’65’ Directors on Getting This Epic in Theaters, ‘The Boogeyman,’ & More
Mar 11, 2023
In one of 2023’s first big sci-fi thrillers of the year, 65, writing and directing duo, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are bringing a unique concept to the big screen. Starring Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt, the movie turns the alien planet trope on its head, giving us a new take on the showdown between man and dinosaurs. During an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Beck and Woods described the epic as a “hybrid” between Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) and Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) films. The duo is best known for penning the screenplays for the A Quiet Place franchise, and are also the writers behind Rob Savage’s upcoming Stephen King adaptation, The Boogeyman, which they tell us is their favorite work from the king of horror.
COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY
In 65, Beck and Woods tap into their childhood passion for both filmmaking and big-scale dinosaur flicks by sending audiences back 65 million years ago to prehistoric Earth. When Pilot Mills’ (Driver) spacecraft crash lands on an uncharted planet, he and the only other survivor, a young girl named Koa (Greenblatt), must now survive this deadly terrain. With one final chance of escape, the two of them will journey across unfamiliar lands, battling this predatory species.
Before 65 opened in theaters, Beck and Woods discuss the challenges they faced during production, from filming on-location to budgeting both visual effects and practical dinosaurs to realize their childhood dreams. They share the advice they would give themselves on Day One of shooting, what had to be cut for time, and why they wanted to work with cinematographer Salvatore Totino (Spider-Man: Homecoming). The pair also talk about the cinephile and movie-goers’ dream theater they’re opening in their hometown of Davenport, Iowa, and talk about The Boogeyman. For all of this and more, check out the interview in the player above, or you can read the full ocnversation below.
COLLIDER: I want to start with Congrats. It’s really cool that you guys got to make a big studio movie.
SCOTT BECK: Oh, thank you. Yeah, it was a really fun one to make.
BRYAN WOODS: Appreciate that, thank you.
A million questions for you guys. The first is probably the most important. I give credit to anyone who’s going to open a movie theater and you guys are opening a movie theater in Davenport, which is awesome. For people that live in that area, how did that happen that you’re opening a movie theater?
BECK: Well, thanks for bringing that up. It’s a passion project of ours. I mean, the theater-going experience to us is sacred, and Davenport, Iowa where we’re from is a very unlikely place, but that’s what kind of makes it magical. It’s a place where early on, way back when, one of the first 16-millimeter film cameras was starting to get developed, but ultimately, it lost out by other competition. And it’s the Heartland, and it’s a place that we want to reinvigorate the cinema-going experience.
I feel like it’s been kind of ruined by the way that multiplexes sometimes don’t actually pay attention to projection or sound, or what the programming is, and so we’re building this. It’s got two screens, it’s got a rooftop screen, and the plan is outside doing first-run theaters, do repertory screenings, do cult screenings, do community screenings, not dissimilar to what Tarantino is doing with the New Beverly, but also make it a hub for film-going activity, bring back special guests. You know, if the movie theater were open now we’d be screening 65 there and bring Driver back, or Sam Raimi, and just make sure that cinema stays relevant from a community standpoint, that we’re not all stuck inside our homes watching things on streaming exclusively.
I saw the artwork of what the theater is going to look like, and the upstairs with the outdoor thing. I appreciate you guys doing this, and I hope it’s, obviously, a very successful business. If you guys could get the financing to make anything you want, what would you make?
WOODS: [Laughs] Financing? I mean…
BECK: It’s funny because I feel like we’re coming off the heels of something for the longest time that we wanted to make doing a dinosaur movie. I think the one place we haven’t made – and this is going to feel somewhat generic, but it’s like doing a space movie, like a pure space film. You know, whether that takes place on different planets or not.
One franchise that I know we would have loved to do, but I feel like it just keeps getting remade and remade, is Resident Evil. I feel like every time we want to raise our hands for the Resident Evil movie, someone has just been re-hired to do, like, the fifth remake of it. And our whole thing – Resident Evil is a video game that Bryan and I played when we were growing up back in Iowa as kids. It was so cinematic because you’re on these long tracking shots that were suspenseful, and you never knew what was around the corner. And we had always wanted to do a Resident Evil movie that was ostensibly a oner as if like the marriage of George Romero meets Gus Van Sant, and with his death trilogy of Gerry and Elephant and Last Days, and use style to really inherently create suspense. So I don’t know, that’s one on the bucket list. I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day.
