Intervju: Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield")

2008:s stora succé är monsterfilmen "Cloverfield" som tar hela genren till nya höjder. Filmen släpps på DVD i Sverige 25/6 via Paramount. Paramount har skänkt denna exklusiva intervju med regissören Matt Reeves till Mycket nöje!

Was there ever a concern that some of the shots of New York being destroyed might sit uncomfortably with post 9/11 audiences, especially in America?

“Sure. The thing about it is that the movie was really inspired by Godzilla. It’s meant to be a horror movie of its time in the same way that Godzilla was definitely a reaction to the anxieties of that time, you know, post Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a movie very much about the anxiety of the atomic age.

“We felt that in doing a monster movie for our country and of our time that it would definitely be reflective of the anxieties we all feel since 9/11. So that was definitely something we were aware of from the beginning although at the end of the day we were also aware that what we were making was a fantasy.

“That was an entry point for the film, a way in, but that ultimately what we made was a giant monster movie. I think that all the really interesting genre films, to me, tend to reflect the anxiety of the time in which they were made.

“Obviously horror films and sci-fi films reflect our deep seated fears and are often very reflective of the times in which they were made. So we were very conscious of it, absolutely.

Such as when the 1950s sci-fi movies reflected the Communist fears?

“The red scare films, and the way that Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is said to be a reaction to Vietnam. So there’s no question we were aware of that, that is part of the environment in which we made the film and we were conscious of it.

So the fact that Rob’s off to Japan is a bit of an in-joke?

“There’s no question that that is a kind of oblique reference to Godzilla.

How did you strike the right balance between the hand-held camera footage and the usual standards that have to be applied to a feature film?

“That that was the idea. What attracted me to the project was the idea of doing a movie that was, in a sense, a traditional monster movie except that it would have this ultra-realistic point of view. I mean to take something as ridiculous as a 350foot monster attack on New York and try to depict it with this level of realism is sort of strange, but that was the fun of it.

“And that, to me, was the real challenge. I looked at a lot of YouTube footage and some documentaries, there’s a documentary called The War Tapes by Deborah Scranton where she gave Handicams to a bunch of troops who were going on their tour of Iraq. They took those cameras with them into battle, literally, and she ended up editing together a film from that.

“I was interested to see the way that someone in an absolutely terrifying situation would film and how that would look. There’s so much stuff on the internet you can find, amateur footage of people going through crises, some of it was the 9/11 footage but any time anything happens if people are there with their cellphones, camera phones and camcorders they document it.

“It’s from a very interesting point of view because it’s from a place of no knowledge, of just being a witness and being there and not being able to anticipate anything. So, I watched that as kind of a visual reference.

“My first thought was how much of this movie can we actually shoot on Handicam. I went to the visual effects people and they said ‘we’d prefer if you didn’t shoot on Handicam,’. We had fantastic effects people, Double Negative did the visual effects along with the creature effects which were created by Tippett Studio, who did Starship Troopers.

“I told them: ‘here’s the problem. This movie is very much made for an audience that does this daily,’. When people carry their mobile phone with them they have a camera phone with them 24 hours a day, they know what it looks like when their lives are documented and put up on the internet because that’s what they do.

“So, if we’re shooting a movie with steadicam and then we add shake later they’re immediately going to say ‘this is completely fraudulent...’ even though it was a giant monster movie. I thought they would be rejected. So I said let’s find a way to at least shoot the movie hand-held.

“They said okay, and that was what our teaser trailer ended up being for us, the one that was on Transformers. It was a kind of think tank workshop to figure out how to shoot in this style with hand-held effects, how that would be tracked and how we would the head of the Statue of Liberty and all the various stuff. That was basically how we learned to do it, by doing that teaser trailer and I would say that represents the stuff we did with very big cameras.

“We shot on the Thomson Viper, which is the camera that David Fincher shot Zodiac on, and we shot on the F23 which has the nickname ‘the Baby Genesis’ which is also a high resolution camera that’s very sensitive to light. Miami Vice was shot on these kind of cameras, these use them because they can see deep into the night and they get high resolutions for visual effects.

