In September, IFC assembled the ultimate list of films, mostly childhood favorites, which we would like to see converted into 3D and re-released for audiences. Among those films was Randal Kleiser’s watershed coming-of-age story/sci-fi adventure, “Flight of the Navigator.” Last week, we actually got an opportunity to speak with Kleiser for the DVD release of one of his lesser-known films, “Getting It Right.” During our conversation he said that he would be interested in converting “Navigator” into 3D, as well as another one of his iconic works.
“Sure – very much so,” Kleiser told IFC. “I’d love to see ‘Flight of the Navigator’ repurposed in 3D – and ‘Grease’, too. I think ‘Grease’ would be a great one in 3D. It would have to be done with really good conversion, though, because really bad conversion is worse than no conversion.”
Kleiser indicated that he has actually studied 3D photography in the past, and has a good grasp on how best to utilize the technology for filmmaking. “Sony has a class that they give to directors and cinematographers, and it’s a three-day class,” he revealed. “The first day you sit in a theater and hear lectures about how it works, all of the problems in how to do it, and on the second day, you go to a soundstage and you do it – you shoot with 3D cameras and then in the afternoon you see it projected in 3D, what you shot in the morning. You do that for two days, and that’s really helpful to learn about all of the intricacies of it.”
Having seen a variety recent films he thought some of which were converted well, and some poorly, he acknowledged that for the time being, the process is costly and time-consuming if it’s to be done right. “The way you do 3D conversion, there’s fast ways and cheap ways, and then there’s really expensive, perfect ways, and I’m sure that’s how [James] Cameron did it. I’ve studied how conversion works, and you can kind of pull things out, but that’s the kind where if you look at bad conversion, you can see that the hair is usually on the screen plane and then the person is out, and it looks weird. They look like they’re pasted onto the screen rather than look like they’re real. But if you actually spend the time to go around and rotoscope all around the hair, then it will work. I’ve done a lot of research to see what good 3D and bad 3D is.”
Originally released in 1986, “Flight of the Navigator” arrived in theaters during the heyday of Amblin entertainment, when adventure films for kids were a dime a dozen. Today, films like “Super 8” pay tribute to the ‘80s classics that still endure, but a film like Abrams’ feels like an exception rather than the rule. Kleiser indicated that he’s actually developing a potential follow-up collaboration with the writer of “Flight of the Navigator,” Mark Baker, which he hopes to make in the near future.
“I have a project that I’m trying to get off the ground by the same writer as ‘Flight of the Navigator,’ ” Kleiser said. “It’s a little darker, a little older, and I’m hoping it will get off the ground. It’s not about a boy and an alien, but it’s not this fun little romp; it’s more scary and just offbeat. But I’m very excited about that, and I do hope we get that off the ground. So that is something that I’m looking into doing.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the project, however, he’s unsure whether Hollywood is still interested in these types of stories, although he hopes that the industry is. “We’re just about to take it around,” he revealed. “I’m not sure whether it’s going to work or not, but I hope it does.”