Aaron Schneider welcomed working with Tom Hanks on their new film “Greyhound” as it was “Saving Private Ryan” which inspired his first film as a director. “Tom’s production company has a long history of WWII projects with ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Pacific’ and they defined the state of the art in creating authentic productions.” Schneider was part of Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts panel, conducted virtually by this writer (watch the exclusive video above).
“Greyhound,” which is an Apple TV+ release, unfolds during the Battle of the Atlantic. American ships filled with troops and supplies engaged in a game of cat and mouse to avoid the German U-boats. Hanks adapted C.S. Forester’s novel “The Good Shepherd” and plays the captain of a fleet of three dozen ships.
Schneider detailed the expansive research he undertook before filming began. “I had enough time in pre-production that I could go online and do a deep dive into all aspects of WWII. The film was based on the actual analog workings of a destroyer, the effort it takes to find and hunt these U-boats so I wanted to make sure I understood it well enough to mine it dramatically.”
Schneider, who started as cinematographer, spoke expansively about his collaboration on this film with lenser Shelly Johnson. “I asked Shelly to get involved in understanding how these ships work so that when it came time to dramatize the things that mattered in the story, he understood them organically.”
Virtually all of the battle scenes and ocean vistas were created using visual effects. The director’s goal was to make everything created digitally look as though it had been captured during a real battle. As Schneider explains, that was achieved in post by working with Double Negative’s Nathan McGuinness to meld the shot foreground with the VFX. “It’s a film about experience, about moving across the North Atlantic; it’s a survival film essentially.”
Schneider won an Oscar for his first film as a helmer, the live-action short “Two Soldiers” in 2005. “Greyhound” is his second feature as a director and comes 11 years after he won an Indie Spirit award for his first, “Get Low.”
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