Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Burlesque' Director Reveals Musical's On-Set Challenges

Steven Antin tells MTV News he had to overcome technical issues while shooting dazzling Cher/ Christina Aguilera vehicle.
By Kara Warner

Directior Steven Antin and Christina Aguilera on the set of "Burlesque"
Photo: Steven Vaughn

Moviegoers who experienced the dazzling, sensual world of Cher and Christina Aguilera's "Burlesque" over the holiday weekend know that it's a film with enough showstopping song-and-dance numbers to make heads spin.

And while the characters make things appear flawless onscreen, a lot of blood, sweat and tears were shed to make that magic happen. MTV News recently caught up with "Burlesque" director Steven Antin, and we asked him which number posed the biggest challenge during filming.

"Each of them had their own set of issues," Antin admitted. "Christina's ballad, 'Bound to You,' in its absolute and total simplicity was extremely complicated in terms of lighting and colors and texture. Executing that with the amount of smoke we had in the room and the backlighting, and they way that I wanted her hands and her body to cast shadows over the audience ... it's seemingly staggeringly beautiful, but technically it was really, really difficult to execute and very time-consuming," he said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, another taxing sequence to shoot was the big finale, "Show Me How You Burlesque," a song Aguilera wrote for the movie. Antin said the sheer scale of the performance — from the number of dancers to the too-slippery dance floor to the lighting — added plenty of heat, both literally and figuratively, to the production.

"We were shooting for a long time so that was extremely challenging and difficult to execute, especially in two days," he said.

We also asked Antin about his approach when it comes to actors singing onscreen: To lip-synch or not to lip-synch?

"I always ask singers to sing every take; you have to," the first-time director said. "For me, I have to because you create a completely different image when you're lip-synching," he explained. "Your whole entire body moves differently, so I would always ask the singers to sing during their takes.

"What was extraordinary about this, was Cher was doing her solo, 'You Haven't Seen the Last of Me,' "Antin recalled. "I could hear her over the playback, perfect pitch. She still has that powerful of a voice and I was just blown away because the playback is so loud. Same with Christina, I could hear her singing over the playback and I was just completely moved and everybody was blown away by it."

Have you seen "Burlesque"? What did you think of Christina's acting debut? Tell us in the comments!

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