Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
J.J. Abrams is a busy man. Not only did he direct, produce and co-write Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he still found some time left over in his day to produce a follow-up to Matt Reeves‘ POV monster movie Cloverfield.
Dan Trachtenberg‘s 10 Cloverfield Lane might not be a sequel (although Abrams seems to suggest one could still happen one day), so how does it connect to the original Cloverfield movie? Will God Particle be third film in the “Clover-verse”? And might Cannibal Airlines actually become a real movie? We also learn how Abrams found director Dan Trachtenberg, discuss the cleverly minimal marketing campaign, and get the details on Bear McCreary‘s masterful score. And the best thing is this interview is entirely SPOILER FREE, so don’t be afraid to start reading now.
I began my interview by asking J.J. one Star Wars: The Force Awakens question, which you can read about over here. Now let;s get to the Cloverfield questions:
Peter Sciretta: In what aspects is 10 Cloverfield Lane a Cloverfield movie?
JJ Abrams: Well, there are a number of connections, some obvious, some not. Things that I want people to sort of find on their own. Some are thematic, some are genre. But what defines a Cloverfield movie is part of a kind of bigger idea we had. This is sort of part anthology and part a larger idea. And the fun of having a movie that is connected to Cloverfield, but not a literal Cloverfield 2, which is of course what we would have called it had it been a literal sequel. It would have been a more obviously titled sequel. This is something that hopefully if we get a shot to continue this idea that we have, we can have a lot of fun with and come clearer what constitutes a Cloverfield movie.
Peter: If this does as well as you hope it does, is God Particle the next one or is Cannibal Airlines in the movie the next one?
JJ Abrams: Well, that remains to be seen, but the Cannibal Airlines thing is a very funny little reference. It’s sort of something that is part of another conceit. But we’ll see if that comes to light. It’d be fun if it did.
Peter: I was kind of expecting it to show up in the A.R.G., like a fake trailer for it or something.
[J.J. Abrams laughs.]
Peter: I feel like even though this film isn’t shot in POV like Cloverfield, it feels, there’s a lot of moments in it that you get the same POV feeling that Cloverfield had. Is that one of the connections? Is that something that you’re gonna bring on hopefully to other movies?
JJ Abrams: I think that because the premise of this movie is so strong, meaning it is so singular in point of view, I feel like one of the many cool things that Dan did was allowed the audience to vicariously experience moment to moment what Michelle is going through. And part because Mary Elizabeth Winstead is so good. And that is there’s no strategy behind that other than I think Dan telling a story very well.
Peter: How did you find Dan? Because, I mean, this is a big movie to give to a first time director.
JJ Abrams: Well Lindsey Weber who produced 10 Cloverfield Lane with me knew Dan beforehand. When we were searching for the director, she brought him in. What I was mostly impressed by was the clarity and strength of his vision for how he would do this movie. He had a confidence that I think is apparent in the film. A strong sense of tension and focus and he did this really beautiful work with the actors, with the camera, with modulation. I think that the tension of the movie, it’s not just creepy and scary, but there’s a great sense of tension to the movie that I think is really all about what Dan brought to it. So I would credit Lindsey for finding him and credit Dan for what the movie is.
Peter: During the making of this film, you were off filming your own… small indie movie, you were probably busy with that. How involved were you in this film?
JJ Abrams: Well, I was involved in the script stage. I was involved in what dailies sending in, notes or suggestions or trying to help whenever I could be of help to Dan and Lindsey who was on set all the time. In post I was like more involved in helping wherever Dan needed it. But again, this was something that really was Dan’s vision and I was just trying to do what a producer does, which is help out.