Dapper dandy Paul Feig showed up for our interview in a three-piece suit. The always impeccably-dressed television veteran, who created Freaks and Geeks, crossed over to feature films in a big way with 2011’s surprise smash Bridesmaids. Feig sat down with PW to talk about his follow-up, The Heat, a throwback buddy-cop flick starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
PW: There’s a tricky balance to The Heat that reminded me of Beverly Hills Cop. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy, but people are still getting shot in the head.
PAUL FEIG: It’s exactly that! I remember going to see Beverly Hills Cop and thinking, This will be fun, I love Eddie Murphy. And then there’s an execution right at the beginning. Oh, shit! Also, 48 Hours I love. Those movies were funny, but you got into them because the stakes were real. I personally don’t like when a movie is silly. There have been some cop movies that are funny, but the bad guys are goofy, so you know there’s no real danger. If there’s no real danger, you don’t invest. So you have to make sure that tone is consistent and nobody’s going too goofy. I’ve always wanted to do an action comedy. Back to the ‘80s! I know, I’m stuck in my past.
Speaking of your past, even though most of the industry has shifted to digital, you photographed this movie on good old-fashioned 35mm film?
Yes. Bridesmaids too. I’m not militant about it; I just like film. It’s what I was trained on. And I’ll be honest: When you work with women, film is just friendlier. I mean, HD is rough!
The Heat doesn’t have that shitty overlit video look of most recent comedies.
That’s the other thing: There’s a texture you get from film that you just don’t get from HD. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep the film thing going, but as long as we can do it, I’ll keep using it. Also, there’s a technical reason. When you shoot HD, you can shoot for a long time, but with film, you’re limited. You’ve got 12 minutes per roll, so we can go on our improv things, but it still ends. I stay on schedule that way, because if I can shoot an hour at a time, I’ll shoot an hour at a time. And then we’re screwed.