As part of the Entertainment Weekly series of 'Visionaries' panels, this year saw Edgar Wright, Alfonso Cuarón and Marc Webb united to talk about storytelling, filmmaking and their new films: The World's End, Gravity and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 respectively. And to hear them tell it, their approach shares a lot. But first, the love-in! "I'm in an Alfonso-Edgar sandwich. It's a pretty great place to be," laughs Webb.
Each then discussed their latest films - and made it sound like they faced the same challenges throughout (some of the same crew even worked on all three). Wright summed up his approach to the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and The World's End simply. "It's usually taking something in our lives and adding maximum devastation."
That chimed with Webb, who said: "It's taking really relatable personal relationships and making them really extreme. What I realised as I got older is that it's the things that are meaningful and exciting that I enjoy the most in these movies; it's really fun, in the middle of maximum devastation, to have something really small that means something."
Cuarón explained his inspiration for Gravity in similar terms. "I guess it was the idea of one single human floating in space, completely alone, and the idea of doing that character and turn everything into a suspenseful action film with minimal elements, and trusting to cinematic media to be able to put the audience in space with that character." He's originally planned to make the movie in a year, but soon realised that the necessary technology didn't exist so it took over four years. What did he have to invent? Is it top secret and patent-pending? "No, it's just boring as hell!" He also revealed that George Clooney and Sandra Bullock competed to mimic his accent. "They both suck! They portray me as Cuban not Mexican!"
Webb talked about Electro's effect on Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. "I think the most important thing he brings out in Peter is the ability to empathise with people you don't want to empathise with. In order to solve the problems that Electro presents to Spider-Man, he has to empathise with him and understand him; that's the challenge to bring out in the script. It can be fun to hate the bad guy, but there has to be an emotional component to make it more interesting."
What's next for the trio? Well, they were willing to spill a little. Edgar Wright: "I'm going to be doing Ant-Man. I'm making this movie for Marvel next. People ask me why it's taking so long, and I say I want to do it with 2015 effects not 2005 effects," adding of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, "people always give me grief for not doing a third series of Spaced so we said we'd do a trilogy and we did; that's one promise we kept. I definitely want to work with those guys again though."
Marc Webb: "I want to finish The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There are many things but I'm so involved right now. There's more Spider-Man but other projects down the road. There are some musicals and a physical comedy that I'd like to happen."
Alfonso Cuarón: "Gravity was an amazing miscalculation; it took longer than I thought. It was supposed to be out last November and we weren't ready; I still haven't finished it! But I would like to do a horror movie."
The World's End is out now in the UK. Gravity arrives on October 18, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 follows on April 18, 2014.