If you’ve been following along at home, you already know that “Kick-Ass” traveled a long road to the big screen, beginning with Vaughn’s decision to finance the film independently in order to preserve his vision for the project. After the first footage from the film earned rave reviews during San Diego’s Comic-Con International, Lionsgate picked up distribution for the film back in August 2009 and the edgy superhero tale premiered in April, winning its box office weekend and igniting no small amount of controversy.
I spoke with Vaughn to get his take on the film’s unique “Making Of” story, the lessons he learned from the project, and the editing room decisions behind the final “Kick-Ass” cut. Oh, and don’t worry — there’s some talk of “Kick-Ass 2” in there, too.
MTV NEWS: Every film that gets released on DVD and Blu-Ray these days comes with a “Making Of” documentary, but given what you went through to make the film, I’d guess that the “Kick-Ass” version of the “Making Of” doc is very different from the norm. Is that a fair statement?
MATTHEW VAUGHN: Well, obviously, the film is entirely independent — so there’s that. We raised the money independently because no Hollywood studio would make the film, even though when they all saw the finished film, they were all very keen to buy it. But at the time, they couldn’t see the potential of the script. I couldn’t quite communicate to them the idea I had in my head for how the film should turn out.
I worked with our documentary producer before, and we got him involved right at the inception of the film, almost in a very early pre-production, to interview everybody and film the entire process very, very thoroughly. Because it’s an independent movie, we had total freedom to show the entire ugly process of making a film.
It’s a very tense, fun and creative, but tough, process. In the documentary, we didn’t hold back with any controversy or the arguments we had — it’s everything we went through to make the film, in terms of creative discussion and disagreements. Everything is in there. I was very keen on people getting a true account of the making of the film.
MTV: Did the fimmaking process feel different while you were making “Kick-Ass”? Do you feel like that comes across in the documentary?
VAUGHN: We weren’t going to hide anything from the documentary producer. We did have a lot of fun making the film, because it was independent and we could do whatever we wanted. If we wanted to try and do something controversial, we could just go ahead and do it. We didn’t need to check with the filmmaking committee like you’d probably have to do with most studio movies today, where people are writing a large check and its important that they’re involved with the making of the film and that they’re happy with the production. I was producing “Kick-Ass” with a group of friends, really, and so I think that atmosphere of friends getting together to make a movie comes across well.
MTV: A big part of every DVD release is the “Deleted Scenes” section. What were some of the tough decisions you made in the “Kick-Ass” editing room?
VAUGHN: There’s some really great stuff with Hit Girl and Big Daddy that we had to cut. To be honest, there are about 17 minutes of scenes that we cut out of the film that are very good scenes. They’re funny, they’re entertaining, they’re warm-hearted, but for one reason or another they ever so slightly slowed the narrative of the film down. I’m very keen on making a film which doesn’t drag in the cinema and that audiences will want to go back and watch again because it’s very entertaining from start to finish.
What you saw in the theaters was the director’s cut of the film, because once again, I was producing and Lionsgate wanted to make the film we wanted to make — and they didn’t ask for any changes to be made. So in the spirit of making a movie that played really well, I was pretty ruthless with the scenes that didn’t earn their place in the film. We worked for a very long time to come up with the finished cut, but there is some great stuff between Hit Girl and Big Daddy, and there are some very funny scenes between Kick-Ass and Red Mist which audiences were killing themselves laughing at, but the story just slowed down a bit too much.
MTV: What about Mark Millar’s cameo? He told us a little about it back before the movie premiered…
VAUGHN: Mark Millar’s cameo was toward the beginning of the movie. If you remember the film, after you have the flashback of Dave (Aaron Johnson) standing over his mother’s grave, we used to go to the graveyard where her grave is and we used to see him sitting and reading a comic book. He would say, “I was sad to leave my mom and I live my life through comics” or something along those lines. Mark Millar kind of sat in the background of that scene.
But we showed the same graveyard later in the film, just before he goes to see Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca) and confess who he is.
MTV: Will we ever see an “Extended Version” of the film that inserts all these scenes you mentioned?
VAUGHN: If we ever do release an extended cut of the movie, all these scenes will be in there so you’ll be able to see them, but I’m very keen for people to see the film how it was presented theatrically, because that is the director’s cut of the film. That should be the cut that reaches the widest audience.
MTV: With everything that happened during the “Kick-Ass” process, what was your biggest takeaway from the experience? What was the most important lesson you learned?
VAUGHN: Probably the biggest thing I learned was to trust my gut instinct when making a film. I’d listened to a lot of feedback from people, but in the end what we ended up doing was very close to my initial gut feeling. On every level — casting and shooting, production design, lighting, everything I had a very strong gut feeling about — however much I went ’round thinking about the options available to me, I always came back to my gut feeling and that felt right and ended up being what was right for the film. [It was] just trusting that and allowing that to guide you rather than being distracted by too many differing opinions around you.
Still, I like listening to any ideas from the creative team, because it’s important to make the best film and everyone’s ideas are valid. if someone came up with a good idea, we used it, but generally I listened to my gut, and that’s what I learned from this film.
MTV: You have “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” behind you now, and “X-Men: First Class” ahead of you. You’re no stranger to adapting fan-favorite material, so how do you find the balance between making the film you envision and satisfying a very active, very vocal fan base?
VAUGHN: I’m a fan as well, and I like to watch these movies. And I, like any fan, am disappointed when the movies aren’t quite as good as I hoped they would be. So I set the bar very high for quality. I try to always think about what I would want to see in the film, and how I can make the film better and make it appeal to me more. I’m that person in the audience watching the movie, hoping it’s going to be one of the best movies I’ve seen. I want people to trust me, to believe that I care about it as much as they do. I set my own, personal bar pretty high.
MTV: Well, with “First Class” on the horizon, are we any closer to “Kick-Ass 2” these days, or is that on hold?
VAUGHN: I would say yes, it’s still moving forward, but it’s in its very early days. It depends how the “Kick-Ass” DVD goes down. If it finds a big audience, I’m pretty sure we we will want to make a new movie. Everyone in the cast is keen to do it, and as you know, Mark Millar is writing a second comic book, and he is very keen to explore ideas for the cinematic sequel.
But it’s very early days and we can’t promise anything. It’s definitely there, and I definitely have some amazing ideas for it. It would be good fun to bring those ideas to life eventually.
“Kick-Ass” arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow (Tuesday, August 3) in standard DVD format and a special Blu-Ray Combo Pack that includes a Blu-Ray version of the film, a standard DVD, and a digital copy.
Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!
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