“They also way about 50 to 60 pounds which a Handicam that fits in the palm of your hand does not. So, I said: ‘well, we have to shoot as much of this film as possible, the remainder of the film, with those kinds of cameras because it’s going to be hard to create the illusion of a light camera if we’re using those kind of cameras throughout.

“So we actually shot on two Handicams for the rest of the film, one of them literally fitted into the palm of your hand, it weighed less than a pound. It was by Panasonic and when I first did the test we transferred it to film and my first thought was for a little HD Handicam this looked too good.

“I couldn’t believe we were going to use this because people would say ‘you probably didn’t shoot this movie on Handicam,’ but we did. We also shot a larger Handicam that’s probably about a foot long and weighed about three or four pounds, and that was the Canon.

“With that camera I was able to shoot a lot of the footage myself because I am an amateur, I was able to give it to the actors because they’re amateurs. I remember there was a scene where Mike Vogel, who plays Jason, Rob’s brother, and he’s getting the camera for the first time and talking about how he doesn’t know how to use it.

“In the scene, I said to Mike ‘I want you to film this,’. He said ‘but I don’t know how to use it,’ and I said ‘that’s perfect,’. He was really fiddling around with it and had no idea how to shoot it, and that’s the footage that’s in the movie. T.J. Miller, who plays Hud, I wanted him to be able to shoot as much as possible because I wanted the actors to be able to relate to him right off camera because it has a particular feeling, again in trying to create authenticity.

“So I sat off camera in those moments with a little monitor and I would guide the improvisations that we would do. In a normal movie you would shoot a scene between characters with several different angles you’d be able to edit together later. But here because I wanted it to feel real there’d be no edits.

“So that meant that instead of shooting one hour and doing multiple angles I’d shoot one hour and I’d do 50 to 60 takes, we’d start shooting rehearsals and basically let stuff evolve over the course of the shooting. So it was achieved in a number of ways, some of it was that we got our professionals to try and shoot and look as bad as we were doing.

“I put our professional camera operators with their 50 to 60 pound cameras in T.J.’s clothing, so that if ever you saw his feet they looked like his feet or his hands. Basically it was just this giant experiment, including for the visual effects people because they hadn’t shot in this style before.

“Normally when you’re doing a visual effects sequence you can break it down into little manageable pieces. There’s the big wide shot, that part of the effect is going to be five to ten seconds, there all the other tighter shots and you can design the whole sequence. Here I would say ‘but Hud wouldn’t cut,’ so this needs to be a continuous shot. So we worked with a pre-visual company called The Third Floor, and we created what essentially on the computer were moving storyboards.

“I took them to the set because they would survey the sets that we had. I would say ‘this is what’s happening in the ideal world but I want this to feel real, so let’s start playing,’. If Michael Stahl-David fell down in a take I would say that’s the take, because it seems more real.

“He fell down, it seems accidental, so it was a way of trying to find a way to plan out something that had to feel accidental. It was done in a number of ways none of us had quite done before.

Can you say a little bit about Double Negative, as they’re a British effects company?

“They’re amazing. Mike Ellis was one of our effects supervisors and he’s from Double Negative. They did all of our visual effects except for the creature effects, they’re amazing. They did the Bourne movies, they did United 93. In fact I saw the crash in United 93 I went to Mike and said: ‘that crash has just burned into my memory. When we have a similar sequence in our film I definitely want to pull on that for inspiration,’, just because of how amazingly well done it was. It was so convincing.

“They also did the latest Batman films, I guess they’re probably finishing The Dark Knight and they did Batman Begins, they’re just an incredible company. But what impressed me so much with them, I think if you see film there are many scenes where you’ll look at it and say: ‘that was an effect,’, ‘or that was an effect...’.

