Steven Spielberg spoke to audiences in ten cities on Sunday following a screening of War Horse, his epic tale that follows a horse’s adventurous trail through the First World War. The director answered texted questions in a simultaneous satellite broadcast to theaters on both coasts and in Chicago, while everyone else could follow a live stream hosted by MSN.com and with real-time translation for the international followers provided by Ortsbo.
No amazing secrets were revealed, but the public did get a good idea of what the movie means to Spielberg and what they can expect when it officially opens on Dec. 25 in the U.S., which is historically one of the most popular days for adults to visit movie theaters.
Some of the movie’s most dramatic action takes place as torrential rain turned the trenches into mud, presenting a challenge to cast, crew and critters alike. Among the nuggets of information the director shared was that he used animatronics when necessary for the animals’ well-being, and that he limited the number of digital effects: “There are three shots that are significant CG during this film, and the only reason I did it because I wanted to keep the horses safe.”
Spielberg also admitted that film was losing out to digital, an evolution he didn’t seem happy about. In answer to a question from a fan in Venezuela, Spielberg answered, “I’m not looking to convert to Red cameras. Tin-Tin was 100 percent digital animation, but we will all be forced to shoot digitally sooner rather than later.”
Another glimpse of personal insight was in reply to someone in San Francisco who sought Spielberg’s opinion of war, which was appropriate for a man whose direction of Saving Private Ryan was honored with an Academy Award. “I have many feelings about the war,” Spielberg said. “My father is a proud veteran of World War II, and he taught me something when he was very young – war proves who your friends really are. And that teamwork, and way people live and die for each other, is what my movies are about.”
A transcript of the chat can be read here, and videoed highlights from the satellite simulcast are below.
The theaters that hosted the live Q&A were in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami and Atlanta. Trade and industry screenings began last week in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
DreamWorks Pictures’ War Horse is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Kebbell. It is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, and executive producers are Frank Marshall and Revel Guest. The screenplay was written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis and is based on the best-selling book by Michael Morpurgo and the Tony Award-winning international hit stage play by Nick Stafford, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot.