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Courtney Solomon, director of Getaway

Warner Bros. Pictures releases Getaway nationwide on August 30th, 2013.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is so appealing about dark themes?

Courtney Solomon: Maybe because the world is a darker place than it was 10 or 15 years ago. When you look at movies like The Dark Knight and Man of Steel, all of these characters are coming across way darker than they would have 10 or 15 years ago. People have more access to the internet and the news around the world. Reality is sometimes a dark place and so it feels more realistic if you go that way. I've noticed that trend definitely.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Where in the spectrum of pessimism and optimism do you find yourself?

CS: Very optimistic. I have moments of extreme pessimism--I think we all do. But overall I'm fairly optimistic or I couldn't be doing what I'm doing because you have good days and sometimes bad days. You just have to keep your head up high.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to get the running time down to a lean 90 minutes?

CS: Really challenging. We have 630 hours of source footage, so there's no lack of footage in the movie. If I did a Director's Cut of Getaway, it'd be a much longer. The movie is a roller coaster ride. I hope it's fun. That's what it was intended to be, but it's intense as hell with all of those angles and the sound design. I don't think anybody has put as many cuts in the movie as I did there, and cut as quickly. That was part of the story and part of what interested me in the first place. I thought that 90 minutes, with credits, was how it should be because more would have been too much for the audience, and 90 minutes might be even too much for some people.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to find moments of levity?

CS: It wasn't that challenging to find those moments, but it was challenging to find those moments so that they'd fit organically into what this was and keeping up the intensity. I wanted as many of those moments that we could find because once you get through a crazy sequence, the audience needs to exhale. It's the same principle as a horror movie: once you scare them, you need to let them exhale.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Why did you include the title card so late in the film? Why did you cut right to the chase while avoiding an expositional first act?

CS: Including the title card a little later is an homage to the 70's movies that were done like this. If I had my way about it, I would have done all of the end credits right there. If you look at the way the title card comes up, it's an homage to those titles--Bullitt, Duel, The Getaway, those movies were inspirations for the screenwriter of Getaway and for us in making the movie. That genre was really, really popular in the 70's. Throwing the audience in was a very cognisant thing. I could have done 15 minutes of seeing Brent Magna, [the protagonist], and his wife in their normal lives, and given more back story between Selena Gomez's character and her father, seeing her with the car. I thought to myself that this just all happened. None of that is necessarily going to serve the story that we're trying to tell, and I don't necessarily need to know all of it because I'm getting it all of that same information from the movie. I'm getting why Brent cares about his wife and how important she is, obviously, and how much danger she's in. Instead, this guy comes home from work, but we don't know where he works---it's all a mystery. We learn more about what we need to know about them throughout the story, but the thrust of film remains. A lot of people said to me, "Why did they do more to stop him [the bad guy] earlier on?" and I replied, "What would you really do?" If the stakes were really there, what would you really do? Would you really be screwing with this guy? He says right up front, "Don't call the cops or she's dead." He says that in the first 3 minutes of the movie. So, now what are you going to do? Are you going to play with your wife's life? If you really do care about your wife, you wouldn't do that.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What action thriller would you love to double feature with Getaway?

CS: I'd love to double feature it with Duel because it's a big inspiration. I love what Spielberg did and how I was so ahead of the time with the camera moves when he shot it. Nobody shot around car that way before and made you feel the intensity. When he picked that truck, I remember reading about it in books that it was a character and that he wanted the ugliest truck he could possibly find. Casting our car, I wanted it to be like a character in the movie and that it have its own face and persona. As it became more damaged throughout the film, I wanted to make you feel like it was something that you cared about. In the context of what happens to the human characters, you also care about the car. It would be fun to see Getaway with Duel because I think we did a lot of new things with camera angles in this type of movie that are good for our generation of movies.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn an action thriller into a classic?

CS: What makes it into a classic is something that the audience finds unique that they haven't seen before. I don't know if this will or won't become a classic, but I definitely think that it's unique and that it doesn't follow the conventional structures of these movies. Other than the conventional arc, we didn't do anything conventionally. Even the dialogue scenes are done while the action is actually happening. Usually you just hear "Oooo"s and "Ahhh"s in the middle of the action and some smart-ass comments, but in this one they're actually doing dialogue in the midst of the action sequences. We did the cognisantly just to keep it real.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Whom among the actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood do you imagine in the roles of Ethan Hawke and Jon Voight?

CS: The natural choice would be Steve McQueen. If I was directing Getaway back then, that's who I would've wanted. Strangely, with Jon Voight, there could have been a lot of cool people. This may seem odd, but you could have thrown Humphrey Bogart in there. It's a character that you don't see; it's just a voice. When I picked Jon Voight, it's not like I didn't want you to recognize his voice even though he was putting on an accent. It's a voice that's extremely distinctive.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Did you consider shooting Getaway in 3D?

CS: A lot of people told me that it's almost like watching a 3D movie. I did think about it. If the scenes where the cars come swerving into the camera were in the 3D, the whole audience would be jumping back in unison because it's far more extreme than the 3D you're seeing in movies these days. It just might have been too much. It's already a lot for the audience to digest, but I think it would be so cool in 3D.

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