“And it’ll be obvious because it will be stuff you wouldn’t be able to see in reality. The stuff between Tippett creating this giant monster and the destruction. But the stuff that blew me away, and I felt this way when I looked at their reel as well, was the stuff that was invisible.

“There are so many shots in the movie that you would never think are visual effects and that’s a testament to how good their work is. I’m just so impressed with them over there, they’re incredible. I loved working with Mike, they’re just great.

What was it about your work on TV show Felicity that suggested you were right for Cloverfield?

“I think the idea was that Felicity is really a character piece, it was very intimate with a lot of people in rooms talking to each other, relationship stuff. But the thing that was important to me, JJ [Abrams] and I created that show together, and I directed a number of the episodes including the pilot, and we were always trying to go for a kind of naturalism. This was a college fantasy but there was a level of naturalism with the actors and the situations we tried to create.

“So the idea here was to take something that was completely outrageous and something that was enormous but do it from a very intimate point of view and a very naturalistic point of view.

“So even though it was a visual effects movie which had a 350 foot tall monster that was going to destroy New York it was also going to be from the point of view of one of the people who would going to be running down the street in a Godzilla movie. in a Godzilla movie with all of those screaming people, one is going to have a Handicam and they’d make this movie.

“This isn’t about the President who puts in a call to the military and says: ‘we’re going to take the strike and take out the monster’, it’s about people and the experience of it. And so because my concern in the things that I’d done was more about naturalism and trying to find a way to ground things in reality, that’s actually why JJ and Bryan Burk, who’s his producing partner, came to me.

“They said ‘read this, and you’re going to say ‘what?’,’. And I did because I read the outline, there wasn’t even a script at that point. I’d never done visual effects before, and this was clearly a wall-to-wall visual effects monster movie, I asked why they were thinking of me. And they said it was because they wanted it to feel real.

“That sounded like fun. What was cool for me was I’d never done visual effects, but when I started collaborating with Double Negative and Tippett, they’d never done visual effects in this style so it wasn’t only new for me it was new for them. We all would be on the set together trying to figure out how to realise things in this particular style.

“It was that way for the crew, because the crew is used to shooting a certain way. When we have a focus puller, if somebody walks in and hits their mark, if that person isn’t sharp the focus puller loses their job. But not on this movie. On this movie I’d say ‘you know what, he’s too sharp, you’ve got to shoot the wall and come back, it’s got to be out of focus!’.

“They’d look at me like: ‘isn’t that going to get me fired?’. But that was the whole point, it has to feel like it’s on auto focus, this all has to be messy. The same thing with our operators, they were expert at getting just what you wanted on camera.

“I’d say: ‘good, but next time don’t get it on camera, you have to come in later, hit them a moment later, because anybody on the set who was supposed to really be there would never know that’s going to happen over there. You know because you’re expert camera operator and are used to capturing everything perfectly,’. So it was kind of like this grand experiment for everyone involved, and for that it was very exhilarating and fun.

First experience they will have had having to play characters themselves?

“Yeah. There’s a movie called The Lady In The Lake, which is one of the very first first person movies, it’s an old, old film. And actually that movie was definitely something we looked at because I was curious to see what that felt like it.

“Mike Bonvillain, who’s our director of photography, was talking about the movie and he said we should look at this one because it was the first instance of this particular case. But it’s so different, they obviously did it with a very, very heavy camera and in that case you were supposed to be the guy.

“People are looking at the camera and having conversations, it’s kind of like this noirish movie. It’s very stilted in a way, even though it was very innovative for the time. But here there was an actual precedent for what it was, it’s not that the camera is the character it’s that the camera is the Handicam. So that part of it was really fresh to think about approaching.

Did the camera crew enjoy the process?

“In that movie there are scenes where he drinks, there’s crazy stuff in that movie, but in this it would be very natural. One of the things when I was looking at YouTube was you saw so much stuff where people were documenting birthday parties or crazy college parties, stuff that people in their early 20s or late teens would do and then put up on the internet.

