He works for the audience and feels a director is responsible for the fate of the film, be it a success or a failure. American filmmaker David Ayer says he initially found filmmaking “terrifying” but has now calmed down.
He also said that one of the biggest lessons that he got from showbiz was to “never quit”.
“It is easier to tell a story now. I remember being on the set in the first few movies with my brain (acting) like a machine racing and exhausting myself, trying to figure out how to visually tell a story, where to put the camera and what to tell the actors,” Ayer said.
“In a lot of ways, it was terrifying but thrilling, and now I am very calm in my job. I know where I am going, what I am going to say, what I need next and I really enjoy filming.”
Ayer, whose working credits also include writing, producing and acting, is known to pick human interest stories embedded with a moral, be it Fury, End of Watch, Training Day or his forthcoming Netflix project, Bright.
He infuses his own experiences of growing up in Los Angeles and his time in the military in the stories that he tells, making them more personal. Ayer spent the early years of his life in south-central Los Angeles and was then in the United States Navy for two years.
Ayer entered showbiz by writing screenplays for films like The Fast and the Furious, U-571, Training Day and Dark Blue, and then made his debut as a director with Harsh Times in 2005.
He was applauded for End of Watch and Fury, but got negative feedback for his 2016 film Suicide Squad, especially for the portrayal of Joker, essayed by Jared Leto.
The filmmaker says his experiences in the industry have taught him a lot.
“No matter what happens, you are responsible; never quit; you have to be open to good ideas (are some of the lessons that I learnt). Sometimes people get so closed off and you don’t want to hear anybody… You have to learn to listen to people and trust people, and learn to make a movie and not a budget,” he said, adding that “if you try to please people for whom you are making the film, sometimes you end up not pleasing the audience… And I really work for the audience.”
Be it a fantasy film or any other genre, Ayer’s movies are always filled with complex as well as flawed characters — but are deeply rooted in reality. In some way, they all reflect his own experiences.
“I lived in a tough neighbourhood in LA. It had a lot of problems, very different and very violent, and saw poverty — all these things growing up. People in the neighbourhood didn’t have the same opportunity or access to education that shaped how we see the world.”
“Whether it is right or wrong, fair or unfair, it is something that I have experienced and it is frustrating because it is good people who don’t have opportunities or who don’t have access, and they can have amazing lives, but they can’t get there like other people can. There is a little bit of that in ‘Bright’.”
“Bright” is an action-thriller that takes place in an alternate, present-day Los Angeles.
Ayer picked up a story with modern-day sensibilities but added mythological characters to give it a fantastical touch — while addressing real issues.
The film, which will premiere on Friday on the streaming site, tells the story of two police officers, one a human, the other an orc, who get thrown in together but bond and get to know each other during a rough night. There are racial undertones, a focus on diversity as well as the class divide.
As for releasing the film on Netflix instead of opting for the theatrical route, Ayer said: “…Netflix is a different game. They can make decisions based on… what the filmmaker wants — and they give you resources to make a movie.”
Ayer was in India earlier this week to promote the film with the cast Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace.