The Strike Productions released the trailer for Atlas Shrugged Part I on February 11th, and already the trailer has been viewed well over 700,000 times.
A quick check of the YouTube Trailers page — from which the Atlas Shrugged Part I trailer is conspicuously absent — shows only a few trailers with more views.
For this interview, screenwriter Brian Patrick O’Toole was kind enough to answer several questions about the trailer from scientist and Atlasphere member Hans Schantz, for the enjoyment of Atlasphere readers.
If you haven't seen the trailer yet, you can do so here:
The Atlasphere: I like the liberty you’ve taken with the Midas Mulligan and John Galt scene. I think it’s a great way to introduce the viewer to the central premise in a brief scene. But do you still intend to replace Paul Johansson as John Galt? Are you really going to find another actor of the exact same build with the same voice?
Brian Patrick O'Toole: John Galt was always meant to be a shadow figure in Part One. Anyone could have stood in for the character because we were going to see so little of him in this first film.
The producers asked the director, who is an experienced actor, to play the role. Another actor will be brought in to portray Galt when it is necessary — which is really in Part Three.
TA: The jumps between the Wyatt’s Torch scenes and the early train wreck threw me momentarily, but I doubt any but the most fanatic fans would have picked up on that. The trailer was remarkably well-integrated and did an outstanding job of introducing the story to an audience unfamiliar with the novel. At the same time, you revealed a number of spoilers — like the John Galt Line. What’s the balance your team aimed to strike between drawing in viewers and not ruining the surprise?
O'Toole: In the trailer, you never see the train make it over the bridge at any point. Only you, who know the book, would recognize that as a spoiler. More often than not these days, trailers give away whatever they need to in order to entice audiences to see the movie.
I think it was Roger Corman who said that a good trailer should show action, something sexy, and an explosion. We have all three.
Giveaways are tough when doing an adaptation because there will be people who know the parent material and scenes in a trailer will be spoilers. Unfortunately, when promoting a film, that is a risk one has to take.
TA: Your post-production team did a great job excising the palm trees from Piru Mansion in the Wyatt’s Torch scene. One thing did immediately catch my eye — weren’t a couple of those locomotives in the train action shots BNSF, Norfolk Southern, and then later Union Pacific? Are you going to add a distinctive “Taggart Transcontinental” livery for them in further post-processing?
O'Toole: Actually, outside of the John Galt Line train, all the other trains were live-action. No CGI at all.
As for the names on the trains, it was a cost issue to change them to Taggart Transcontinental. We’re hoping that it is a small detail people are willing to overlook. Besides, I would imagine that other trains would run on the Taggart railways.
TA: I love Hank’s smile when Paul tells Hank, “Yes, but you shouldn’t say it.” So is that your handiwork in the script, good direction, good acting, or all of the above?
O'Toole: Anything you see up on the screen is a collective effort from writing to art direction to lighting to acting to editing to music and sound. Many forces come together to make a scene happen.
For that particular scene, I can tell you that it was all Grant Bowler’s performance. I had the privilege of watching all the dailies many, many times and I can tell you that line is all in Grant’s performance.
TA: Kudos to your prop master, I presume, for his rendition of the Galt’s motor fragment. That prop has just the right mix of being vaguely electromechanical in an unconventional yet totally believable way. Who should I credit?
O'Toole: Credit goes to our amazing art department headed by John Mott. They had very little time to work their magic but it was indeed magic that John and his team performed.
TA: Whoever called the production lush has it exactly right. Anyone who’s been following the Facebook page knew that already, but the trailer really does a good job showing additional details from the moving blinds in Dagny’s apartment to the funky railway ties. Are they made out of Rearden metal, too?
O'Toole: I’m so glad people are seeing the trailer and commenting on how lush the film looks. Nope, only the new rails are made of the blue-green Rearden Metal in the film.
TA: The biggest flaw: “US who move the world?” I know that wasn’t what you had in the script, but wasn’t that supposed to be fixed with a voice over?
O'Toole: That line was actually written into the script during production. I checked the production script and it clearly says “we” so it was something that the actor slipped up on and the script supervisor didn’t catch.
I believe, for the film, we caught the mistake in the ADR session and it has been corrected. Unfortunately, the trailer was made before then and contains the flub. There goes my Writer’s Guild award, I guess (laughs).
TA: I was absolutely blown away by the power of the very last scene in which Hank and Dagny toast their business relationship and Lillian immediately slinks in with a predatory look on her face to break it up. That works on so many levels – the obvious level of keeping an eye on her husband when he’s close to Dagny to the more subtle meaning of her conspiring to break up the business partnership as well. That’s such a stunningly brilliant way to capture the conflict in both respects with remarkable economy. Is that your handiwork, or was that more of a directorial decision?
O'Toole: Again, whatever you see on screen was a collective effort from all the team players. A screenwriter’s job is merely to set the stage; provide the blueprint for the film.
I do have to say that any scene that includes Rebecca Wisocky, who plays Lillian Rearden, are some of my favorites in the movie. I can’t wait to work more with that character in Part Two.
TA: Are you sensing any momentum toward a more widespread initial release? Might the private showing drum up enough industry buzz to get the film in more theaters?
O'Toole: In less than four days, the trailer hit over 500,000 views on YouTube. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive.
There has been a lot of the left side versus the right side back and forth on the comments. I just want everyone to know that we made a film that celebrates the individual — and both sides should be celebrating the release of the film.
We just released a full clip from the film — my favorite clip, to be honest — and we’ll have some of the music available for fans to download soon as well. We just need everyone to help spread the message and go see Atlas Shrugged Part I on April 15, 2011.
Below is the full clip to which O'Toole refers in his final answer, above.