“But one of the things about these little cameras that I thought was critical to creating the illusion that it was being shot on Handicam was that people would often turn the camera on themselves and document themselves. That’s really hard to do with a 60 pound, huge camera.

“So that was the fun of it, I needed our camera operator to be a method camera operator. I had him read the script. There’s another movie which I really admire called Children of Men. The way that it’s filmed applied to some degree to what we were going to be doing in that it had these long continuous takes for some of these action sequences.

“It created a tremendous sense of dread. It was hand-held so it was very real but it was also that the camera wasn’t going through the experience, the camera was just taking it in so it was very detached and eerie and very Kubrickian and effective in that movie.

“I was blown away by it, but the thing that I knew would be different in our movie was that the camera was supposedly in the hands of somebody who was right there, going through this, which meant that he should frame things poorly and if the camera tipped down we should see his feet, so we had him wearing the actors’ clothing and shoes.

“So all of it was trying to find the way this would be shot if the person holding the camera was going through the experience. And so for the camera operators it was a lot of fun, and I would say it had to be more cock eyed if they were framing it too perfectly. They just embraced that idea, but it was very new for them because it was a very unusual challenge for a camera operator to have to do.

What kind of inspiration did you use in creating the monster?

“The monster was designed by a man named Neville Page, who’s a creature designer and he’s just amazing. I would go into his office and he had these computers he’d sketch on and on his wall he’d have all of these little photographs.

“They covered the entire wall and from afar you’d think it looked interesting, you’d see little bits of red, but as you got closer you’d suddenly want to turn away because what they actually were were photographs of intestines, photographs of eyeballs and body parts.

“I referred to it affectionately as his wall of terror. The idea was that the creature would have a kind of evolutionary, biological basis. It wouldn’t be random like things coming out of its arm or some weird thing, they were actually things that he designed that are a part of the monster that we never got to use.

“He had these feeding tubes which were just wild and he would come up with these ideas that were just amazing and very creepy. We, within the course of the movie, could only reveal certain aspects of it and that part never got released. But that was fun.

“What was important to me was to try and figure out again things being based in a kind of reality. In the movie we’ll never know where this creature comes from because we have a limited point of view. We’re going to go through this experience with these people who don’t have the knowledge that somebody from another perspective would have, they’re just trying to survive.

“We need to start basically describing the kind of things that they are seeing and I can only understand that from an emotional point of view. So the secret that we had was that the creature was a baby and that having just been born it was going through separation anxiety. It had no idea where it’s mother was and was freaking out and was in a completely foreign place and didn’t understand a thing.

“That would be sending it into a kind of infantile rage, which was very frightening. But the thing that was also very frightening to me was that not only was it going through this infantile rage but because it was suffering from this separation anxiety it was spooked.

“And as the military started shooting at it, I started thinking that if you were being attacked by a swarm of bees for the first time, it wouldn’t necessarily kill you but you’d be terrified. To me there’s nothing scarier than thinking about something that big that’s spooked.

“If you’re at the circus and suddenly the elephants get spooked you don’t want to be anywhere near that, you’re going to get crushed. So that became a way to find an approach to give an emotional or grounded point of view to something that was completely outrageous. A giant monster is absurd, but you had to find ways to make it real.

“Part of it was stuff that Neville was doing, and then this secret of knowing that it was a baby. When we were talking about doing that I said ‘can’t we communicate something in the eyes?’. So he started showing us the look that horses have when they have that spooked look. All that was to convey that feeling.

“Those are sort of the sources of it. We also really loved the idea that the creature, in contrast to other creatures you might have seen, was kind of a pale white because it’s a baby. It’s just been born and it has an ugly translucence to its skin, so those were all the things we tried to draw on.

Were you also conscious of films like Curse of the Cat People where they didn’t have the budget to show anything so they built the terror in other ways?

“Absolutely, a lot of people have compared the movie because of the Handicam style to The Blair Witch Project. The thing about Blair Witch is that they used that style very smartly to create suspense that would never be paid off because they couldn’t afford to pay it off.

