After picking up the top honour at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Mel Gibson talked to Screen about a return to directing, a possible move into television and reuniting with Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner.
Mel Gibson has been back in front of the camera for upcoming action sequel The Expendables 3 and Jean-Francois Richet’s Blood Father, which recently wrapped in New Mexico.
But after accepting the Crystal Globe for artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the director of Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto is hungry to get back behind the camera.
“I do, of course,” said Gibson, when asked by Screen if he would want to direct again. “It’s difficult because you have to spend a couple of years of your life doing it.
“Whatever it is you’re going to do, you have to make sure it’s going to mean something because it’s too much effort just to mail it home. But I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to fool around with.”
Gibson co-founded Icon Productions in 1989, which was behind his 1993 directorial debut, The Man Without a Face, and still has a stake in the business. But he would not look to take on the challenge of fundraising as he did with his previous two epics.
“Nobody would fund Apocalypto or Passion [of the Christ] so I had to do it myself,” he recalled. “But I’m out of the business now so I have to find something that somebody else wants to fund.”
Sat in a hot hotel room in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary, Gibson has an intense presence and is clearly serious when it comes to the business of filmmaking and storytelling.
“I just want to tell a good story and have it be very visceral,” he explained. “Not have it be too wordy but so that you can mostly – almost like a silent movie – just watch what’s going on and still glean probably 70% of it without having the hear dialogue.”
Famously, his 2004 feature The Passion of the Christ was spoken in Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew while 2006’s Apocalypto was in the Mayan language.
“I think to just visually put a story up there – as series of images that tells a story and elicits emotions from people – that’s what we’re all trying to do as filmmakers,” he added.
“We’re trying to involve the audience, make something compelling and make them leave a little different. Change them in some way.”
Asked if he would take his filmmaking to television, Gibson said: “Of course. I think it’s a very interesting medium now.
“It doesn’t matter where you do the work and in what format, so long as it’s fulfilling with great images. TV is going through this amazing period right now that seems to have a lot more freedom and agility than filmmaking.”
However, he does not subscribe to the ‘box set’ culture that has emerged through the likes of DVD and Netflix. “The binge-watching thing, I don’t understand where people get the time to do it,” he said. “I do not understand. I can’t.”
Reuniting with Donner
Gibson secured his leading man status with action features such as 1979’s Mad Max, which he introduced to hordes of screaming fans on Friday at an outdoor screening in Karlovy Vary, and the Lethal Weapon series, directed by Richard Donner.
Donner is now 84 but Gibson is hopeful of acting for the director again. “I’m sure it will happen,” he said. “He ain’t out of the game. He’s not a youngster but he’s still vital. He’s still very much alive and I think you’ll see him get up and crack one out of the park.”
Later in the evening, Gibson helped introduce a screening of Apocalypto with an on-stage Q&A and made reference to his high-profile troubles in recent years, including battles with alcohol, racist comments and arrest.
Recalling his experience making Oscar-winner Braveheart, Gibson said: “They tried to bust me for cruelty to animals.” (The horse in question was mechanical)
Interviewer Marek Eben reacted: “You seem to be always getting busted.”
Gibson held out his hands as if to be handcuffed and said: “I will just save time and apologise for something right now.”
After Eben made a reference to God, Gibson added: “If he’s not forgiving, we are all in deep shit.”