Death Note Trailer

When this film went to Netflix, is it still the same film you would have made at a studio?

Yes. As a matter of fact, Netflix let us really make the movie that we were going to make in the first place. It was set up at Warner Brothers and we had been working on it quite a bit there and we were kind of at a point where we were about one major draft away from getting the film pretty close to what it is. It just happened that we were able to do that draft over at Netflix. We always intended the film to be rated R. The budget is exactly where we were going to it at Warner Brothers. That was one of the scary things when the movie got put into turnaround over there. We were far enough into preproduction that we knew that there wasn’t really a cheaper version of the film. Whenever we were shopping it around initially to other studios, they wanted to do it for $10-15 million less. Some of them wanted to do it PG-13. Fortunately and very quickly, within a week, Netflix raised their hands. This film fit into a paradigm I think that they’re looking to do, which is movies that have a very mainstream appeal, but are doing something off center. I think Bright looks like another one of those types of situations. It just worked out.

And you’re doing a movie at Warner Brothers next, so I assume there’s no hard feelings?

No, not at all. You can’t really take any of that seriously. Plus, that was a completely different regime. That sounds like a dictatorship, but that was with Greg Silverman and his gang. They’re all shook up. Greg’s out now. Ultimately, Godzilla and Kong is much more of a Legendary thing. We’re still kind of early, so we’ll see.

Godzilla 2 starts filming

Did doing the Ryuk effect with performance capture prepare you for Godzilla vs. Kong?

Yeah, I think that and the big ferris wheel finale in Death Note were real great preparation for that film. Prior to that, I hadn’t really had that much experience with VFX. All the stuff I’d done was fixing shots, adding squib hits and things like that, just trying to do very practical feeling effects, to add to practical elements. With this film, I went into it really nervous because one of the things I hate the most in movies is bad special effects and overuse of green screen. This film really taught me how to trust into that, but also not trust into it to the point of blissful ignorance. I’m able to now look at it and know when does it look a certain way? What kind of things to put in front of the camera and the lighting stuff to approach it. There’s nothing scarier I think as a filmmaker than going on a soundstage and just seeing all that green in the background and thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what’s back there. I know theoretically what’s back there but right now I just see a bunch of green. I’ve seen this go wrong in other movies.

At a certain point you have to let go because, for instance, the ferris wheel finale in this movie, you just can’t do that kind of thing in real life. You can’t put the actors in that kind of peril. You have to really take that leap forward. On the indie level, you can’t really rely on VFX in the same way, especially on lower budget indie films like I’ve done. You just have no assurance that stuff is going to turn out because VFX are very expensive and sometimes you have to keep pumping money into it to get it right. For me, I’ve always stayed away from VFX because I had no assurance I could do it. Something like Godzilla vs. Kong we’re going to be working with the absolute best in the industry. We’ll have plenty of money to work it out so it should be good. Time will be a factor but that’s about it.

Is Godzilla vs. Kong still in the ‘70s in continuity with Skull Island?

No, ours is more in continuity with the sequel to Godzilla right now. They’re doing Godzilla 2 with Mike Dougherty directing, so our film is in present day. We have a couple characters from Godzilla 2 in ours, but it’ll be interesting to see how Kong has fared over the years. You see him in that film and he’s just constantly under attack. Things are going wrong and there’s probably been lots of human intervention since then. It’ll be interesting to see a more rugged, a bit more aged Kong in this film.

Is I Saw the Devil on hold for a few years while you do Godzilla Vs. Kong?

I think so. There’s a chance it may get turned around to another filmmaker. I’m not sure. It’s one of those films where I already have the soundtrack picked out. The script is already done. It was one of those things that I’ve been really excited about doing, but an opportunity like Godzilla vs. Kong was just one I couldn’t turn down. It’s two and a half years at least of my life on there, and we’ll just have to see if they’ve got it going before then. Never say never.

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