“The fun of this movie was knowing that we’d be able to use that style to create suspense but that we were also doing these tremendous visual effects so that it would pay off and you would get to see all this stuff. At the end of the day in the movie you get to see everything. You see the monster, you actually have intimate contact with the monster, and you see grand scale destruction, none of which would have been possible if we had no budget.

“Another series of movies that I’d say affected that kind of thing was just the way it was so brilliantly done in Jaws or Alien, where you don’t see the shark right away, you don’t see the creature in Alien right away. What that ends up is it creates an engagement with the viewer’s imagination.

“We had a terrific soundtrack that the guys from Skywalker Sound did for us. The idea from the beginning was to try and come up with sounds that would conjure up images and a kind of anticipation that would get into your subconscious, and get into your primal fear. All of that is about withholding. You don’t immediately show people in a concrete way what something is because then it becomes containable. So the idea is to hold off on that kind of stuff so that the viewer’s mind can start to do the work.

Can you talk a little about the marketing and online viral campaign that seemed very complex?

“Well we made the trailer and the idea there was that we knew we were going to have a no name cast and that we didn’t have a lot of marketable elements, but what we did have was the element of surprise and also that they were willing to put our trailer on Transformers. It sounded like that was going to be a hit. We didn’t know it was going to be the gigantic hit that it became.

“But we thought it would be a great way to sneak in under the radar and surprise people because today when you go to the movies when you see a trailer it almost always gives you every scene in the movie and you know everything about the movie once you’ve seen that trailer.

“And on top of that, you’ve also probably heard about that, it gets published in Variety, and then Variety gets onto some other website and suddenly shocktillyoudrop has it and it’s all over the internet. So by the time you see the trailer, you know everything about it, you have a huge understanding of it. the script may have been leaked somewhere and reviewed.

“Even if you don’t know any of that, and the chances are you do, you definitely know the cast. You’ve seen their faces before. So we had this opportunity, because we were making the film in such a short time with unknowns, to surprise people kind of in the spirit of…like when we were kids Close Encounters of The Third Kind which was completely mysterious.

“It started with this very eerie documentary footage, photographs that looked very grainy, like UFO photographs. You hear this very scary narrator saying in a solemn voice ‘close encounters of the first kind: sightings’. Then you see other footage and it’s something that looks like dust and may be some weird pawed footprint, and it’s ‘close encounters of the second kind: evidence’.

“And then the third one, it’s got some of that John Williams orchestral, choral voices building and it’s ‘close encounters of the third kid: contact’, and then it cuts to black. It’s very scary, you don’t know who’s in it, you didn’t even know what close encounters were up until that trailer and you just had to see it.

“You don’t really see that kind of thing today. So we wanted a throwback to the kind of movie that audiences could have a chance to discover. That was really all that was meant to happen. What we didn’t know was that Transformers would be a monster hit – not just a hit but a monster hit – and that people would be so intrigued by this.

“What we thought we’d do is put out a teaser trailer and then a month later we’d do another little something else, and then a month later we’d do something else. And by the time our little no-name monster movie comes out people will know about it. But that wasn’t exactly what happened.

“What happened was immediately people were asking: ‘what is that? I don’t understand!’. And actually Rob Moore, who’s one of the heads of Paramount, said it would be great if we didn’t even put a title on it. So we went to the MPAA – who rate trailers and determine whether or not it’s suitable for an audience – and said: ‘we want to talk to you about not putting a title on, what are your regulations regarding that?’.

“They said, ‘regulations? No one’s ever done a teaser trailer or a trailer without a title. It’s like putting a commercial out without saying what the thing is,’. That was actually Rob’s idea, but we never guessed that there’d be this level of response so early. In fact, we all turned to each other because we thought we’d do something else secretive and cool and we all looked at each other and said ‘this is building so fast that we’d better shut up’. We decided not to say anything for a while because if we did people will be incredibly sick of us by the time we come out.