Image via Momentum Pictures
Sometimes I ask that question and people are stumped, and other times people have ideas and they’re like, “I’ll just pitch it right now.” You know? It’s like, “Resident Evil!” So what do you guys wish you knew or could tell yourself on the first day of filming 65? Something that you learned in the edit or during the shoot that you wish you had known.
BECK: These are great questions. They’re keeping us on our toes. I mean, I would say, “Enjoy the process.” The problem is filmmaking, sometimes it’s like 16-hour days, and you’re working six days a week, sometimes seven days a week, and it’s just, it’s really physically challenging and mentally challenging. But, to enjoy the process of making a dinosaur film, I think that that is always the thing that we’re trying to remember, but maybe not remembering clear enough.
WOODS: Yeah, there were a few moments throughout shooting where we were like, “Oh yeah, this is a dinosaur movie.” Like one of the days we had, we got a group of Cirque du Soleil performers to dress up in these giant dinosaur suits and perform as dinosaurs, and to have those practically and physically on set was a great reminder like, “Oh, how lucky are we to be able to live out our 10-year-old dreams on film?”
But yeah, it was a tough shoot. It was a tough shoot because we shot this thing in 40 days. It’s all practical locations in a world where pretty much every movie is shot on a VR sound stage at this point. You know, to be able to go to waterfalls and hike up a mountain to find a particular forest that’s never been put on film before, it was challenging. And I agree with Scott, it would be nice to go back and try to enjoy the ride a little bit.
You didn’t have Marvel money to make this movie, and I know how movies are made and how you have to give up certain things because you have your schedule and your budget. So was there anything that you were really sad you had written that you loved that you just didn’t have the time or money to actually put in the movie, and how did you sort of solve that problem or fix it?
BECK: Yeah, I mean, I think [there are] set pieces that, by virtue of having to shoot like for 40 days, you just don’t have all the time in the world to do that. [There are] sequences that are like precursors on the spaceship, like with Mills. So [there are] things from a story standpoint that you write it all down, but then inevitably the filmmaking process condenses it, and you have to find ways to convey the story in other ways. But that’s the challenge that I feel like we’ve been facing since we were 11 years old, like making movies in our own backyard. Like, “We need to have a giant explosion happen here, but we can’t do pyrotechnics, we’re 12 years old.” And so we have to find ways to use the power of suggestion, and that has never left us.
This movie, knowing we’ve got a budget to do visual effects dinosaurs and some practical dinosaurs, but you can’t spend $170 million achieving all that, you have to start thinking about, “Okay, sound design,” or we see the shadows of something, and it’s kind of a fun creative exercise. It can be maddening at times because you’re really challenging yourself from a creative standpoint, but ultimately, that’s kind of what we’ve been doing since we were kids.
WOODS: And it was kind of the appeal, the allure of this movie for us, frankly, was taking a high concept, pulpy B-movie premise and putting it on a large canvas, but then executing it with almost a minimalist, intimate approach with the characters. We joked it’s almost like the movie features our love of Roland Emmerich disaster movies, but also Terrence Malick. It’s a hybrid of that, and I think that was part of the appeal for us and why we were grateful to have a wonderful performer like Adam Driver. Because every day, we’re not talking about necessarily dinosaurs and which dinosaurs are creeping up, we’re kind of talking about the simmering emotional weight that his character is carrying and how that comes out without dialogue. That was the fun.
How did you guys decide on Salvatore [Totino]? How did you decide on him as your [director of photography]? Talk a little bit about crafting some of the specific shots with him because you have some cool shots in the movie. One’s in the trailer with the T. rex, or right behind the water, you know? And, the thing is that you said you have 40 days, you can’t spend all day trying to make one shot perfect.
