Making ‘Dune’ – Here’s How Denis Villeneuve and His Team Pulled Off Sci-Fi Epic (Video)

TheWrap magazine: It took an army to put Denis Villeneuve’s epic “Dune” on screen; here are stories from the director and some of his soldiers

This story about the making of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” first appeared in the Below-the-Line issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.

“Maybe there’s a self-preservation chip that I don’t have,” Denis Villeneuve said with a laugh. The Canadian director has good reason to say that, considering that his last movie was a sequel to an all-time classic, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” and his new one is an attempt to put Frank Herbert’s massive sci-fi novel “Dune” on the screen. That’s a task that had previously confounded directors including Scott, Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch (who, to be fair, made a version, though neither he nor anybody else liked it). 

“I like to put all the chips on the table, to jump without nets,” said Villeneuve, whose other films include “Sicario,” “Prisoners” and “Arrival.” “There’s something about the beauty of the gesture when you’re taking a big risk creatively that I’m deeply comfortable with.”  Here’s an exclusive video on the making of “Dune” prepared for the Jan. 11 home video release of the film:

As you might expect from his recent filmography, the 54-year-old director was a sci-fi kid growing up in Québec, with favorites that ranged from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (“I discovered it on television and was mesmerized”) and “Planet of the Apes” (“quite terrifying”) to French graphic novelists to science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.

“Sci-fi was kind of an escape pod from reality for me,” he said. “I was obsessed with the power of science fiction, in the way it explores dark parts of the human condition in a very dynamic and poetic way.”

Villeneuve’s own sci-fi streak began with 2017 Best Picture nominee “Arrival” and continued with “Blade Runner 2049,” which he calls “a beautiful bad idea.” “Dune,” envisioned as part one of two films that will encompass Herbert’s book, is his biggest undertaking to date, creating breathtaking alien worlds but using them as backdrop to a story of power and family. To pull it off, he relied on a team of artists and craftsmen, many of whom he’s worked with in the past. “I’m starting to build a family of artists,” he said. “It’s about communication and about creative complicity.”

Dune - Denis Villeneuve and collaborators
Left to right: sound editor Theo Green, cinematographer Greig Fraser, editor Joe Walker, sound editor Mark Mangini, visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, composer Hans Zimmer, director Denis Villeneuve, costume designer Jacqueline West, production designer Patrice Vermette, costume designer Bob Morgan (Photo by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap)

In this special section, nine of Villeneuve’s key collaborators talk about their work on “Dune.”

Read more from TheWrap’s “Dune” package here:

Why ‘Dune’ Production Designers Built a ‘Visual Bible’ Before Day One of Shooting

‘Dune’ Costume Designers Were Inspired by Everything From Balenciaga to Tarot Cards to Insects

‘Dune’ Cinematographer Still Finds Sand in His Luggage 2 Years After the Shoot

The Sound of ‘Dune’: The Giant Worm Was Hard, but the Magical Voice Was Harder

Why ‘Dune’ Editor Traveled to Budapest But Wouldn’t Go on the Set

Why ‘Dune’s’ Biggest Visual Effects Challenge Wasn’t the Worms But the Sand

‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Reveals the Note That ‘Tore the Enamel Off My Teeth’

Read more from the Below-the-Line issue here.

Wrap Below-the-Line issue - Dune