Warren Ellis On His ‘Red’ Set Visit: Frozen Hipsters, Throat-Punches, And Carrot Sticks

EDITOR’S NOTE: With “Red” hitting theaters October 15, we’re kicking off the next two weeks of coverage with five days of guest columns from writer Warren Ellis, co-creator of the 2003 “Red” comic book with artist Cully Hamner. Join us all week for original columns from Ellis that will look at the origins of the comic, his favorite scenes, and much, much more! -RM


Cully got to visit the set in warm and wonderful New Orleans. They liked Cully. Cully’s a clever artist what draws the pretty pictures. Me? I got sent to Toronto in the middle of their worst winter in years. They were building shelters for the homeless out of frozen hipsters on Yonge Street, and my hotel was on full-on ice-zombie lockdown.

I’m not fond of Toronto, and I hope that when my friend Steve Murray becomes Mayor of that benighted town, the executions are both rapid and significant.

The film was shooting in a massive and quite beautiful hotel. There were a few hundred people gathered on several levels of the central atrium, watching the shoot. A man who combined patience with an air of restrained violence paced the ground floor with a megaphone, explaining that the shoot needed silence, the clear inference being that if he did not get silence then he would leap with rage to wherever the non-silent were and throat-punch them into compliance.

I keep out of the way, on a shoot. As the writer of the original material, I’m the only person there who doesn’t have a job to do. And Robert’s set was very job-focused. Not to say it was a tense set, or an unhappy set — there were lots of smiles. It’s always nice, and odd, to see so many people happy with getting on with the job. It always bodes well for the material. It didn’t hurt that the day’s shoot was all about Dame Helen Mirren and Mr. John Malkovich, people who are just so good that they make professionalism seem relaxed.

Producers make a difference to a set. Lorenzo di Bonaventura was there — just leaving, actually, as I recall — and Lorenzo’s a big presence who creates a certain surety. Mark Vahradian was there, and he’s one of those people who reminds you that being a producer is an actual bloody job, something that requires work and time and constant movement.

The only real disappointment is that the craft services table — the food provision for the set — was not, as is my usual experience, groaning with sugary baked goods and other yummy things. Some godless pervert had replaced the goodies with carrot sticks, green stuff, low-fat dips and other objects that I presume were food, but appeared not to be made out of sugar or meat. I was frankly disgusted, and considered boycotting the entire production.

And then Mark took me to the hotel’s excellent restaurant and poured wine into me until I was happy again.

You see what I mean about a film needing a good producer?

— Warren Ellis

(Photo courtesy of Zoetica Ebb)

Keep it locked to Splash Page all week for more from “Red” co-creator Warren Ellis. You can also find Warren Ellis online at www.WarrenEllis.com and on Twitter. “Red” hits theaters October 15, and stars Bruce Willis, Karl Urban, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, and Richard Dreyfuss.

Let us know what you think of this guest column from Warren Ellis in the comment section or on Twitter!

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