Hey, guys. While on the ground at SXSW I did a few print interviews with some filmmakers. I ran a story last Friday about the behind the scenes goings-on with the Friday the 13th films. If you didn't see it, don't worry! All the interesting quotes I ran from Platinum Dunes producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are below
Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay's company, produced A Quiet Place, which was the opening night film of SXSW and also happens to be a kickass, intense, scary as shit emotional rollercoaster directed by John Krasinski and starring Emily Blunt.
The film focuses on a small family who have adapted to live as quietly as possible after the world is overrun by deadly creatures that are blind, but hear so well that any loud sound means certain death.
I took the opportunity to grill the producers about how they brought the impressive cast together, how they executed such a menacing creature, why that creature owes a huge debt to the Ninja Turtles and, yes, all the info they could give me about the State of the Friday the 13th Union.
Enjoy the read!
Eric Vespe: Can you guys help me understand why we're not three movies deep in the new run of Friday the 13th movies? Your reboot was good and it made a ton of money. Can you explain what's going on with the franchise?
Andrew Form: It's so sad. I'm sure the world knows, but we were four weeks from filming in Atlanta with Breck Eisner. We were there and the movie got shut down.
Brad Fuller: We never got a clear answer from Paramount as to why that movie got shut down. I think at the end of the day that administration, which is no longer there, didn't see horror as a viable part of what they were doing. Also they were coming off of Rings and that didn't help.
For studio heads who are not fans of horror there's not a tremendous amount of glory in it other than the financial. A lot of these studios want to make big movies with big movie stars and that administration could never get excited about it.
I think the rights now have reverted back to New Line.
Andrew Form: Or Victor Miller.
Brad Fuller: There's a Victor Miller element, too. There's a lawsuit with Victor Miller. I don't know anything about that, but I'll say to you, I'll say to anyone we would love nothing more than to make another Friday the 13th movie.
Andrew Form: We were right there. We had Crystal Lake. We had the camp. The location was amazing.
Brad Fuller: It was such a bummer.
Eric Vespe: Were you bringing Derek Mears back as Jason?
Andrew Form: No, because we were going way back. We were going to the '70s.
Brad Fuller: We would have put Derek in the movie (somewhere) anyway because we love him so much.
Eric Vespe: He's one of the nicest dudes I've ever met.
Andrew Form: Aaron Guzikowski wrote such a great script. It was what we thought the community would really want. It was such a bummer when that one didn't go.
Eric Vespe: It seems to me like it's a no-brainer. There's a reason why they pumped one out every year in the '80s. They were printing money.
Andrew Form: And now you see the hype coming out with the new Halloween movie. I think everybody's now going “Oh, my God. Why didn't we make that new Friday the 13th movie?” The Stephen King movies are getting hot, the IP is still strong, R-rated horror is what's happening. I mean, look at IT being over $700 million worldwide. Right now it's not happening, but we just hope one day that we can get the call that says the rights are figured out, let's go make Friday.
Eric Vespe: So it really is just a question of rights at this point?
Brad Fuller: That's all it is.
Andrew Form: I believe if the rights were clear we'd be shooting the movie.
Brad Fuller: We would have shot the movie!
Eric Vespe: Not to make this all about Friday the 13th, but...
Andrew Form: No, listen, we'll talk about Friday the 13th all day!
Eric Vespe: (laughs) The beauty of the Friday the 13th series is that all the audience wants from it is fun. That allows for so much freedom in being able to make something without it being crazy expensive.
Brad Fuller: And we're just the guys to do that!
Andrew Form: We had so much fun making the last one!
Brad Fuller: We're not keeping anything from you. This is the first conversation we've had about Friday the 13th in months and when we do talk about it we get sad and we start to cry.
Andrew Form: But you know, as more and more horror movies work, and Paramount's loving A Quiet Place right now, we're going to keep pushing to get Friday the 13th back. We have to. For us going to Crystal Lake would be so much fun.
Brad Fuller: We just don't know who's going to make the movie.
Andrew Form: Is it Warner Bros? Is it Paramount?
Brad Fuller: It's a complicated jumble, but I have looked into it. I think it's New Line. The rights have expired, or they expire next month, and they revert back to New Line, I think.
Andrew Form: But there's still an issue with the Victor Miller lawsuit.
Brad Fuller: Right, and I don't think anyone will touch it until that gets figured out.
Andrew Form: Yeah, that has to get figured out. It's just too hard with that litigation out there.
Brad Fuller: Looming litigation does not help movies get made. (laughs)
Andrew Form: No, it sure doesn't. Not big, high profile IP.
Eric Vespe: So, on to a happier subject... A Quiet Place! What's so impressive to me about the movie is it has an indie sensibility... it's not afraid to be silent or express dialogue through sign language for three quarters of the film, if not more, but it delivers in a very commercial way. Some of these kinds of genre movies will stay small and have the emotion, but not the payoff, but you were able to have the best of both worlds with this one. I would assume some of your job as producers here was to preserve that balance.
