MATRIX: How have things changed for you in the year since The Matrix was filmed?
OWEN: Things haven’t really changed for me. Like all designers who are reasonably regularly employed, I go from one production, have a few weeks off, and start on another production. I’ve done two films since then, I worked on a film called Noriega: God’s Favorite for Roger Spottiswoode up in Manila, which was a great experience. It was very difficult, very low budget compared to something like The Matrix. Then I did Red Planet for Warner Bros.
The funny thing for me was, when were still shooting Noriega up in the Philippines, one of my Art Department guys, Danny, came in and said I haven’t said anything about the Matrix and he had seen it the night before. The film had just had just been released in the cinema in America, and certainly hadn’t been released in the Philippines. He said he saw it on video, so I asked if he saw all of it, and he said the camera wasn’t the right way up all the time, but it’s an amazing film. I guess he had seen a pirate copy I hadn’t seen.
Everyone else had gotten to go to the Premier, which I didn’t because I was working. At that point, everyone was getting really excited about the film. I think we were always fairly positive about the film when we were making it, because you usually get a good vibe from things, I feel. Larry and Andy knew what they were talking about, and the actors seemed to come up pretty well, which is what it’s all about. We regularly saw how the dramatic action was working with what Wo Ping had the actors doing, so you knew that that half was going to be great. I saw most of the dailies, and the dramatic part of it, which is always the most complex part of it to get, seemed to be working as well, but you can’t really tell until the film is finished. It was starting to really wind up, and once the film was released a lot of people were saying, “Wow, this film is incredible, it’s got the best action ever, it’s the first film ever to be made that’s like a comic”. It’s not based on a comic, but that whole genre is really important, so people were getting really excited. Just to have been involved with that is a fantastic experience.
MATRIX: Did you enjoy watching the Oscars?
OWEN: I had a great time at the Oscars. I came over to the US a couple of weeks before because the Art Department got a nomination for Excellence in Production Design for a Feature Film from the Art Directors Guild of America. We didn’t win that award, but we had a great night, it was our first big LA social do. Then I came back over to the US to start work last Monday, and the Saturday I arrived was the BAFTA tea party, (the British Academy awards) at which we had a nomination as well. The next night was Oscar night, the Art Department didn’t get a nomination for an Oscar, but it was great to see we got four award nominations and won all four awards. We all went across to Bill Pope’s house, the Director of Photography, and had a fantastic time. We were all hooting and yelling and screaming when the first one was won, and the second one, and the third one, and the fourth one; it was a pretty exciting moment. I had never been to an Oscar party in America before, but every year at home [in Australia] we get together with a bunch of friends and watch them and talk about someone’s dress, and how they shouldn’t have got that, or they should have got it, or whatever. So it’s always fun, but American crowds are always good and vocal. All these people were there for Larry and Andy because they made all this possible, and I’m sure they were very pleased. The recipients all paid their respects and thanked Larry and Andy, as they should have, because they were the genesis of the whole process. They are great auteurs.
MATRIX: Now that a year or more has passed, how does it feel to be back for the sequels?
OWEN: I’m really pleased just to have the opportunity of getting to work with Larry and Andy again. I don’t know a great deal yet about the detail within the actual script, or exactly what happens, but on the other hand, I know exactly what it is as well. It’s a weird combination because I think the next two films will be not unlike the other one, but will probably be more complex, more interesting, and investigate other things. There is a certain precedent that has been established. I think visually, it will become more exciting.
I think from a story telling point of view it will be bigger and more dynamic, but at the same time they’ll essentially be extensions of the first Matrix. I think the idea of the three films is that you can watch The Matrix number one, The Matrix number two, and The Matrix number three one after the other, and they will all work together as one complete piece of entertainment. It’s a continuation, and along with that will be the Japanese animes that are being done, the video game, and the internet game. That whole process will help the fans really get a more complete piece of entertainment. It will be more than a film coming out for the first time: you’ve seen The Matrix and gone, ‘Wow, what was that about? It was amazing!’ So many people I talk to react like that, they feel that all of their senses have been assailed; they’ve had a fantastic sensory experience, and been taken on a great journey. I think the sequels will be an extension of that journey. I’m very excited.
MATRIX: Thanks Owen.
Interview by REDPILL