The Q&A, chaired by Adrian Wootton, is embedded below. The sound quality is not ideal and you may need to turn down the volume for our questions as we were sitting rather close to the mike. However, it does make for fascinating listening to hear these talented men speak with such heart about their commitment to the project. The Pacific was filmed in its entirety in Australia and series producer Tony, also one of its six directors, was present for the whole ten month shoot. Remi was one of the show’s two cinematographers, alongside Stephen F Windon, and also spent months overseas. Both men spoke with passion and conviction about the project and their respect for the true stories they were entrusted with telling was evident throughout.
The overriding message that came across to us was that the production team had determined to tell personal stories – to maintain the intimacy of the individual experience of the lesser known Pacific front of the war, rather than taking a broad overview of its history. To this end both spoke about the importance of things happening “to the men” and not “for the camera.” If an explosion went off in the periphery of a shot, rather than being beautifully aligned front and centre for the viewer, well so be it. If a perspective was required from inside a foxhole and the actor was dug in deep, well then the camera man had better start digging! There was a real emphasis on physical as well as emotional truth. As far as possible the sets were real, every stone and blade of grass placed there for veracity. In some cases the set designers painstakingly building two and three acre jungle scenes for the actors to work in.
Having watched episodes one and two and enjoyed the Q&A we were then granted an exclusive glimpse of an action filled airfield scene from a later episode on which both men had collaborated. It was a breathtaking spectacle, made more dramatic by the knowledge that everything we saw had been experienced by the actors – there was no CGI here.
We caught up with Tony To and his wife Gina at the after party. Here they spoke more personally about how imperative it was that these stories not die with the veterans who lived through them. Gina To talked about the privilege of taking the Band of Brothers vets and their wives to France for a break before they previewed the series at Normandy. She remembered one of the wives remarking that her husband had never spoken of the experiences Tony and his team had captured onscreen. Gina and her husband were all too aware that in the ten years since Band of Brothers many of these extraordinary men had passed on and they wanted The Pacific to stand as a memorial to their stories and their sacrifice.
We also spoke with Sky’s Programme Information Editor Chris Prince who gave us an exclusive insight into what viewers can expect from the later episodes. Because The Pacific might initially appear a more acquired taste than Band of Brothers we were keen to know how the story would develop. Chris was able to assure us that, as impressive as the action in episodes one and two may be, the human stories become equally compelling. He particularly lauded the tipping point the series reaches after a period of R&R in episode three: as malaise sets in the tone alters dramatically and Leckie and his brothers in arms are hurled headlong into a hellish conflict Chris described as “relentless stuff you’ve never seen on screen before!”
When The Pacific begins on Sky Movies Premiere tonight HeyUGuys urge you to unplug the phone and take time out to discover the remarkable story of the 1st Marine Division for yourselves.
[gplayer href=”https://www.heyuguys.com/audio/pacific/tony_to_pacific.mp3″] A Q&A with Tony To [/gplayer]