Brad Fuller: I don't think you can delineate in this movie what the specific roles were. Like, what Platinum Dunes did and what John Krasinski did... at least not in that particular way. John was always up for making a scary movie. He always wanted to make something that had people on the edge of their seat. He is such a dynamic force that we felt it was our job to simply block for him, just let him do what he did and if he needed us... and Drew was on set every day of that shoot, so I say “us” but it was really Drew. If John needed Drew, Drew was there for him. They had a brother-like relationship throughout the movie. To this minute they rely on each other and it's this wonderful collaboration between the two of them.
Andrew Form: It really was. If he had any genre questions I was an open book for him because he knows I've been on so many of these movies. I could tell him about the mistakes we've made, what we've learned, so if he had any questions about genre I was there. Otherwise I just watched him work with these actors and act himself.
I've never worked with an actor/director before, so it was interesting because he'd go out there and I'm alone by the monitor! I remember on day one I was like “Do you yell cut? Who yells cut?” I'd never seen that before. But, like Brad said, it was an unbelievable collaboration. It was amazing for us on this one.
Eric Vespe: The movie's very cinematic. It doesn't feel small, but it is very intimate, which is tricky. This could be a really tricky concept to pull off. Just by the very nature of the concept of the movie there's a ton of jump scares because any sound here is a jump scare! Audiences can turn against a movie with too many jump scares because they're viewed as a cheap way to get a reaction.
Andrew Form: And, by the way, we did everything we could to avoid that. We've been in this game for a long time. We know what it's like to have someone jump out and say “Boo!” It's a fake scare and we know how people feel about that, so we did everything we could to avoid that.
Brad Fuller: I do feel that the jump scares that are created by a sting in this movie are a little different from all our other movies because in this movie it serves to release the pressure. It allows the audience to laugh a little bit because they're so tense and then this thing happens. You don't know if it's going to work when you're in the edit room or on the mixing stage. It was so rewarding last night to see the audience laughing, to see the pressure getting relieved in those situations.
I want to go back to something that you said. One place that I feel that we were very helpful to John... and I can't take the credit for it... It's really thanks to Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael. Because we made those (Ninja Turtles) movies with ILM we have a great relationship with them. As great as this movie looks, the creature they made heightened it. They gave us great work and that's because of Michael (Bay)'s Transformers and our Turtles. We've done a tremendous amount of work there and we were able to come up with something and put something in the movie that I think is budgetarily almost impossible to do, if it wasn't for the Turtles and Optimus and Bumblebee.
Andrew Form: 100%. Not on this movie. Scott Farrar was the VFX Supervisor on this movie. He did every Transformers, been nominated for many Academy Awards and he was on set working with John, figuring everything out, shooting the plates... He was an amazing collaborator with us.
Brad Fuller: And that's what working with Bay gets us.
Eric Vespe: I'm a big practical effects guy, but I love CG when it's done right. That creature is an example of it done right.
Brad Fuller: The problem is the aliens we got to shoot just didn't listen, so we had to go the CG route. (laughs)
Andrew Form: I brought my four year old to set and said “When can I meet the alien?” I said, “He's not here today.”
Eric Vespe: I assume with a movie like this you still need a couple names to be involved to get the greenlight. I'm not sure the exact progeny of you guys casting this movie...
Andrew Form: We can give it to you.
Brad Fuller: It's super boring.
Eric Vespe: Well, then maybe the quick version, then.
Brad Fuller: It's boring because there were four names on the list and one of them was John.
Andrew Form: John had just done 13 Hours with Michael, so he was in our family. We were prepping Jack Ryan. We bought the script and sold it to Paramount. We called John and said, “Would you do a genre film?” He said, “Yeah, of course.” We sent him the script to play the role of the dad, Lee. He called us back and said “I'll play Lee, but I want to rewrite and direct this.” An hour later, after hearing everything he wanted to do with the movie, we were like “Let's go! That's exactly the movie we wanted to make.”
So, he signed up and started working on the script. He was our director. He flew in from New York to have a meeting at Paramount with us, to talk about the script and stuff, and while on the lot he said to us “Emily wants to be in the movie. She wants to play the wife.”
Eric Vespe: When you hear that Emily Blunt wants to be the co-lead of your movie do you go “Okay, cool. This movie's actually going to happen now.”
Brad Fuller: Yes. Some version of that.
Andrew Form: He kinda snuck it up on us, too. We were just kinda walking and he was like “Oh, by the way, guys...” We were like “What?!?” And Noah Jupe was in Suburbicon and John had a relationship with George Clooney, so we looked over at him and (Millicent Simmonds) was in Todd Haynes' Wonderstruck and that was it. There was no one else we went to. It was just those four people. There were no auditions. That was it.
Eric Vespe: Well, thanks for talking with me. Good luck with the movie!
A Quiet Place opens April 6th! Everybody go watch it unless you don't like good things, then you can skip it. Bring a change of pants, though. You'll need it.