Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011 by Peter Sciretta
Question: Guillermo, the house about the Bleak House, when does that come out?
Guillermo Del Toro: The book is going to be edited by Alex Press and it’s going to be a combination of reproductions of all of my sketchbooks and Bleak House, because essentially what it is is like a peak inside the deranged brain, and I would say buy two or three…
Question: Your new film, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is also set in a scary cool house…
Guillermo Del Toro: It looks a little bit like Bleak House.
Question: And the movie DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is based on the ABC movie that had a huge impact on you as a kid, can you describe the circumstances by which you actually saw that film?
Guillermo Del Toro: Well I saw it as a kid. I literally… When I was a kid the TV stuff is probably what had the biggest impression on me like THE SHINING, ALIEN, and JAWS all freaked me out in the theater… ALIEN literally I went under the seat, literally, it’s not a figure of speech in the same way that it’s not a figure out speech when I was watching NIGHT GALLERY as a kid I saw an episode called THE DOLL and I literally… I’m not making this up, I peed.
Guillermo Del Toro: I started screaming and I lost control of my finger and my father had to tranquilize me, like pop-pop, but literally I could get that scared only once, but I think this movie was one of the scariest things I saw as a kid and my brothers and I used to chase each other saying “Sally…” and I always wanted to recreate it, but recreate it like a dark fairytale and honor the little designs. The creatures were so funkily deranged and beautiful, we wanted to honor that, so it’s very much that spirit of the classic spooky movie with moments of great intensity.
Question: I think we have a couple brief teases of the movie here, just really quick stuff. Can we roll those clips?
Guillermo Del Toro: Pump up the volume… I’ll watch my language.
[A trailer is screened.]
Jon Favreau: We saw that online and the full trailer or it was one that just started off with “Just don’t be afraid of the dark…” My kids were watching it on YouTube and hiding their heads and then when that little guy comes out at the end, that’s the payoff to I think was the first teaser, it flipped everybody out and I had to go back and freeze frame; it’s only on for a couple of frames, but I had to show them what it was, but it just shows you…
Guillermo Del Toro: And then they were screaming.
Jon Favreau: What’s cool is, and what I learned from Guillermo and also the people that came before us is one of the problems with CGI as Guillermo says “It’s lazy,” but it’s also.. Before you had CG you were forced to use other tools, because if you just showed your monster right off the bat it would look… If you saw Jaws right from the beginning of JAWS, you would not be scared of that movie. It’s the music, the cutting, the tension, the acting, the filmmaking that builds you to a point where you are so tense that by the time you see that puppet pop out of the water you just shit yourself.
Jon Favreau: I have five coming my way, I’ve been keeping track. Four now… And so what’s interesting about what Guillermo does, even if it’s not a horror movie, even in the HELLBOY films is using the same techniques that you would use before there was CG, so just because it’s easy to show it doesn’t mean you should and so if you have… You use the puppet when the puppet looks better and then you switch it up and use the computer generated one when that looks better, but you never use either of them if you can do it through the face or the suggestion of the cinematography and I think that that’s becoming more of a lost art. If you look at ALIEN and then ALIENS, two films made pre-CG, and then you look at ALIEN 3 you will see that they thought since you could use it, you should and ALIEN 3 felt a lot less scarier than the other two which seemed to share…
Guillermo Del Toro: Great puppets though.
Jon Favreau: For 2?
Guillermo Del Toro: For 3.
Jon Favreau: Which is the one where they are swimming? Was that 3?
Guillermo Del Toro: That was ALIEN RESURRECTION.
Jon Favreau: ALIEN 4. Was that 4? I can’t keep track. The one where they are swimming wasn’t that scary I guess is what I’m trying to say, but yeah I think the puppet worked when you are using darkness to help hide it, but then when the CG takes over it feels like it’s lost something. It’s almost like when film went to sound…
Guillermo Del Toro: I thought Fincher did great in ALIEN 3, because he took the rod puppet and integrated it with the tools of compositing that were available. I think that if we had our way, I think that’s a great way to go, to use rod puppets digitally composited on backgrounds. It’s a great way to go.
Jon Favreau: So the idea of puppetry and I think Guillermo works really well with, if you look at HELLBOY it’s really fun to watch the hand offs if you are a fan of technique, because he will use… Who does your puppets?
Guillermo Del Toro: Spectral Motion in American Movies and in the Spanish movies there’s a company called DVD Effects.
Jon Favreau: And you see that they hand off one for the other, so that when you are evaluating the reality of the textures you are seeing a puppet, but then when it has to move it switches over and I had Guillermo come around to the editing room of COWBOYS AND ALIENS and when I had my puppet work cut in, I said “Okay, help me with this, because I’m used to working more in CG,” so he gave me a lot of good suggestions.
Guillermo Del Toro: It was fun.
Question: Speaking of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, the mash-up of western and science fiction, which side of that equation most interested you and you wanted to tackle in this project?
Jon Favreau: Look I think the people in this room and the people at this convention are really comfortable with high concept films and they embrace an interesting concept, because it becomes a challenge for the filmmaker to do it in a real way and a grounded way. It’s very funny, because there’s definitely a difference of culture where now with social media you can see reactions and when you see “COWBOYS AND ALIENS” there are only two things you hear, one is “That’s awesome. That’s going to be so cool” or the other one is like “I can’t believe you are doing that. This is offensive to me. I can’t believe…” They go see TRANSFORMERS and they see a trailer for COWBOYS AND ALIENS and they are like “No, cowboys and aliens they don’t fight each other. This is completely implausible; they didn’t exist at the same time. This is insulting and I can’t believe Hollywood is making a movie like this,” so no alien robots turn into trucks and that’s okay.
Jon Favreau: “I think that’s plausible,” but you get James Bond and Indiana Jones fighting aliens… we’ve crossed the line there… I feel like all high concept movies are intrinsically ridiculous, that’s the whole idea of high concept. You are taking a crazy situation and you are brining reality to it, that’s every high concept film, that’s every action film. A guy makes an iron suit… a guy injects himself with something and turns into the Hulk… trucks turn into robots… The trick with the filmmakers is you’ve got to make that an emotionally accessible experience and something that has character arc in it; you feel something, that’s the push and pull. So for me I feel it’s less offensive to just say “Hey, it’s cowboys and aliens.” Harrison Ford said to me when we were first thinking about the title, we were on the set and I said, “Some people like the title, a lot of people don’t like the title of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, should we change the name?” He looked at me and he paused and he said, “Well what the hell else are you going to call it?”
Guillermo Del Toro: “It does what it says on the box.”
Jon Favreau: That’s right, truth in advertising. So we will see what happens, but I’m very happy that… it was sort of born here. I went to a party and I met with the writers and they sent me the script. I was curious about this, I have heard about this for many years and then I showed footage for the first time last year here when we just started filming. That was fun and… We looked at the calendar, we are coming out in a week, I said “Let’s bring the entire Hollywood premiere here and let’s have the first group of people to actually see the film be the people of San Diego during Comic Con.”
Jon Favreau: And that’s when you know if you’ve got it. This may be a failed experiment or it might be something brilliant. Everybody agrees it’s either going to be terrible or it’s going to be awesome and I think they are probably right, that’s how I feel about it. So it will be great, on Saturday we are going to really know what that feels like, so those of you who can come and make it down again we are going to be giving away tickets at the signing I do with Drew [Struzan] tomorrow and they are doing giveaways I think Universal is throughout the week, so we would love to include as many of you as we can.