Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dan Trachtenberg Reddit AMA Transcript

10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Tractenberg hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything), the Reddit version of an open Q&A forum:
My new movie 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. opens everywhere this Friday (March 11). I also directed the short film PORTAL: NO ESCAPE and directed and co-wrote the short film KICKIN’. 
You can watch the trailer for 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE here.
Ask me anything! 
UPDATE: Thank you guys so much for participating in this. I've paid close attention to other AMAs, and I've been wanting to make a movie my whole life. The idea that I've made something that all you guys are paying so close attention to and caring about enough to want to do this is really overwhelming and awesome. I'm so excited that you are all going to get a chance to finally see the movie. 
I really hope you all go this weekend. I think this is a very special movie-going experience. It's one that you'll want to have in that communal way, and I know that you will be leaving the theater really wanting to talk about it, and probably hop on the boards, and discuss it even more. So, I can't wait for us to all be talking about it!
If you would like to avoid all the mayhem, trolls, and spoilers on Reddit, I have compiled all the questions and answers here:

If you could describe 10 cloverfield lane in 3 words what would you say?

Intense, fun and funny.

Whose decision was it to announce the film so late, and how did you get that past the studio?
EDIT: Oh crap, I didn't realise you were the one who made Portal: The Escape. I remember watching it ages ago. It was great!

Well, u/noicknoick, it actually was a decision that came from a collaboration between JJ and the studio, which I think was so awesome. This rarely happens, releasing a movie in such a surprising fashion, and it certainly hearkens back to the way the original Cloverfield was marketed. And, it certainly is as exciting as when I was a kid, and finding out about a movie from its trailer.

Seriously Dan, can I buy the silverware?

I think that silverware belongs to Megan.

Looks like you became a man.
I loved the Portal short film, and I just wondered what motivated you to jump on a project like that.
Thanks, and can't wait to see the film.

Thank you! Clearly, a Totally Rad Show fan!
I always wanted to make movies my whole life, but I started out making commercials. And a lot of the commercials that I did were very slice-of-life, emotional, documentary style; not big, and cinematic, and ultimately like the kind of movie that I wanted to make. So, I decided to do a short film that really spoke to what I wanted to do, ultimately, in making movies. I remember seeing a lot of really cool shorts that had this awesome special effects with big robots, and aliens, and things that I love, but I really was drawn to the idea of making a short where the special effects were more interesting and intellectual.
I'm a huge fan of Spike Jonze, and Michel Gondry, and I love the idea that there could be something really visceral and exciting, and action-based. But that's also so different, and I think it was cool to adapt a puzzle game. A puzzle game is very unlike Halo or Uncharted; those games are very cinematic properties. And taking a game like Portal that I thought at the time especially was inherently uncinematic, and trying to figure out a way to make that really feel like that could be a big awesome movie, was really exciting.

Dan... On the Jeff Cannata scale... Is this movie a good sit? Yay or Nay?

Yay. Big time yay!

Is there any after credit scenes in 10 Cloverfield Lane?

There are no after credit sequences in the movie, but there is a really cool end credit sequence.

Hi Dan, thanks for doing this AMA. First off congratulations on this movie, I have not looked at spoilers and am so excited for this. Can't wait to see it on the 10th with u/the_stoned_ape in Covington, near where we found the dead drop!
I have been following this film and the ARG linked to it intently from the day the trailer dropped. It must be surreal to have JJ Abrams contact you to do a feature, especially your first.
How was it to do your first feature film and work with a seasoned actor such as John Goodman?
Will the ARG (if you can tell us) continue past the release date of the movie like the first Cloverfield film?
Any chance you can tell us if this movie is linked to Bad Robot's upcoming "God Particle" film?
How was it filming in my hometown New Orleans?

