THE SIXTH DAY: Roger Spottiswoode , Part 2 -

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THE SIXTH DAY: Roger Spottiswoode , Part 2

The director of Arnold Schwarzenegger's science-fiction thriller discusses the difficulties of special effects and the ethics of cloning.

By Craig D. Reid     November 17, 2000

For Part One of my conversation with Roger Spottiswoode, I ventured out onto rooftops of Canada, where the , director of The Sixth Day was setting up one of the many action sequences in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film. At that time, he demurred when asked to explain the shots he was lining up ('Can I talk to you after I've made them?'). Now, over three months later, I sit down again with Spottiswoode in his Santa Monica office, where he is more than willing to describe details he didn't have time to discuss on set.


SPOTTISWOODE: The visual effects absorb so much time and they kind of overpower the film because they are technically difficult. As you're editing and they're not finished, you can't see them as part of the film, so you don't really get the opportunity to look at the whole film and cut them up. The visual effects shots were arriving during the dub, and that's completely unfair for a director who is only now seeing the film together when he could well have decided months ago to cut certain shots down and put things in different places. These are really just one element of the film and how does the filmstory and charactersplay? So then you must re-edit the film accordingly, and the visual effect shots will be longer or shorteror whatever will happen to themas we go along. But because they are different, they take longer; they're more time intensive than any other process. The other process, which is the more proper process of filmmaking, is telling the story, learning the characters, giving them life, giving it immediacy.


Absolutely, they can easily take over for you. One can easily understand their point of view, because they have, like other departments, a very narrow focus, and it's your job to balance all of that particularly on visual effects. They come onto set and they say you have to make the shot this way and shoot it on this system and have to do it this way, and they use this terrible machine that rumbles along the tracks and makes so much noise that the actor can't think, let alone speak, and you can't record what they say; all you hear is 12 motors going bss, bss, bss.


[Laughs] Oh no, I'm saying that it's a very complicated issue for me and that this is a film that is very much different for me, and I had to achieve it using visual effects. This film is about the interesting issues around cloning and of course more about when technology and humanity bump. This film is not against technology, nor is it against cloning. It deals with all sorts of issues that are around us. It doesn't say that science is evil or bad. It's a bit about the ethics of the future and the moral issues that we might face. The new technology that seems 30 years away is in fact only 6 or so years away. So just how far away are these ethical conditions? Like with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. At the time that book came out, it seemed so far away, but now it's probable and almost headlines.

Tony Goldwyn's character Michael Drucker is following a path that in reality is already happening that wasn't happening when we started this film. In the film, he has developed a new tuna, new beef and new wheatlike Monsanto has now developed a new wheat and, a few months ago, a new salmon that the New York Times reported was 70% heavier and larger than a normal salmon. I'm sure there will be a new cow. I mean the Europeans consistently complain that American beef coming into the country are modified. So that raises all these issues.

So our character has made his initial fortunes like Bill Gates on Microsoft. In 2007 he started to clone organs from animals. That has also been reported while we are shooting. Stem cells can be used to clone organs; it's not done yet, but it's clear we're on that path. So in essence our time period for the future is 20 years, but in reality, it's more like 10 years.

Replacement Industries has gone and made its money feeding the world and now moves into replacing the individual. We have a scene where the Speaker of the House has a son with a brain tumor, and during a speech at a party, Drucker talks about a child in a hospital who needs a new kidney; we can replace it with a clone immediately. But there is a child with a brain tumor, and under current laws we can't do this sort of stuff. So we really have a contradiction, and the film deals with these issues, because there are really no easy answers. And then you have the question of your soul. Basically, it is just your memories that are going to continue. So part of the discussion is what is your soul and can it be made in the lab? Can a clone have a soul? There is also license that we can take in terms of the memory, that you can actually record a memory and implant that nerve in the body. But the implantation of memory is again fictitious; however, in Wire magazine a few moths ago, they reported on molecular memory and organic memory. Instead of hard drives spinning around [he points to a computer], memory can be stored in a liquid. So a source of liquid can have as much as your brain.


It's not polemical and it raises all sorts of interesting issues, but in the end it's finally pro-technology, pro-science and pro-advancement. You can't reject ideas or run away from them. These are interesting dilemmas we'll have to grapple with, but you can't grapple with them by turning your back on advancement of knowledge. It's only life. As Goldwyn says, 'God or something gave use the capacity to learn and to become more than we were before. So what's wrong, we probably have to take over where God left off.' Who takes over is the issue. A person who could be bad or a benevolent government?

It didn't have that much action in it. Arnold was prepared to step away from doing an action film; this could never become an action movie, or if it did, it wouldn't be a very interesting. It's a suspense-thriller with a lot of interesting ideas. Arnold was uncertain about doing the film for very interesting reasons. He thought the Tony Goldwyn character wasn't very good. He didn't have to be a monster; he's really done a lot of good but has probably stepped on too many toes in the needs for scientific advancement. He already has a lot of money and wasn't trying to make more money but was interested in ideas, and that is kind of a dangerous but interesting. I wanted this guy to be reasonable and have a lot of telling and powerful arguments, and you just couldn't say that is just the villain. So then you get all sorts of shades of gray, and it becomes much more interesting. and [that is] why this film is much more reasonable.

So our main character is a pilot and takes Drucker snowboarding, but for personal reason at the last minute he trades off with his partner, so Michael Drucker flies off with who he thinks is Adam Gibson. And then right-to-life extremists shoot everyone. They have Adam Gibson's records, clone him and discover Adam is out there and it was the different pilot that was dead. So they must erase their mistake and get rid of the clone, because if anyone discovers that it's possible, there would be problems. It's not like say Multiplicity, where it's the comedy of having several of the same, but about the dilemma of whatever happens if you duplicate. It's a smart thriller where the issues are a central part of the story and not an evil clone like Hollywood likes to present these things.


Only that it has to do with life projection and things with memory. It really is it's own entity.

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