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The Amazing Spider-Man with Matt Tolmach

The Amazing Spider-Man producer Matt Tolmach chats about stunts, working with Andrew Garfield, why they chose The Lizard, and shooting in 3D.

It’s 3rd July, which means it’s time for The Amazing Spider-Man to strutt his stuff on the big screen.

To get your Spidey sense tingling, I chatted to the film’s producer Matt Tolmach about leaping off parking lots, cartwheeling through space, and going to 3D school.

  • For my interview with Emma Stone who stars as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing-Spider-Man, click here.
  • For Spidey-licious cakes and costumes, click here.

With so many different storylines to choose from in the Spider-Man universe, how did Dr Connors/The Lizard emerge victorious?
Years ago, [producer] Avi Arad brought me a drawing he’d commissioned of The Lizard. This is who he’d dreamed about being the next great villain.

We all fell in love with the notion that The Lizard was a very different villain character than you’d seen in the other movies.

At the same time, he relies on that thing that all great villains have, which is his tragic humanity. So, he’s both a terrifying creature and a tragic figure.

Also, he has real relevance in Peter Parker’s story, because he knows Peter’s father and he’s a key to the quest Peter goes on in search of those answers.

Tell me about shooting in 3D.

Director Marc Webb on set

It was really exciting and it was a big decision that we made around the time when there was a lot of controversy about 3D and which movies should be in 3D.

We felt that if there’s a movie that should be in 3D, it’s Spider-Man because you identify so much with the character and what it would feel like to to fall and to fly.

Having said that, it’s complicated shooting in 3D. The lighting is different, it takes longer to set up shots, but it’s also incredibly cool.

Sony did this really clever thing: they created a school where people went and actually learned how to shoot in 3D. All the crew from our movie went.

We were watching playback in 3D on the set. We contemplated every shot and the way it would look in 3D. The idea was that it’s as much a part of the storytelling as a plot point or what happens to a character.

What’s your favourite moment from the movie?
Obviously there’s tons of visual effects in the movie, but there’s a real reliance on practical effects as well.

Armstrong Action had a team of stunt guys and they all worked very closely with Andrew Garfield. And what we did practically was mind-blowing.

There was one day we were shooting way up town in New York under a bridge and we literally had Spider-Man in a suit and we’d built this huge traveller, a thing that moves under the bridge.

And the stunt guy was swinging for real on this traveller and he was going away from us on this bridge. It was night time and it was lit. It was unbelievable and it was real. Being there for it was really exciting – your heart just starts racing.

What other stunts really stood out for you?
We had one of our stunt guys run and jump off a parking garage in the Sony lot. He was on a wire on an enormous crane, crazy high, 100s and 100s of feet high.

And he goes running off it for real and just cartwheels through space and falls all the way and finally this thing grabs him. It’s dangerous!

Armstrong Action and their guys are the best in the world at protecting people and knowing what they can and can’t do.

Still, that element of risk is there and you feel it when you see it. Just to be there was amazing – it was wild. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Those guys are so fearless.

Obviously, there were things we couldn’t do because they involve feats that the human body’s incapable of and there’s no rig big enough to do it.

There’s a sequence in the movie where Spider-Man flies through canyons in the city, and it’s breath-taking. But they’re certain scenes you just couldn’t do legally and the laws of physics might get in the way!

But what we did do pushed the boundaries of physics so far that we really left only those things that just were not humanly possible to CG.

Jan Gilbert

Jan Gilbert is the founder of Flicks And The City.

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