Well, u/MugensKeeper, first of all I definitely remember you from the video that you made participating in the ARG, (unless it's someone else with the same username) so thank you for that, it was really cool. It was really intimidating to work with him. And this roll especially, he is a very intense and intimidating character, so that was specifically terrifying to work with him as we were going, but also he's a really sweet, kind of shy, lovable dude. So it was intimidating in moments (and certainly when I first met him) eventually it just became a lot of fun.
I think what they're doing is so awesome, and I think everyone is focused on making it as cool as it can be right now, however it certainly would be awesome if it were to continue, and who really knows?
I truly have no idea. Once again, we only finished making this movie a few days ago, and Bad Robot is certainly making quite a number of other movies, so who knows what else goes on it that magic factory.
It was awesome. I miss it, I wish I could go back as soon as possible. The food is delicious. Le Petite Grocery I remember vividly being amazing, and there is a restaurant called Rum House that I loved that I lived very close to while we were shooting, and a dessert place called Sucré. So yea, I wish I was still there. So good.

Hey Dan! TRS fan here... actually I was in one of you guys' intros playing guitar. Long time fan. Enough of that, question time:
Getting calls from JJ Abrams while he was working on a freaking Star Wars movie... How did you sleep? How cool and nerdy was that?
Were you ever approached by Valve after your Portal short?
The marketing for 10CL has been genius. We're all going into the movie with just a hint of curiosity on what exactly is going on plot wise. Have you been pleased with teasers and trailers so far, and do you think this way of teasing a movie is the best way?
How does it feel to finally become a man, Dan?
You're a true Hollywood success story pal, hope the movie does well. I'll be seeing it for sure. #TRS4eva

It was really, really, really awesome. There actually were never phone calls; it was more emails. But, he would email me really super detailed thoughts. Like, "Love the inserts you're getting!" And when we shot a particularly cool looking scene, I was in an airlock and he just wrote, "Airlock!!!" And the idea--I didn't know the names at the time--but the idea was, in retrospect, that he was on the set of Jacu, or on the Millennium Falcon, and watching the footage that we had shot is pretty insane and overwhelming, for sure.
I did go up and meet with Valve right after. They were, thankfully, really appreciative, and super cool about what I did. Because, I would have been heartbroken if they didn't dig it. But they were all really awesome. And yeah, it was great to be able to go up there and check out some cool levels from Half-Life 3. I'm just kidding! I definitely didn't see any of that.
Yes, I am a huge fan of trailers in general. I think they can be their own little works of art, and especially that first piece that we did, I think that it was a super cool little work of art in and of itself. And, I think what's been especially cool is that there's been really no traditional trailer for the movie. Everything has been these really interesting teaser-y pieces. This is a movie that's full of surprises, and I'm so excited that people get to really experience all those surprises the way that the movie was designed to make you experience them.
I think the twist is that I was really a man all along. We used to do a segment on the show called Dan Becomes a Man, where I learned how to tie a tie for the first time; I learned how to drive a stick shift; and as rewarding as all that was, making movies is definitely much more gratifying.

Hey Dan,
Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk with us.
I am dying to see 10 Cloverfield Lane. I loved Cloverfield and the viral marketing tied to both movies is fantastic. Very rewarding.
My question is: After watching 10 Cloverfield Lane, will the viewer be able to make the connection to why you chose to use the "Cloverfield" brand? Will it be obvious?

I think so. I mean everyone's different in terms of what's obvious to them and what isn't. The exciting thing about all the viral marketing surrounding this movie and how it connects to the viral marketing surrounding the first movie, is that not only does it expand on all that mythology, but it actually really enhances some character and story stuff in this movie, which I think is super cool. So those paying attention to all that will have some pretty cool moments as the movie is unfolding before anyone else.

Hey Dan, is the movie as suspenseful as the trailers show it to be during the whole movie?

Yes, this movie is intense and suspenseful up until the final frame.

First i would like to thank you for doing this for the Cloverfield fans! There is over 6,000 of us on the subreddit and we are working really hard trying to figure out everything about the ARG.
So with that being said, is there anything that the ARG-ers missed? Is there any clues we still havent found that we were supposed to? Also please answer the most controversial matter we have at the subreddit... Is Swamp Pop IG?

