To direct the Netflix pirate adventure show “One Piece,” Marc Jobst looked into the past.
“‘The Goonies’ was a big influence. We looked at ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ it’s more playful, joyous, and humorous,” Jobst told The Post.
“We sat and looked at Charlie Chaplin films, Buster Keaton films. We went back into some of those techniques. I’d say to my camera operators, ‘Before you start bringing out cranes and tracks, get in there, get close to the actors, feel what’s happening, so that we can respond.’”
Now streaming on Netflix, “One Piece” is based on Japan’s highest-selling manga series about a pirate crew searching for treasure.
At the beginning of the show, the pirate king is hung, and he implores the gathered crowd to search for his treasure. The ensuing years spawn a new age of piracy, as everyone races to find the fabled riches.
The show 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, including ambitious swordsman Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu), thief Nami (Emily Rudd), chef Sanji (Taz Skyler), and fellow dreamer and adventurer Usopp (Jacob Romero Gibson).
“One Piece” has also spawned movies and an anime series, but this is the first live-action series.
“I know the world is fraught with the difficulties of turning 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 this one that I felt like we could swim into this, and really find the heart of it, and work out from there. The manga is phenomenal. It’s outrageously brilliant. The anime is hugely successful. Why do a live action version? Because you can add something to it. When you identify what a 3-D version can add, then you’re off and ready to go.
“To me, this show is about believing in yourself, believing in your dreams, finding friendships that are like family, being loyal to those friendships, standing up to things that you think are right. That’s a very human thing. And that’s not just a Japanese thing, where the manga originated, it’s a global human experience. So if we lean into that, it felt like we were bringing emotional life to it.”
Jobst said that his previous work with Marvel and “The Witcher” helped narrow down his approach to “One Piece.”
“You learn to think about how can you use action to be more than ‘bish, bash, bosh.’ We were really keen with these big action sequence – that they were informing about the story, journey, or character. When I looked at the action sequences I learned to shoot in the Marvel universe and ‘The Witcher,’ they felt too gritty, too dark, too sweaty and bloody. ‘One Piece’ called for a different kind of action.
“So the question then is ‘How do we find the language that feels truthful to this world?’ And it became clear to me that what we were shooting in the Marvel world is all about the hit. Whereas ‘One Piece’ was more about the dance that took you on the journey to the hit.”
Many of the cast members are young and inexperienced on bit action shows, so Jobst said they spent extra time making everyone feel comfortable.
“We started casting maybe 7-9 months before we got on the sets, because it was important to make sure the tone was right. We were looking for actors that could act, but had heart, had a spirit that is that magical ingredient you get on the screen that’s quite indefinable. And also, people who were physical and could carry the choreography in 90 degrees heat. That was a big ask.
“When we started rehearsing in South Africa, we didn’t concentrate on the script much. We played silly games, laughed a lot, humiliated ourselves in front of each other, went to the beach, we did some community work. So, by the time we started shooting, this young cast – on whose shoulders so much sat – were trusting of each other, and trusting of me. That was really important.”