One movie generating a lot of buzz right now is Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which is hitting the streets this Friday.
The film centres on a young girl who is institutionalized by her wicked stepfather. While in the institution, she retreats to an alternative reality as a coping strategy and conjures up a plan to make her escape from the facility.
I recently got the chance to speak with Paul Becker, who is perhaps one of the hardest working people behind the scenes in the movies. Paul did most of the dance and movement choreography that you will see in the film, and was more than happy to talk with me about it.
SciFiPulse: For those that are living under a rock, what is Sucker Punch and how did you become involved with it?
Paul Becker: Sucker Punch is going to be epic. It’s a film that I came about doing because I’d worked with one of the producers.
Jim Rowe called me and asked me to come into a meeting with Zack [Snyder]. Now, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew who Zack Snyder was and it was about to big. From the beginning the idea of Sucker Punch was so complex that even Zack has a tough time describing it because it is such a fantastical world he’d created.
He started to explain to me about these giant dance numbers he wanted in the show and to figure out ways to make them fit because the show really takes place in a brothel.
Once I’d met with him, he explained these concepts to me. I met with Rick Carter, who won the Academy Award for his Art Design on Avatar.
From there Rick and I would come up with these ideas to pitch to Zack, and Rick would draw them up with concepts for each girl. We pitched them to Zack and Zack would say, ‘Cool! Let’s get them to workshop,’ and I’d get them all into the dance shop and really start creating, and we came up with some amazing numbers.
SFP: In movies like Sucker Punch, there can often be a fair bit of fight choreography required. So how closely did you work with the fight choreographer?
Paul Becker: There was only really one small sequence where I worked with the fight choreographer. On a lot of movies, because I’m a fight choreographer as well, I do work. I do choreograph fighting, but for Sucker Punch, Damon [Caro] had such a huge responsibility that our two worlds didn’t meet to much because he had a huge responsibility and I had a big responsibility and there were so many things in the script to look after.
So there was only really one part in the script where we both co-ordinated, and that was for a moment with Baby Doll. That was really the only time that we both co-ordinated.
Usually I do have to work hand in hand with the fight choreographer, and its cool because dance choreography is so similar. Everything has to do with timing.
SFP: My friend says that he’s had a few dancers come his way on various productions he’s done the fight stuff for and has often found that they pick things up a little quicker than the fighters. Would you say that that fight choreography and dance are so similar in many ways?
Paul Becker: I’d definitely say that if you look at movies like Kung Fu Hustle and films similar to that. Even in Sucker Punch the fight is choreographed, and is done with such care that it could be a dance.
SFP: What sort of fighting styles influenced the choreography in the movie?
Paul Becker: He used everything. It’s everything from close quarters to Kung Fu. Each girl has her own thing, but yes, he was influenced by so many different styles.
SFP: How much wirework and green screen did you have to do, and how difficult was it working with those?
Paul Becker: Yes, this is a huge Zack Snyder movie, so everything’s on a wire. I’d say about 70 percent of it is wirework.
Damon had to do a scene where Abbie [Cornish] was flying through the air.
SFP: How did you find working with the female leads on the movie, and how quickly did they pick up the routines that you set for them?
Paul Becker: They were great. Each girl has her own challenge, whether it be the ability each day to just cope with the routine. They were all hard workers. In the film, there’s a big song and dance number, and they worked pretty much every day with us for a good eight months.
Jamie [Chung] did a Tango, and for one routine, her background as a belly dancer came in useful. She has a pretty good dance background, so it came easy to her.
Abbie had a contemporary number and surprisingly, it all came easy to her as well.
SFP: I noticed on IMDB that you are currently at work on the new Twilight movie. What sort of choreography do they have you working on for that, and do you get much time working with the three main leads?
Paul Becker: If I told you that, I’d have to kill you!
We’d get one of the cast members to suck your blood. I can’t talk about it yet, but I can say I’m having a lot of fun on it.
SFP: You halfway through this or have you only really just started on it?
Paul Becker: I actually just started. Last week was my first week. I’ll be filming it all the way through April.
SFP: So having met everyone, are you getting a good feeling about the film?
Paul Becker: Yes, and Bill Condon the director is amazing to work with, too. It’s going to be a good movie.
SFP: I notice that you’ve also done some work on the first exclusively made for Internet movie, ‘A Girl Walks Into A Bar.’ What sort of contribution did you make to that? Did Danny Devito break dance? I’d really like to see that.
Paul Becker: Yes, and I’m sure he could, too, but I did a big number with a bunch of girls. There’s a burlesque scene in the film. It was a really fun film to work on even though it was a small film. It should be out in the UK soon as well.
SFP: Having choreographed all the movement and dance in Sucker Punch, is there a specific routine in the film that you’re most proud of and look forward to hearing audience feedback on?
Paul Becker: Jena Malone’s dance is probably one of my favorites and she was a femme bot nurse that had to dance with a bunch of femme bot girls. She had a full dance and everything.
It was pretty awesome to work on.
By Ian M. Cullen