Asked at a recent New York press conference about the challenges of making a period movie -- even one set in the not too distant past of 1971-91 -- Stern told United Press International: "We were so close to what the period was that there was a moment when we were in the garage [where Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computers] and there was a mistake in the set dressing.
"There was a dust buster on the wall and it was behind Woz's back for the whole time," he recalled. "In about 70 shots. And it was about two years early for the dust buster and we went in digitally and we removed every dust buster from that wall just to make sure we were on point. ...
"Part of the challenge of the film, especially on a smaller budget, is to get all those details," Stern explained. "One of the things I was pretty vehement about is the '70s typically -- and early '80s, really -- isn't the sexiest period, especially the early '80s as it is immortalized in film. But when we lived it, it was really sexy. In fact, the late '70s and early '80s were the disco [period.] People really felt empowered. But, looking back on it, we sort of are horrified. I said, we need to be aware of this period, but let's try to recreate it as we remember it, not as we see the photos when they amplify everything like the huge collars and enormous glasses. ... For me, it was all about trying to recreate a memory through the music and the details."
Stern said Ashton Kutcher, the real-life technology buff who plays the titular computer visionary in the film, was helpful in determining which devices should be included in what scenes in "Jobs."
"You see in the film, the 1977 Computer Fair, there was so much detail on the Commodore computers and so much attention to what it was," Stern noted. "Ashton, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the technology of this time, would walk on set and there would be a chip that would be randomly on the table and he would say, 'We have to take this off because this won't be invented for two more years; this is not invented yet.' And we were slaves to that."
"Recreating a period is a perspective," added Kutcher, who also starred in the sitcom "That '70s Show."
"California in 1980 was very different than Iowa in 1980 was very different from Europe in 1980 was very different than all these places and, I think, whenever you create a period piece of any sort, everybody comes in with their own perspective of, 'Well, no, that's not what it was, it was this.' 'Maybe it was that where you were, but it was this there.' One of the things Josh was really diligent about was making it not about the period, so you felt it, but that wasn't the focus. It's similar, I think, to some of Steve Jobs' ethos of when he wore his black turtleneck and his blue jeans and his shoes and it was this standard outfit you knew you were going to get. Maybe that was in an effort to focus on the product and not make it about him and that if he could disappear and almost become background for the product then people could actually focus on the brilliance of the creation. And I think period is the same thing. You want it to disappear. You almost want to not feel it. You want to have a sense of it, but not be focused on it."
Co-starring Josh Gad, Durmot Mulroney, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons and Lukas Haas, "Jobs" opens in U.S. theaters Friday.
Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 56.