Miami Vice : Michael Mann Interview

Question: When did you realize that you wanted to turn Miami Vice into a feature film?

Michael Mann: When I first read Tony Yerkovich’s screenplay for the original Miami Vice pilot, my first instinct was to make this as a feature film, that’s the first thing I wanted to do.

Question: What is this film about?

Michael Mann: This is a story about being undercover and what happens when you go deep undercover. Particularly if you’re doing an operation in a foreign country where your badge doesn’t count and where you can’t have a swat team surveying you and people are not in contact, you really are out on the edge all by yourself and that’s the most dangerous undercover to do. And one of the terms it’s used for is enhanced undercover. Particularly when you are infiltrating a bask criminal organization that has a lot of counter intelligent resources and are constantly on the look out for people just doing exactly what you’re doing.

Question: What are your thoughts on using real locations to film on?

Michael Mann: I find that if you can bring your actors into those environments and really have them be your background, that audiences sense the kind of truth telling style of the environment that the action is happening in. It’s things you can’t begin to artificially create here. As good as our crews are, there’s nothing as exciting as the real texture of it, of the real people on the screen.

Question: What is your personal opinion on working as an undercover agent?

Michael Mann: There’s a high, there’s an elevated experience in doing it, and that’s what really motivates them. And it’s that moment when you know that they believe you 100 percent, that you have got them, that you have put over this fabricated identity, this fabricated scenario and you’re living it and you’re feeling it and that they’re buying it. And it may go on for weeks, it may go on for months.

Question: How are undercover agents like actors?

Michael Mann: When I met a lot of them, those were striking to me that a lot of the way they described to me what they were doing is exactly the way an actor describes being deeply in character, except they’re doing it for real.