‘Deadpool’: EP John Kelly on Adapting Marvel Comics, Production, Key Scenes, and More

     December 1, 2015


Earlier this year, when director Tim Miller’s Deadpool movie was filming in Vancouver, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. While I was already excited to finally see Rob Liefeld’s most popular character come to life onscreen, after speaking with most of the cast and the filmmakers, I left convinced we’re really in for a special treat with Deadpool. Unlike a lot of comic book movies that play it safe and deliver PG-13 dialogue, the Deadpool movie is going to shift the boundaries of what a superhero movie can and should do. It’s going to be loaded with sex, violence, great dialogue, and mayhem. It’s exactly what I want a Deadpool movie to be. I cannot wait for February 12, 2016 when the film hits theaters.

While on set, I was able to participate in a group interview with producer John Kelly. He talked about staying close to the universe of the comic book, trying to accomplish the scope and scale with the budget, collaborating with Tim Miller, the most complex scene to pull off, and more.

Was this scene conceived to be shot in the rain or was that something you had to adapt to?


Image via Marvel

JOHN KELLY: We wanted it to be gloomy and sort of dark, and I think these are good days to do that, but when it’s raining it’s sort of hard for continuity because you’ve got some scenes without the rain coming down. Most of the time if there’s a light rain coming down you can’t really see it if you’ve shot it the right way. It’s things like this big tractor outside, if rain is coming down like a little waterfall that’s what catches your eye rather than the actual rain in the air or something. There’s challenges, hopefully it stops or you get this big forty by sixty truss systems we’ve got hanging by construction cranes and you try to at least cover some of the working area.

Are you staying close to the universe of the comic book or are you just inspired by it and telling a different story?

JK: Very close I believe, as much as we can. I think a lot of those things, Tim, Ryan, and the writers probably can get into more, they’ve spent years getting this movie made, I came on about 8 months ago. I do shows from show to show for Fox and so Fox called me up and said ‘You’re doing Deadpool,’ and I said, ‘Great!’ That’s when I went down and met Tim, he’d been on this for years, the writers had been on this for years, so they’ve been very patient in trying to see this get made.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you?

JK: I think it was at first trying to keep what Deadpool looked like, it was let’s keep that at a priority, until we got to the overpass that you’ve probably already seen photographs on the internet now. Sort of figuring out when we were going to release the first looks and when those were going to be sent out by Fox. But it was really how do we find a place that we can be on top of an overpass and find the grit that we want and sort of make this world be as close as we can to what people are expecting.

Where are you sitting with the rest of the X-Men films, the old ones and the current ones?

JK: I’ll let Tim and the writers answer that one. There are certain questions I’d like those guys to ask and answer.

Talk about where you are in the production schedule and how many days is the shoot, stuff like that.

JK: We are 48 days right now, in terms of planned shoot. We’ve got second unit for about fifteen days. We’re about sixty percent of the way through. We go from here to the flight deck, which you’ll see, in theory you sort of see it in these pieces right here. So there’s an aircraft carrier of sort up against where this river is that you don’t see, that we’ll sort of build in, and what you guys will go and see is the actual flight deck for the top of that. So we’re intermingling this set and the next location that you’re going to go see, and so we’ve got 4 weeks left.

Talk a little bit about, obviously this is not one of those $100 million X-Men movies, it’s a little more intimate, if you will. What’s been the biggest challenge in terms of trying to accomplish the scope and scale with the budget you guys have?


Image via 20th Century Fox

JK: I think we’ve done a really good job at doing what we wanted to do with the money we have. Knowing that we had a certain amount of money we actually went in there and looked at what we had in the script and the plan and sort of made it work. I would say most of what Tim wants in this as a director, I hope he’s getting, because we’ve come up to Vancouver. You get a really great deal In Vancouver in terms of rebates on special effects, rebates on all the local crew. I would say 95% of the crew here are local. Our idea was how do we make this as big as we can with the money we have and where can we make that movie, and that turned out to be Vancouver. We got the overpass, the city let us shut that down, that became a big savings for us rather than having to build it we got to shut down the freeway for two weeks. It was really trying to bring in as few people as possible, use all of the really talented resources here and sort of what you’re getting for the same amount of money for a bigger show you’re getting all the services and quality that you would expect on something a little more expensive. We’re very excited, we haven’t cut much out of the show at all so we’re very excited about hopefully saving money and putting more in visual effects and getting a bigger and better show for everybody.

