You’re not making it for critics. You’re not making it for anyone else. To be able to have the one to one… it could have its bad things about it. Sometime you can take too many of the comments literally and it gets in your head, but if you can keep from getting into all that, it’s great to talk to the fans and hear what they say. We were even able to test the idea of what the name of the film was going to be. I started saying “What do you think the name of the film should be?” and people just started out ideas and “Rise of the Silver Surfer” was something we were talking about in the studio and then when I started hearing people saying that without me saying it, I was like “Wow!”. It’s great to have that sort of feedback in such a franchise that is based on fan support.

The film has a whole new look from the first one. What was the decision behind changing the production design team with Kurt Petruccelli?

TS: I wanted to mature everything about the film, storywise, the characters; and also the photography, the production design was key to me. I wanted it to be a little bit more real. With the first film there were a lot of things that looked a little cartoony and I wanted to go for a real world, even though the backstory is going to be something that’s a bit “out there”. I wanted the rest of the film to be approachable where you can say, “Oh, I’ve seen that before”. I think what’s most interesting about these types of movies is that these characters live in a world that you are familiar with. If they were in a total alien world, and you don’t know the alien world, you really couldn’t get into it as much as you would, but when you have been walking down the same street as anybody else, and certain worlds are designed like something that you would see, I think it just makes it a little bit more accessible, so I wanted to mature the film and make it a little bit real world if that’s a term, and Kirk was able to connect the real world with a fantasy world that obviously we have to bring to the production.

What about the special effects to Silver Surfer and Galactus?

TS: We’ve done some upgrades. This time we’ve been able to work with some of the better houses. They are not doing everything, but we have about three houses on the movie, and WETA is of course an Academy award winning effects house and the new superheroes of video effects. They’re doing our stuff and it’s makes a big difference because you have a lot of artists that are down the cubicle from one another who can work with one another and make the shots look a little more cohesive and just work together a little bit more. What is great about it is that they can crank out a few more shots because even to this day we are still designing shots for the film, and to be able to design the shot for them to turn it around quickly and make it work is pretty incredible. We’d like to think that we are operating on that level.

Can you talk about working with the cast again and bringing in new members such as Doug Jones and Andre Braugher?

TS: I’d like to think that that’s a strong part. I come from that world where I love family arguments. I love that real kind of dialogue and stuff like that. We tried to bring that with film as well as with the first film and the films before that like “Barbershop” In this franchise, I knew that’s what this franchise would hopefully stand out from the rest; that they get into arguments with one another and that they don’t always like one another. I thought this would be a perfect franchise for one another. Working with the core actors for the second time, you already know each other. You are already friends. You can also go back and find the strength from the first film. So, you sort of your guys a little bit better and the know you, they know what to expect from you and vice-versa, and then when it comes to Andre and Doug Jones, you try to cast people that you think you will mesh well with the rest of the cast and when that happens, it’s incredible. In this case, we were looking for Andre to bring a certain thing to the cast, and that was to anchor it a little bit. If you are going to have a general, and not your clichéd general, someone that stands out and have the voice of life and just sinks in and what’s interesting about that, he sinks in and at the same time, he stands out because we wanted him to deal with a different type of character in the movie, and Andre brought that. As I try to cast new people that come into a franchise, even though this is my first sequel, you try to cast people that are going to fit well with the original cast and I think we did that successfully.

Can you talk about casting Lawrence Fishburne as the voice of Silver Surfer?

TS: I had the opportunity to speak with Lawrence months before I started shooting the movie and all we talked about was Galactus and the Silver Surfer. He was a complete fan. So when it came the time to cast someone, his name came up immediately. Besides, who, aside from James Earl Jones, has a more powerful voice? He was perfect and I didn’t have to convince anyone; and him being a fan of the material was icing on the cake.

John Ottman is the composer of the film and he did the first one as well, but he is also an editor. Did he add any of his inputs to the film?

TS: You know what, he’s been respectful in the sense that he actually hasn’t given much input on the editing unless he thinks it got better. He would say, “Ah, that’s a good move.” As an editor, he also understands that we are in a crunch period in our post that I have to show him early stuff that we hadn’t tweaked yet. Although it has a lot of air in the edit, he was able to deal with that and know that it’s only going to get tighter; and to a certain degree because he’s a musician, a composer, he likes more air because it allows him to do more music. I have also been respectful in that if you asked him, I think he would want to be a composer first and an editor second. When it comes to composing I just wanted him to concentrate on that. He’s seen the movie a couple of times and definitely has given his opinion on that, but I don’t depend on him for that becauseI don’t want to put him in that situation. He’s been great and as far as his score is concerned, just like the other avenue of the film, he has matured the film as well. He’s been able to do a sequel to his score. He’s using the theme from the first film and doing something different. He either makes it comical or evil. Everything I’ve heard from him as been incredible.

With Avi Arad doing so many projects, who’s more hands-on with the film, Avi or Chris Columbus?

TS: It would definitely be Avi. Avi comes from the Marvel world, even though he’s not in the executive ranks at Marvel anymore, Avi is still a producer on this film, and he just loves these characters. There are a few that he always takes to heart and I think Fantastic Four, and of course, Spider-man, and the X-Men have always been a great deal for him. He was over here recently watching the latest cut of the film and he just really enjoyed it, and he always felt that these characters meant a lot to him and he worked to bring it to the screen for probably close to a decade now and it’s really cool. He’s been very instrumental and very hands-on.

How far do you think you can go with this franchise and would you like to do something different?

TS: I would love to do something different, but at the same time, it would only be amazing to complete the trilogy. I think the characters for this film can probably survive maybe 3 or 4 because it’s all about the new characters you bring in. I think you can go 4 but I will keep my fingers crossed. If there’s a reason to do a 3 and I’m involved with it, that would be the ultimate goal because franchises go in 3 and if I could complete a trilogy, it would be awesome.

Can the Puppet Master pop up somewhere in the future?

TS: I’ve always wanted to do something with the Puppet Master, mainly because of the story with Ben Grimm and Alicia. I’d be really surprise if the Puppet Master wasn’t part of a 3 if there was a 3.

With Kerry Washington playing Alicia, an African American actor could play the Puppet Master.

TS: As you know, he was her step-father, so you can get anybody and that would be awesome.

With so many sequels out this summer, would do you see film ranking among them?

TS: We’re trying to make it its own. I don’t think that there are many films that take a humorous side to a big action film. The audience knows where we stand. None of these films have influenced us on howwe are doing it. We’re just doing our own thing, get in, have some fun, and get out. I’m not concerned about the other films. Of course, it’s a crowded summer and hopefully we don’t all suck dry all the money and no one makes money or something like that, but at the end of the day as far as film goes, I don’t compare us to anyone, not even Spider-man. We came out before with a big franchise. We came out with Batman and I just don’t compare. We are in our own little world and we have upped the ante on this thing and I hope people enjoy it. We have probably one of the coolest top five of comic characters added to this film in the Silver Surfer and I think people will have a ball.

Will you continue your blog after the film opens?

TS: Absolutely! Hopefully everybody enjoys the film because I tell you, my fans will get on me if they don’t enjoy it. At the end of the day, I do expect to continue blogging and keep the relationship with the folks in the community.



Terms of Use | Privacy Policy