Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro praises sequel helmer Steven S. DeKnight for his work on Pacific Rim: Uprising. Creating a major motion picture is like building a pyramid. Every production bands together hundreds of people to bring to life a select few’s vision of a given film. Each movie is a combustible experiment with multiple levels of authority and responsibility. However, when most look to blame or praise a film, they typically look to the lead actor, director, and producers, of a given movie.
In 2013, director Guillermo del Toro helmed his passion project, Pacific Rim, a high-concept science-fiction movie about mech robot pilots in the near future who attempt to save the Earth from an onslaught of gigantic creatures. The movie grossed over $400 million worldwide at the box office and work on the follow-up began shortly after. For the upcoming sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising, del Toro stepped down as director and is strictly a producer on the highly anticipated second installment.
Not only was del Toro the mastermind behind the original film, but he also wrote an early draft of the sequel as well. With that type of creative ownership over the franchise, it would be understandable if he was overly protective of his creation. He was replaced in the director’s chair by DeKnight and in a recent interview with Collider, del Toro expressed his enthusiasm and eagerness to realize the director’s vision for Pacific Rim: Uprising:
“It was such a great choice. I mean I love [DeKnight], love what he does, I think he’s really brilliant. He’s making it his own. I’m not breathing over his shoulder saying, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ He’s doing things differently and I like that. When I produce I try to produce the way I would like to be produced. I say to everyone I produce, ‘If you need me I will be there 100% all the time. If you don’t need me, I’m not there. You show me the cut then we’ll start interacting.”
DeKnight has made a name for himself as a dynamic writer and showrunner on the television side, after successful runs on Spartacus and the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil. He has assembled a talented international cast for Pacific Rim: Uprising, led by The Force Awakens’ John Boyega, while earlier production art seems to indicate the sequel is on strong footing as well. Del Toro is enthused by both the production and the process:
“It’s going great. I see dailies every day, I see early cuts, I see teasers. They’re doing great. It lets him have his style, lets him have his notion of the characters. I wrote a screenplay, developed two or three drafts of that screenplay—this is different than what I developed, and I’m OK. A producer is in the corner, the director is in the ring. The producer’s not getting the punches, the director is, so shut up, wait in the corner, refresh the towel and wait for the director to come to you.”
Del Toro’s approach to producing films sounds like a director’s dream and an ideal situation for any competent, creative filmmaker. It also explains how del Toro produces so many developing projects simultaneously. However with the wrong director, this approach could prove to be hazardous if they lack the necessary vision and skill set to problem-solve on their own. Which could compound a smaller problem or even create a need for reshoots later to correct past errors. However, one glance at del Toro’s past producing credits and it’s clear that his methods have led to a lot of success.