“This was July 4. We were about a week and a half into shooting, this movie didn’t even exist yet. We knew we were coming out in January 18 in the States and it was like if we did too much too soon, people were going to have had enough by the time we got to January. So we actually laid back.

“Some of the viral stuff was coming from through. We had people at Bad Robot who had been working on some of the creative side stories that do connect in, because they did have the script and they did know all the conversations we’d had about the sources of things.

“So there is some viral stuff that does connect into us, but a lot of the stuff didn’t have anything to do with us. It was just because people were so interested in making any connection they were making connections to various things that had nothing to do with us. So, the thing started to take on a life of its own, much bigger than we ever anticipated.

Are you happy that it’s called Cloverfield?

“Very happy. To be honest, when we first started we didn’t ever think they’d ever really ever let us call it Cloverfield. I mean the idea of Cloverfield is such a fun thing. The whole idea is the military coming up with these names for files and for projects that are so deceptive. The Manhattan Project was the A-bomb.

“The idea that you would have a project or a file called Cloverfield, and that it would be referring to a crazy, violent monster attack was very funny to us. It’s so incongruous. It’s almost pretty. So the idea that Cloverfield was going to refer to this crazy event seemed fun to us.

“The idea that it started getting the kind of response that it was on the internet, that’s the reason we were ultimately able to call it Cloverfield. We actually had another title we were going to use, that was kind of obscure.

“It would only totally make sense after you saw the movie, but at a certain point we started talking to the people at Paramount and said ‘wait a minute, we’re going to take one really weird, obscure title that people already know and exchange it for a weird, obscure title that people don’t know? Why are we doing that?’. So we ended up getting to stick with the title that we wanted to go with in the first place.

Do you feel Cloverfield takes the monster movie in a new direction?

“I think that what’s different about the movie is the point of view. When you see any of these movies they often have an omniscient point of view, you get to see other things that are going on, and that gives you a context about things.

“What I think was really different about this is that it gives you no context, you have to go through the experience with these people and know as little about it as they do. That creates a very visceral experience, a kind of thrill ride of sorts, and I think that’s what’s really fresh and different about the movie. It takes that concept to a very rigid extreme.

“It’s not even from a point of view, it’s literally from one camera and that is very unusual to see a movie like that. Even Blair Witch, as effectively as they did what they did they used two cameras.

“They had some black and white 16mm footage that was intercut with the Handicam. So they broke the purity of their own concept in order to tell the story. That probably worked for them because they didn’t have the visual effects and things that we were able to draw on.

“But we were really adamant that this camera be the one point of view for the whole movie, and that it feel absolutely as authentic as a giant monster can feel. I’d say that’s what fresh about the movie, that the point of view is so different.

Do you think this concept will get copied?

“I don’t know if it’ll get copied per se but from what I hear there are already some movies out there. The new Romero movie is also apparently a Handicam movie. The thing about it is when an idea comes along you think ‘it’s so simple, why aren’t there 400 of them already?’.

“And the truth is apparently there are some others. But the reason is it’s very much of the time. We’re in an era when people document their lives so thoroughly, this movie is very much of this time. So the reason I think it comes out now is because it’s very relevant to the way that our society is right now.

What were the challenges you faced in weaving in the human elements to this story?

“It was a real challenge, and the interesting thing about it is, as we were talking about the story and working out what the normal narrative would be we ended up saying, in the same when I was shooting if you saw something too clearly and it felt convenient, then suddenly the authenticity went out of the window.

“You’re like ‘oh well the camera wouldn’t be in that spot when that thing happens, it has to find it late,’. We kind of needed to do that with the story as well. We knew that we had this backstory, which was basically about getting you to know a series of relationships.

“Normally you’d have the scene where you’d be introduced to the character, it would happen a certain way, and that would be fine, you’d accept it because that’s what movies do. But this was meant to be a found document, so you needed to be in the dark for a lot of it.

