To direct the Netflix pirate adventure series “One Piece,” Marc Jobst looked to the past.
“’The Goonies’ had a huge influence. “We looked at ‘Kung Fu Hustle,’ it’s more playful, light-hearted and humorous,” Jobst told The Post.
“We sat and watched Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies. We have returned to some of these techniques. I would say to my cameramen, ‘Before you start pulling out cranes and tracks, go in, get close to the actors, feel what’s happening so we can react.'”
Now streaming on Netflix, “One Piece” is based on Japan’s best-selling manga series about a pirate crew searching for treasure.
As the show begins, the Pirate King is hanged and implores the gathered crowd to search for his treasure. The following years usher in a new age of piracy, in which everyone is looking for the legendary riches.
The series follows Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy), a young adventurer who leaves his small village determined to become the new king of the pirates. He assembles a crew to help him, including the ambitious swordsman Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu), the thief Nami (Emily Rudd), the chef Sanji (Taz Skyler) and his fellow dreamer and adventurer Usopp (Jacob Romero Gibson).
One Piece has also spawned films and an anime series, but this is the first live-action series.
“I know the world is plagued with the difficulties of adapting manga and anime into live action,” said Jobst, who is also known for directing episodes of “Daredevil,” “The Punisher” and “The Witcher.”
“But there’s something about that part that I felt like we could get into it, really find the core of it and work from there. The manga is phenomenal. It’s incredibly brilliant. The anime is extremely successful. Why do a live-action version? Because you can add something. Once you’ve figured out what a 3D version can add, you’re ready to go and get started.
“For me, this show is about believing in yourself, believing in your dreams, finding friends that are like family, staying true to those friendships and standing up for the things you believe are right.” This is a very human thing. And this isn’t just a Japanese thing where manga originated, it’s a global human experience. So when we get into it, it feels like we’re breathing emotional life into it.”
Jobst said his previous work with Marvel and “The Witcher” helped narrow his approach to “One Piece.”
“You learn to think about how you can use action to be more than ‘bish, bash, bosh.'” We really liked those big action sequences – they wanted to tell something about the story, the journey or the character. When I looked at the action sequences I learned to shoot in the Marvel Universe and The Witcher, they seemed too dark, too gritty, too sweaty and gory. “One Piece” required a different kind of action.
“So the question is, ‘How do we find the language that feels true to this world?’ And I realized that what we shoot in the Marvel world is all about the hit. While “One Piece” was more about the dance that took you on the journey to becoming a hit.”
Many of the cast are young and inexperienced in small action series, so Jobst said they spent extra time making everyone feel comfortable.
“We started casting about seven to nine months before we came on sets because it was important to make sure the tone was right. We were looking for actors who could act but had heart and spirit, that’s the magic ingredient you get on screen that’s hard to define. And also people who were physically fit and could carry out the choreography in 30 degree heat. That was a big question.
“When we started rehearsals in South Africa, we didn’t really focus on the script. We played silly games, laughed a lot, humiliated ourselves in front of each other, went to the beach and did something for the community. When we started filming, the young actors – with so much on their shoulders – trusted each other and me. That was really important.”