The spice must flow! That’s the oft-spoken proclamation in Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel masterpiece Dune, and now its also become the rallying cry of movie fans around the world. Highly acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve currently has his big-screen blockbuster adaptation of Dune scheduled for release on 18 December, but with how the global COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with movie releases this year, that date is a bit nebulous right now.
Dune started filming back in March 2019 already, but it’s such a huge production that there’s still a bit to do. Speaking to Indiewire, Villeneuve confirmed that as is the norm for a film of this size and complexity, the Canadian filmmaker had additional pickups and reshoots scheduled which he never got to do.
I was planning to go back and shoot some elements later because I wanted to readjust the movie. I needed time. At the time I didn’t know that it would be a pandemic…as we were about to go back to do those elements.
As Villeneuve continued, he explained that with some film production starting up again around the world, there’s still time to get everything done, but it’s going to be tight.
The impact was that it crushed my schedule right now. It will be a sprint to finish the movie on time right now, because we [will be] allowed to go back to shoot those elements in a few weeks… it meant also that I have to finish some elements of the movie, like VFX and the editing, being in Montreal as my crew stayed in Los Angeles.
When it comes to VFX, we’ve seen a number of film and TV productions continue without too much interruption as VFX artists just kept working from home in the pandemic. The same has been true for Dune which will definitely post a lot of post-production effects to bring to life Herbert’s iconic alien world of Arrakis.
When it comes to cutting all that completed footage together remotely during the pandemic though, that’s a whole lot more tricky.
As a director there are things that can be done remotely to deal with technology. The supervision of VFX with some equipment is easy to do from afar but, editing, for me, the big lesson from this is I thought it would be possible to edit at a distance. With my editor [Joe Walker] sharing equipment, being afar from the [one another], but I realize how much editing is like playing music with someone and you need to be in the same room. There’s something about the interaction, human interaction, the spontaneity, the energy in the room. I really miss not being in the same room as my editor….it’s very, very painful.
Maybe one of the reasons is that the editor is someone…is also a psychiatrist. He’s the only [one] dealing with my OCD and my panic attacks and my fears, and receives my joys. In the future, if something like that ever happens again, I will definitely make sure my editor is close to me.
We can only hope that nothing like this will ever happen again. Or at the very least that Villeneuve can finish his filmmaking sprint. I’ve loved everything Villeneuve has done and he is one of the few filmmakers in the world today who I would trust with adapting such beloved – and immensely complex – source material. Combine that with the most talent-stacked cast of A-list actors in any Hollywood production of recent memory, and Dune is undoubtedly my most highly anticipated film of the year. If we actually still get it this year.
Last Updated: August 4, 2020