Frank Miller talks about directing 'THE SPIRIT'

The first photos are online showing writer-director Frank Miller on the green-screen-covered set of Will Eisner's The Spirit.
The Comics Continuum's ROB ALLSTETTER and Newsarama's TOM MCLEAN were among the dozen or so reporters who visited the Albuquerque, New Mexico, set of Will Eisner's The Spirit on Tuesday, Day 27 of shooting the live-action film based on the creation of writer/director Frank Miller's late mentor and friend.

There was little to look at on the set but small chunks of sets and green-screen backgrounds everywhere else.

"This is the only way I've been trained to direct," Miller explained. "I love it because it brings it closer to the art on the page."

Miller's "training" came during his directorial collaboration on Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, who taught him about the endless possibilities of digital cinema.

"Right now, it's almost frightening what is possible," he said. "One of the challenges for a director of a movie that uses this much digital technology is what not to do."

During the set visit, cast and crew shot action scenes of the Spirit (Gabriel Macht)--dressed in a black suit with a red tie, black hat and black mask--fighting the henchman of The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) and, later, the head villain himself.

"From the start, I wanted Sam Jackson to play The Octopus because I’ve always wanted to work with Sam Jackson," Miller said. "It seems to me he’s always had a part like this inside waiting to get out."

Miller is the obvious choice to direct the film adaptation of The Spirit, based not just on his long friendship with Eisner, but also on the connection he felt with the character from the first moment he read it.

"I was just probably about 13 years old, and came across Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and was blown away," Miller said. "I thought it was somebody new to comics because it was so far ahead of anything else coming out."

The director promised that the script is faithful "to Will's vision as an artist," especially to the "passion that Will and I always shared for New York City."

Miller has embraced the new and expanding technology to help him achieve his goal of authenticity to Eisner's celebrated work, and he predicts that the digital palette will only get more colorful. "It's exploding all around us. I see a grand and beautiful collision between anime, live-action, comic books. So it's a very exciting time."

Will Eisner's The Spirit is more than halfway through principal photography with a cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes and Paz Vega, but with extensive post-production work still ahead before the film's release on 16 January '09.
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