Director David Ayer ("Training Day") told a Comic-Con audience on Saturday that "Hollywood has lost its way" in making movies without heart, as he presented scenes from his new, independently-made cop drama, "End of Watch."
"In Hollywood we've lost our way," Ayer told the Hall H audience. "Technology has overwhelmed the heart. I wanted to bring filmmaking brought back to the heart. True characters, with defined relationships, which made the industry for 80 years."
With "End of Watch," Ayer has made another in a series of intense cop dramas that define the mean streets of gang-infested Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal, who beamed in a video greeting, and Michael Pena, who greeted the crowd in person, star as partners in a squad car, tough as nails as they cope with the dangers of the inner city.
(Pictured: Ayer, right, and Pena at Comic-Con.)
To make the film, Ayer made a special camera that he attached to the actors, giving the film a gritty, video vérité feel from footage actually shot by the actors themselves.
"He strapped these cameras onto us," said Pena. "He built these weird contraptions, and I'm like the Mexican Robocop, trying to keep Jake in frame."
Ayer said that viewers now expect an immediacy in video. "People see movies differently these days," he said. "You have YouTube, you have (the video game) 'Call of Duty,' you expect a certain image of reality. This technique I call informed by POV. Sometimes in the body of the movie the actors are filming with cameras they hold."
In the clip shown at Comic-Con, Gyllenhaal does voice-over to footage shot from the front seat of a cop car, complete with the LAPD time stamp on the video.
As they chase gang-bangers in a town car, Gyllenhaal intones, "I'm the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love. I can be killed. We stand watch together. A thin blue line, protecting the prey from the predators. We are the police."
Ayer has made a similar movie before called "Harsh Times," starring Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez as hard-core partners in Los Angeles. The movie had distribution problems and wasn't widely seen.
"End of Watch" will be distributed by Open Road.