Interview with Amanda Silver & Rick Jaffa

Amanda Silver & Rick Jaffa are the husband and wife duo behind the screenplay for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. The couple has worked together on various projects, including “Eye For An Eye” and “The Relic”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Amanda and Rick about how they came up with the idea for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and we came across with one amazing story.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you like most about collaborating with each other?
Amanda Silver: We are married, which I’m not sure if you knew or not but, we have been writing together for about 20 years. The collaboration just works. We each have different strengths and we complement each other very well. Because we have been doing this so long there is kind of a short hand in how we communicate.
Rick Jaffa: We also have certain rules since we are married and raising a family which we kind of established in the beginning which we really don’t need to apply anymore but, for example if one of us has the lead in a project and or it was their idea that person would ultimately have veto power if there was some sort of creative road block or disagreement. The truth is we thought we would just establish that if there was ever any trouble and I don’t think there ever has been. Maybe in the very beginning but we just will work things out and find solutions together. For a husband and wife it’s been a really fun adventure. It just works out really well.

MG: How did you become attached to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”?
AS: That was actually Rick’s idea. It was a genius idea as Rick was cutting out these articles he was interested in about chimps being raised like children in a home setting.
RJ: Especially when the chimps become teenagers which in chimp years is about 7 or 8 years old. During that time the chimps become bigger and stronger and really are not meant to live in a home. A lot of the attacks you read about are during this time of development because the chimps are acting as the animal they are supposed to be.
AS: Rick had been staring at the articles for almost two years and all of the sudden he had the idea for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” We at the time had no idea where Fox was with the franchise and what they were developing. We had worked for Fox before and knew one of the executives really well, so we brought this idea to him. Luckily they had nothing in the works and reslly liked our idea. They then bought our idea and had us write and produce the film.

MG: What did you find as your most challenging part of rebooting the series?
RJ: Our attitude was going to be as though the Tim Burton movie never happened. We are huge fans of certain aspects of the Tim’s film but ultimately we knew that if we were going to pull this film off we would have to act as though that film had never happened. We wanted to craft a story that could stand on its own while still paying respect to the original movies and allow younger people who don’t know much about the “Planet of the Apes” franchise to become familiar with the story.

MG: Since this is a prequel, are there any hints or tributes to the original films/series?
AS: Yes. Throughout the entire film there are easter eggs, as we call them. Rick was much better at this than I was. There are little hints such as character names and other things, but I am not going to give anything away. For the people who love “Planet of the Apes” there are a lot of fun things in there for them.
RJ: Some things are really obvious, while others are so obscure that I don’t think people will be able to put them together. I don’t even know how we were able to. (Laughs) There are lots of nods to the original and hints to where the story could go which is a nod to the original mythology of the series.

MG: Is it safe to say you are shaping this to become a new franchise?
AS: We will have to wait and see about that as the film has yet to open. There are characters that we have created for this film that we can’t wait to see what will happen. The premise of the film is what would have to happen today currently in 2011 to eventually get Colonel Taylor on that beach some 3,900 years from now. The apes that we created are present day apes.
RJ: When you see the movie and it feels like we are setting up for a sequel. We know that if the film does well and a sequel presents itself then there are very specific ideas as to what we would like to do. Now that there is a whole kind of “Ape” team made up of the Chernin Company along with Dylan Clark and the Fox team. Everyone has been great to work with and I am sure they all have ideas about where they think the film could go. Amanda and I have very specific ideas but no one has talked about as they are afraid to jinx it I think.

MG: How was it working with Rupert Wyatt and did he have any input on the story?
AS: He was spectacular! Rupert really gave us great notes on the script and when he came on he helped shape the movie. His job was huge on this movie as he had to get not only the script right but he had to cast the right people as well. Rupert also had to communicate with WETA, which is the group responsible for the visual effects and performance capture. He really had to make sure that all the performances were translated from the actors.
RJ: Rupert was a really great listener and collaborator. He would stick to his point of view but would listen and be open to everyone else’s thoughts. He really hung in there despite all the pressure which was present very early on at the start.

MG: Do you guys have any other upcoming projects?
RJ: We just turned in a re-write of a script for Sony, which is a big action/time travel project that we are really excited about. We also are pitching some television ideas, as it is that time of the year. We are also developing some of our own stuff along. With the heat coming of the movie, we have started to receive some things for consideration as well.



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