Adapting An Uncharted Video Game
The writing itself was two weeks, but I spent another few days prior to meeting Nathan for building the basic treatment. I didn’t find that it was too difficult to adapt it because all of the source material was already so rich. The challenge was ensuring that we stayed true to the characters and themes.
My approach to directing this was the same as my approach to doing larger films. I prepare as much as possible and try to remain true to the heart of the story. I also make sure that I’m ready to answer any questions that my actors or crew have for me with regards to the plot and character motivations.
I think the only difference is that something already exists and you have a responsibility to do it justice. It still takes time and it still involves lots of hard work and commitment. Whether it’s a feature or short, you need to honor your story.
Things That Excited Fans
I always felt deep down that people would like it, especially because of how so many fans felt about the source material. The great thing about Uncharted is that the characters embody everything we want in heroes, but they are also relatable. With the plots, they’re always engaging and exciting. That was our recipe. Whether you’re a fan or not, this has something for everyone to enjoy. Especially fans of this adventure genre. I know of people who have watched it who know nothing about the video game and they really seemed to enjoy seeing the piece unfold.
I didn’t have to give too many details to Nathan because he was already very familiar with the game. In addition to that, we formed a collaboration that was built on trust which really allowed us to achieve a certain vision. Any time I wanted to make sure we got something or mention something, I didn’t need to do much convincing. I simply explained why, and Nathan and the other cast were on board.
They’re a wonderful group of people. Stephen Lang, who plays Sully, was already a friend of mine. We worked together on the Netflix film Gridlocked. I called him up and asked him if he would consider coming out for a day to help me. He’s always been a big supporter so he was happy to do it. Geno, our villain, was a friend of our Stunt Coordinator and his fan loved the game. As for Mircea, Nathan and her were already friends so it didn’t take too much convincing.
95% of the humor was written. There were a couple of things that Nathan brought and a few things that came out of time constraints, but it was mostly written. Nathan did the line “Does that mean if I care deeply about you, you’ll leave?” and the end of the fight scene where he holds El Tigre back like a little kid was done on the day.
We did 11 takes of that. The challenge is that we needed to time all the practical effects and stunts together as it was one long take. It required a lot of preparation. It was also extremely hot that day and it was slowing us down a bit. The first several takes were frustrating because Nathan’s gun kept jamming and I didn’t want to rely on CGI. Eventually, we got into a groove and we ended up with 3 takes that I like. We settled on take 7 because it was the one I felt best captured the performances and the stunts.
Believing in the Vision
The key factor is that everybody believed in the vision and everybody came together passionately. It was an amazing crew and a great cast. I worked very hard to make sure that, first and foremost, this was an adaptation, fans would love and recognize as something that pays tribute to the character and game. In doing that, I also wanted to make sure I didn’t alienate those who hadn’t played the game. For me, more than anything it was about staying loyal and true to the source material.
My advice is to keep learning, keep making mistakes, and keep moving forward. Don’t let the word “no” stop you or discourage you. You will hear no many times before you hear yes. You need to be tenacious and believe in yourself. It’s crucial that other people see your passion. It’s contagious. I think we also have so much technology now that makes filmmaking more accessible. There’s no reason you can’t find a way to capture or tell your story. And most of all just be true to yourself and your vision.