'We used cameras in drones'

'We used cameras in drones'

Political thrillers are his forte, but director Roger Donaldson is not known to confine himself to any oeuvre. With such films like ‘Sleeping Dogs’, ’No Way Out’, ‘Cocktail’, ‘The Bounty’, ‘Thirteen Days’ and ‘The Recruit’ in his repertoire, his canvas is extensive and  works compelling.

The craftsman that he is, he loves presenting surprise elements to the audience. Talking of thrillers, he is back with the espionage story ‘The November Man’ starring Pierce Brosnan, which is set to release here on August 29. 

Though the film is said to be based on Bill Granger’s book, Donaldson has an interesting perspective on his work.


 “It is my interpretation of the script. The books were set in the ’60s’ cold war period. It was written in a different time.The world’s different now. With the technology, cellphones, satellite tracking and drones, the film is really an updated version,” he tells Metrolife from Los Angeles. This is the second time he is teaming up with Pierce Brosnan.


 “Pierce is an old friend of mine. We had worked together in ‘Dante’s Peak’ and had a great time. When this script came along, I liked it. I liked the idea of it being set in Europe,” he says.

With the situation heating up in Russia and Ukraine, was the film just a coincidence? “It’s a coincidence. Europe is now seeing changing drama. I think, it is sort of a ticking bomb of the world,” he adds.
‘The November Man’ is set in Serbia, which adds an element of interest, naturally. “It was not the Serbia I had knowledge of. The place is different now,” he says.

 “The people there were great and cooperative. We managed to have great shots, the kinds we haven’t seen before on the cinema,” he pauses.

The challenge for him is to keep surprising the audience. The highlight of the film include the airborne cameras.

For stunts, multiple cameras were used. “We had a very good stunt cameraman from England and crew who had worked in ‘Bond’ films. We used cameras in drones. There are also sequences for which the cameraman sat behind a speeding bike,” he adds.

Australia-born Donaldson also talks of his formative years, of the odyssey from New Zealand to the United States.

 “I was going to be a geologist when I met an old friend of mine, a photographer and painter.”  And the rest as they is history. “I started out as a photographer. I was also making TV commercials in New Zealand and I found filmmaking very appealing,” he says. ‘The Bounty’ happened when he came to the US. Donaldson also remade a documentary about Burt Munro, a man who spent 57 years modifying and rebuilding a 1920s motorcycle. Munro, while in his 70s, had set a world land speed record in it.

When Donaldson remade it as a feature film, Anthony Hopkins became Burt Munro. So there he has a career studded with stalwarts, including Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day Lewis, Liam Neeson, Tom Cruise. Big stars? “Maybe I got lucky,” he says. Being in the US though, “There is a downside too. I get homesick,” he says.

Will India be part of his films? “I have come to India twice. I was in Mumbai
developing a script, looking for locations. And Bangalore? “You never know,” he laughs.

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