THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW - Q&A with co-writer JEFFREY NACHMANOFF
How thoroughly did you research this subject as you were writing?
I've been researching global warming and climate change for several months during the writing. My education has been continuing throughout the making of the movie because people are so excited to discover that anybody is making a movie of their subject that they are constantly approaching us. Being the science nerd of the gang I'm happy to talk to all of them.
Does the subject matter become more worrying for you the more you learn about it?
I think any time you look into a serious issue like this you can take it one of two ways: you can become paranoid and throw up your hands and say you don't know what to do or you can take the approach that it's a really interesting and important topic. And once you know about it you feel more empowered, because you know a little bit about what's happening, what your choices are and what you can do about it.
At least here any discussion of the subject matter is a good thing, regardless of the artistic licence you might be taking?
That's exactly the approach that I have to it, and that I think we have as filmmakers. We can't be expected to educate the public in a Hollywood movie, it would be foolish to think you can teach people about a serious and complex scientific issue in the course of two hours of entertainment. However, I think anything that sparks peoples' interest in something this important is a positive thing. I think a lot of groups see this as an opportunity for them. Of course some see it as an opportunity to get their political message out but I am more sympathetic to groups that feel it's a chance to get their information out and let people learn about what scientists know and don't know, and what actions people can take. Really the idea is to let people make informed decisions and informed choices in their lives. One of the biggest problems with the issue of climate change is that people as a whole don't know that much about it.
Are you anticipating the film to be controversial at all, either in the US or beyond?
I guess there will be some controversy about the film and it's message. But I hope that doesn't overshadow the underlying message which I don't think is particularly controversial. It's that we have to take care of our environment, we need to co-operate as countries and individuals if we're going to survive adverse conditions. This is a serious problem, obviously the movie is fun and it has a provocative scenario but there are far less extreme scenarios that could happen as a result of global warming that people should be concerned about. Are you likely to be crushed by a giant ice cube in London or Manhattan any time soon? Probably not. But if you're a farmer in Bangladesh, or if you are someone who lives in a low lying area where the effects of global warming are already beginning to be felt, then this is not something to dismiss as simple Hollywood fantasy.
In working with Roland are you conscious of the pressure to top what he has done before?
It was a real privilege for me to be able to work with him. Roland and Mark Gordon are both at the top of the Hollywood food chain, these are guys that have made billions of dollars at the box office, and this is my first movie as a screenwriter to make it to the screen. That's like someone from the club league being asked to play in a championship game. It was a terrific experience for me to be lifted up to a very big Hollywood film. Roland and Mark had me involved throughout the entire picture, I was brought on set the whole way, I've been involved in the editing and now I'm here to help promote the film. I think that's a testament to their willingness to try and work with a fresh voice, to try and bring in something a little bit different.
Were you a big movie fan going into this project?
When I came in to meet with Roland I explained that I didn't know much about disaster movies, in fact I'd never even seen one. I had barely seen any of his films, the only one I knew was INDEPENDENCE DAY though I've seen more since. I was not a film fan, I grew up in London but didn't go to the cinema at all really. At Harvard I studied literature and art, and if anything I was a bit of a snob about film. I didn't think of it as particularly high art. I got interested later, after I got out of university it occurred to me that maybe film was something I'd be interested in doing. So I came to the medium relatively late, and that probably appealed to Roland, that he would be working with someone who maybe wouldn't be as firmly locked into the formula of the disaster picture. My influences were more outside of the cinema. As a result that's probably why I tend to gravitate more towards character and the science too.
What are your thoughts now that THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW is about to be unleashed on the public?
I'm thrilled with it. I'm obviously biased, but I think it's a pretty terrific ride for people. I look forward to getting the chance to see them enjoy it.
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