Michael Mann credited the influence of his friend Guillermo Del Toro, the Mexican film director, for his first appearance at San Diego’s Comic Con where he was interviewed about his forthcoming movie.
Comic Con finally confirms for us the name of Mann’s new film, the long suspected “Black Hat”. Asked about his process of creating a film, Michael Mann explains how he immerses himself into the character through exploring them in detail, to create an authentic experience for the audience – an audience that is more intelligent than it realises. He explains in front of an enthusiastic audience how the film began with a large scale crime story that was to be based in Asia (positioned perhaps therefore to an emerging Chinese commercial audience?). Mann, as is his usual approach, spent a great deal of time with Black Hat hackers, noting how when coding for 7-8 hours they enter a zone (a particular observation in David Fincher’s “Social Network”, which Mann liked), and this interests Mann. Mann speaks a lot about “being in the zone”. Mann elaborates, explaining how hackers enter into a form of “escapism into reverse”, of fantasy, but their impact is in the visible world not the invisible.
After an initial interview with Michael Mann, he then announces the first ever public showing of any part of Black Hat. Frustratingly, but understandably, the YouTube clip goes black. If ever there was a feeling of being outside the favour of the moment, that was it! Subsequent reports share how this non-public “trailer” starts by stating how technology rules our lives and it can be turned against us at any time. The trailer indicates there is plenty of fighting action in what otherwise might be perceived, by subject of the film, to be a rather dull film of a geek in a dark room tapping on a keyboard. Despite the action content, I am guessing this won’t be the same as Sandra Bullock’s “The Net”. There is a blog that offers a list of the 20 best hacker movies. Deadline encouragingly writes: “The trailer looks big scale and sensational — Mann at his best. Hemsworth plays computer hacker sprung from prison to take on a blackhat hacker.”
Evidently, after the first public showing of never before seen footage, Chris Hemsworth appears to rapturous, mainly female, applause and shouts. To all accounts, he appears contrite, with frankly not an air of any ego or arrogance – credit to the man and the actor. Chris offers interesting insights into working with Michael Mann, explaining how incredible it has been working with him. “Nobody does precision and detail like Michael Mann.” He goes on to say how it was the best experience he has ever had. Intimidated [on set] every day, Mann left Hemsworth with little room for improvisation, such is his nailed down methodical working. Together, to fulfil the realism required, both Mann and Hemsworthy met Black Hat hackers and prisoners, exploring the development of their main character’s back story. Mann shares with the interviewer has they shot an incredible 74 scenes in four countries in 66 days.
Hemsworth goes on to explain his character, Nick Hathaway, as methodical and thoughtful, with unmatched intelligence in the cyber world. From a working class background spent at a steel mill he is eventually caught up by the law for his unique hacking abilities. He is later pulled into a situation to help the law authorities with a hacking case. Hemsworth had two months of computer lessons, learning to code and to help elevate his two finger typing skills.
Mann has done his research, tapping up sources in Washington, and went to express a world of the exoskeleton of the internet and connectiveness and the co
nsequential porousness of the online world. Mann adds curious interest to his interview by highlighting how they had landed in Hong Kong to shoot one day before Snowden travelled from China to Moscow. Comic Con reiterated the release date of Black Hat being Jan 16th 2015.