Unlimited access to the movie sets of some of the world’s greatest filmmakers. An unguarded look at the most treasured behind-the-scenes footage from cinema classics. Direct contact with the likes of Ridley Scott, James Cameron and George Lucas. It’s a fanboy’s wet dream, but for documentarian Charles de Lauzirika it’s his job. The 47-year-old writer, director and producer is the man responsible for all your favourite behind-the-scenes featurettes, specifically those of the Ridley Scott. He recently finished up working on The Martian in Budapest – which he calls “phenomenal” – and before that was alongside Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton for the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods And Kings. He’s embedded like a journalist on film sets and has been for over a decade, capturing those unguarded moments between the movie and the magic. “I tend to try and hang back and be a quiet presence on set,” says de Lauzirika. “For the first several years – even today – if I’m honest when I go on set there’s an excitement level that’s elevated from the usual day job. It comes from just watching the magic happen and living the dream simultaneously.” Sometimes he’ll get flown in a few weeks out from the end of production and at other times he’s embedded with the crew from day one, like he was on Exodus. From the first day of pre-production at Pinewood Studios in London de Lauzirika was there with his cameras rolling and right through until the deadly chariot chase on location. “I’m doing it as a filmmaker but at the same time with the ulterior motive of making the fans happy,” he says. One of those fans was Edgerton, who developed a friendship with de Lauzirika on the set of Exodus. “He watched the trailer for my movie Crave and then the next day on set he gave me notes,” the filmmaker laughs.
You can’t say the name Ridley Scott without mentioning the enduring legacy of the Aliens universe and de Lauzirika says he has been honoured to be a big part of that. He was the person responsible for putting together the Alien quadrilogy box-set complete with hours of special features, behind-the-scenes docos and extended cuts after Scott asked him to “take over the project because he was leaving to work on Gladiator”. It was a dream come true for de Lauzirika, who lists Alien as his favourite film and also went on to work on Prometheus. “Getting to go on the set of Prometheus – being a lifelong Alien fan – I walked on those sets and when I got to see the Engineer in the space jockey chair in person… believe me, I took a few photos of my own. That was like a childhood dream for me. Without a doubt it’s one of the most fun and magical things a film geek could hope to do.”
It’s unsurprising then that just like the rest of us, de Lauzirika is highly interested in the next Alien instalment which has Neil Blomkamp at the helm. “I think it’s exciting for everyone involved and I think fans should be excited about what’s to come,” he says. “I mean, the thing I love about the Alien movies and now Prometheus movies is it’s such a rich universe that so many filmmakers can enter into it and come out of it with very different types of movies. It’s almost like a film festival anchored by the aliens or by Ridley. You have these very different visions from Ridley and James (Cameron) and (David) Fincher and (Jean-Pierre) Jeunet and now (Neil) Blomkamp and all the other people. With the Alien Vs Predator movies as well I think there’s such a diversity of vision, which is fascinating to watch. It’s not like the Lord Of The Rings movies where you have the same one filmmaker with pretty much the same cast and crew with a continuous vision for six films. You have drastically different worlds and you never know what you’re going to get with the Alien movies. I’m very excited to see what we’re going to get with Neil.”
Exodus: Gods And Kings is currently out on Blu-Ray and DVD.