BECK: Yeah. Well, one thing that was fascinating about Sal is the variety of films that he shot, from Everest, which they actually shot on parts of Mount Everest, and there was a physicality that he brought. And then he also has shot more intimate, character-driven things like Frost/Nixon. I think he just seemed like he would have the tenacity, the energy, and then the creative spirit to come on board a film like this that was shot quite frequently on practical locations.
He also has an ability to innovate and design. So for instance, there’s a scene where our characters are sleeping in the mouth of a cave before a T. rex comes up behind them, and we had to build a custom track that had to be totally engineered and built from scratch. And we would storyboard almost every single frame of this movie to figure out, “How do we achieve these different visual designs?” And he would be right there next to us doing the math, but also having the creative collaboration and conversation of, “How do we best achieve this? How are we getting inside the characters if the shot is more about the internal, or if it’s about the external threat?” So it’s a constant check-in with him, but he was a dream collaborator for us.
I like talking about the editing process because it’s where it all comes together, so how did the film change in ways you didn’t expect in the editing room?
WOODS: Well, the movie evolved a lot in post. Just the nature of the movie, which is a very quiet movie, not a lot of dialogue, a lot of suggestion and internal emotion in order to telegraph the story. It was a fussy movie. It had to be the right piece of music, it had to be the right sound effects, or sound design in order for any given scene to even work. And so, it was a constant evolution and pressure test, and sampling and trying different stuff, different cuts, different edits, the way certain shots would cut together.
It was finicky because there’s no… And this was the challenge we put on ourselves, and Adam put on us, as well, which is, “How do we do this with those few lines of dialogue as possible?” If we do the film the way we wanted to, you should be able to press the mute button and still follow the story. That was the initial challenge. So it was a very, as you can imagine, a very precious kind of finicky process to get the story to come out.
Image via Sony
I always ask about deleted scenes. Did you end up with a lot on the cutting room floor or no?
BECK: [There are] a few scenes that didn’t make the cut, and we’ll probably be featuring them on some of the home video releases. I mean, [there are] certain sequences between Adam and Ariana where it’s a quiet moment amidst a threat, and it was always like that gut check of, “Do they bond too early or do you need to kind of withdraw the threat in this moment and just let it be about quietness, or does it need to be the opposite?” So it’s that inevitable thing where we can write all the scenes in the world, but ultimately, the movie and the editing process is really informing us of what the movie actually needs and what we can shut away.
You do other things besides direct this movie. What are you excited for fans to see in The Boogeyman?
WOODS: Wow, it’s a movie we’re really proud of. It’s our favorite Stephen King piece of writing, which is absurd because he’s done so much miraculous writing, but we just always loved this short story, The Boogeyman, it always creeped us out. It’s so simple and clean and terrifying, and to be able to play in that sandbox was quite the dream. (Director) Rob Savage did a great job and I think it’s gonna be fun for audiences to see. I hope it’s another reason for people to come out to the theaters, and we were really, really moved by 20th’s decision to take it, as it was ostensibly going to be a Hulu release, and they kind of are reinvesting in the ecosystem of theaters which is so important to us.
Image via 20th Century Studios
That’s the thing that I actually wanted to touch on because I had hoped with Prey, which [Dan Trachtenberg] did, that that would get a theatrical release, but the contracts and everything. For people who don’t realize maybe you can explain it, it’s a big deal to take what contracts are for Hulu and say, “Oh let’s do it in theaters.”
BECK: Yeah, our understanding was with Prey, it was almost a contractual impossibility for that movie to come out in theaters because it would get tied up in other streaming services if it played in theaters. And so, Boogeyman was fortunate that it wasn’t stuck in the 2022 pipeline or else it would have been strictly streaming. It’s coming out in 2023, this summer, which allowed it to finagle out of those contractual obligations. But again, we wrote the film initially for 20th Century Fox, when Fox was still around, and it was a studio film. And so for it to go to streaming, but now come back to theatrical is incredibly inspiring to us. We feel like there’s been a turn now, after the last three years of a really weird theatrical landscape, that hopefully will find a new normal where, yes, streaming is not going anywhere, but there will be a certain type of movie, or a certain expectation of the theatrical movie-going process, that inspires us because that’s what we fell in love with as kids.
Don’t miss out on 65 in theaters. Check out Collider’s interview with Adam Driver below.
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