What’s it been like working with Tim since this is his first feature?

JK: He’s a sweetheart. He’s wonderful. Really sincere guy, I’ve worked with a lot of different directors. He loves this character, he loves X-Men, he’s a comic book guru. He owns a company called Blur Studios and I went there, that was my first meeting with him, and he’s got this book shelf that’s probably three meters high and maybe five meters wide and it’s got thousands and thousands of comics, that just sort of sits at this warehouse loft place. He loves the story, he loves the world of X-Men. He’s one of their biggest fans in terms of filmmakers. I think you’ll get a lot more out of this movie because he is who he is, and I think it will be true to the universe of who Deadpool is. Good guy though [Laughs].

We see that Colossus is going to be added in later. Can you talk about the characters surrounding Deadpool in the movie?

JK: I’ll let Tim talk about that, I don’t want to take all the thunder just because I’m first [Laughs]. I can talk about … What Can I talk about? I can talk about Rhett and Paul, they’ve been on the show for five, six years. You’ll meet them. You’ll love them. They also did Zombieland. Great guys, very involved, they’re on set daily. Ryan is very involved too, he’s one of our producers as well. So you’ve got a group of filmmakers that are here to make a really great movie and we’ve all sacrificed a little bit here and there in order to put it on the screen, which is the best way to make movies, rather than taking it away from the screen. I’m very happy to be a part of it, I had other shows and this one is the most interesting. I think it has the biggest potential for a surprise for everybody, I think people will see this and really get excited that it’s not the normal comic book hero sort of movie.

You mentioned second unit, how much is second unit shooting throughout the movie and who is your second unit director?

JK: Rob Alonzo is our second unit director and he’s got 15 days of second unit, we start those tomorrow actually. It’s starting or continuing some of the action fights we have, a lot of action in the show. So we’ve pretty much got him non-stop, you try to make a second unit group work consecutively. We’ll start or finish in first unit the action sequences and they’ll come in and either add to it or start off the choreography and we’ll come in and finish it with our actors. There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of action.

What is the most complex scene to pull off for you?


Image via Fox

JK: I think anything you have to do with a 3D character, I’m learning a lot about that because I haven’t done a lot of those kind of movies. With Tim and our VFX guys, I think you just see how much time it takes to shoot fights when you have one person real and the other person is in the virtual world. Gina Carano is sort of fighting herself and then fighting a stand in and then fighting some pads. It’s an interesting process. You shoot it again and again to make it look great but assembly wise it looks wonderful.

Can you talk about the tone of the movie, is it pretty consistent with the test footage?

JK: I’ll let Tim talk about that, I’m not going to take away all the thunder.

What’s it like working with Ryan as a producer?

JK: Great, absolutely involved. Just really serious about making it right and making it good. Sometimes you get on these shows and it’s so long and everyone’s tired and everyone will just say “It’s good enough, let’s move on,” and here it’s never good enough, we got to make it better, and that was the one thing right from the time I started the show, Ryan was involved with texts, emails, conversations all the times. He loves the character, just so into it. Any job that you come to work and everybody is excited about the work that you do, whether it’s making movies or making cookies, it just makes it so much more enjoyable and so much more rewarding because everyone is invested in the same thing to make a great product, a great movie, a great story. I’ve been on a lot of sets, and this is enjoyable. A lot of happiness, a lot of hard work, a lot of rain, but it’s really about let’s make the best Deadpool movie we can.

Did you shoot on film or digital and why?

JK: We shot on digital and I think that’s pretty much where we’re going. I haven’t made a movie on film in about five or six years, I don’t miss it [Laughs]. For me, giving people hard drives and capturing an unlimited amount of footage as needed and being wasteful in terms of letting it run, compared to film where you have a thousand foot mag and you would run out of film so you were shutting down every time on a film where you’re watching film count. It’s a whole different world. You get far more options in terms of the digital. You get it back immediately and that night you get home you can see dailies, or the next day see dailies of what you shot where sometimes it’s a day and a half or two days on film. I don’t miss films. Any of you guys carrying film cameras or all digital?

Are you shooting in 3D?

JK: 2D. At this point there are no 3D plans for this film. That’s what I’m told [Laughs].

Deadpool will be released in theaters nationwide on February 12th, 2016.

For more from our Deadpool set visit:


Image via Fox


Image via Fox


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