“So we purposely left out certain scenes, and made certain jumps in the narrative, so the audience had to engage in putting together the puzzle of who these people were. The idea of not being able to reveal certain aspects of their lives was as important as revealing other aspects of their lives.

“If you knew everything, and it had been laid out too clearly, again it would feel phoney. And so it was a challenge to know what was important and not important to get in, there was a lot of experimentation that we did, and that was the way that we tried to achieve it.

“People will tell us whether or not they think we were successful, but it was a very different kind of problem, because normally you have the freedom to set up anything you feel needs to be set up, but here it was about doing that without giving too much away. Sometimes we had to cut stuff out, sometimes it was like ‘oh that’s too much, you don’t want to know that yet,’.

“It was about obscuring what you’re seeing enough that you begin to engage in it. Now what was also different about it too was my experience in the kind of character stuff that I’ve done, because you have multiple angles that creates a kind of emotional connection.

“When you have somebody relating to somebody and you’re able to cut to the person looking at them you get a connection between the two of them, you get an emotional reaction. When you see a point of view shot, and then you come back on an actor and you see how it affects them, how deeply he or she feels about that moment, it creates a reaction in you, the viewer.

“We didn’t even have that option, because the person who was watching all of this, you never saw his face the whole time. So that was really different too, and I would say what that ended up doing, I learned as we were making it, it took it away a slight bit from it being an emotional experience which you would have in a conventional movie, and turned it much more into a visceral experience.

“It’s much more experiential than it is even emotional. That was something that wasn’t clear to me until we got deeper into making it, because I knew that it would have some impact if you never got a reverse shot and were never able to see those reactions of the person watching, but to me that is what it ended up being, more visceral and less emotional.

Did the fact that the movie took on a life of its own after the release of the trailer become intimidating?

“Sure, that’s why we suddenly turned to ourselves and said ‘we’d better shut up,’, because the flames were already so high. It was an interesting thing because on the one hand you’re very excited that this movie that had a no-name cast and that nobody knew about just a week ago is suddenly getting all this attention.

“But on the other hand the attention was all about speculation and people were coming up with imaginative ideas for what it might be. And obviously there’s no way to please everybody because what they’re doing was making fantasy movies in their head.

“I came home one night after we’d made the teaser trailer and in that we wanted to let people know that it was a creature of some sort. So we put in some references on the roof, there’s somebody saying ‘what kind of animal sounds like that?’. So I jumped up to the microphone to put one last line in where I said ‘I saw it, it’s alive, it’s huge!’.

“I came home one night when we were filming and somebody had done an audio spectral analysis freezing it and playing it forward and the part where I said, ‘it’s alive!’, I guess must have sounded to some people like ‘it’s a lion!’. So there was all this speculation that we were making a giant lion movie.

“I thought there’s no way that people would think we were making a giant lion movie, but then I realised that what they were talking about was this thing called Voltron, which was a giant robot lion, and that we very well could have been making a movie about.

“For people who wanted to see the Voltron movie, maybe they were going to be disappointed. So, there was something really exciting about it but there was something very frightening, people were creating such anticipation for all these different movies and it’s going to be this movie, not those.

“You never knew whether or not you’ll be able to compete with people’s imaginations. So there was a part of me that was very frightened. The other thing that I knew was that there’d been all this speculation, because the teaser trailer had this Blair Witch vibe and had the head of the Statue of Liberty – some people thought that would be it, that would be the one moment where you saw anything in the movie, they felt we were clearly using this style because we couldn’t afford to do visual effects.

“That was the one thing that I felt we had in our back pocket, I knew we were using that style just to create a level of reality and anticipation and at the end of the day you were going to see everything. So I felt at least we could surprise them with that and maybe surprise them with the idea that this point of view is not just a scene but the whole movie, that that’s a kind of experienced that’s created, and just hope that people would be into that. But of course there was definitely some trepidation.”

PARAMOUNT (2008-03-14)