Yeah I'm completely aware! I was reading every thread from the beginning. It's something that I would have done even if I hadn't made the movie. And I am over-the-moon impressed with what people have found. I was shocked as they were being concocted; I didn't think anyone would ever have discovered all of those secrets and the way that you have to discover them. And you guys did, and it's insane!
And I hear that Swamp Pop is delicious.

First, I just want to say thank you so much for making a sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time.
Second, how long ago did you have the ARG planned? Has it been all thought out, or has it been made up as time went on? And how much fun did you guys have making all those puzzles and seeing our reactions to it?

As soon as we transitioned into finishing the movie and starting to market it, all the ARG stuff started being concocted, and we have a great team and Bad Robot and Paramount devising all that awesome stuff. I've been able to contribute a little bit, but they've been awesome at telling a separate and inclusive story, so it's not just little tidbits, it's actually really substantive. And watching your guys' reactions--reading your reactions and then seeing some of the videos that have been made has been pure delight.

I'm taking a date to see this Friday. Does she need to watch the first before we go?

She doesn't. This is its own separate story; they are not connected narratives. So, you don't really need to see the first one or the original Cloverfield to enjoy 10 Cloverfield Lane by any means. But, if you dug Cloverfield because you thought it was intense and exciting and scary, and sometimes funny, I think you will also have a great time for the same reasons with this movie.

Was it tough making the leap from shorts to directing a full feature? What were the biggest differences?

Frankly, the biggest differences were scale. The coolest part about this, for me, is that it was, on the one hand, like nothing I've ever done before because of the scale; it was also just like anything I've ever done before. Making this movie felt a lot like making movies in my backyard with my action figures and my best friends.
I had a really awesome moment one day when we were prepping and looking at the blueprints of the set, and going over all the different designs. I was sitting in a conference room in a sterile office with a bunch of grown men and women, and I realized we're all taking very seriously the idea of make believe. And that was such an awesome realization to have, and it made the whole process really fun.

How did you go from a portal short film to a feature film produced by JJ Abrams? Also, which one do you prefer, doing mostly everything on set or in post (special effects wise)

Well, after I did that short it really caught some people's attention and people were interested in what kind of movie I would make. I started developing my own ideas and reading scripts that producers and studios had and I first started developing a movie of my own called Crime of the Century that I still would love to do one day. Then I moved on to adapting the Why the Last Man movie that subsequently went away - I think now they're actually trying to do it for TV. And all the while I was going in and out of Bad Robot pitching them my stuff and them pitching me theirs, and then one day this script came looking for a director and I read it in one sitting, turning each page, making each page turn wet from my sweaty palms, and then went in and met with the producers and then subsequently J.J., and pitched them my vision for the movie, and they dug what they heard, so they allowed me to make it.
Both are exciting in their own ways, and both are absolutely necessary. I will say there were some moments that we were initially relying on visual effects, and then J.J. really championed the idea of doing things in a very low fi way. And I have to admit, after getting bit by that bug myself, shooting something in a low fi way that has a hi fi result is one of the most rewarding experiences of the whole process.

What do you think is the best route in to the industry?
I'm 16 and I want to be a filmmaker after university, do you have any advice?

Sure, yeah. I also was 16 and wanted to be a filmmaker. I think that you should be making things as much as you possibly can. I remember getting really good advice from a teacher of mine who said, "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." So, you should certainly start out doing all that you possibly can. But at a certain point, don't make things just to make them; start to really make them as best that you possibly can.
Don't just put your friends in it, in the things you're making because you have easy access to them. Don't just do things because they're easier. Do things because you think that they're the best reason to do them. From the casting of what you're making, to the sound of what you're doing, and to the look, and all that stuff. You want to really make things as often as possible so that you can find your voice and what you love, so that the things you're making are very specific to you. But then eventually, you really want to hone in and make things without any regrets.

How did you manage to work with JJ Abrams despite his insanely busy schedule with Star Wars: TFA?

The remarkable thing about JJ is that he always has so many things going on, and has a great team over at Bad Robot to support him, yet he still manages to find the time to support all of his projects.
I remember specifically a moment when he came into the room, and we were trying to figure something out that was particularly challenging. He looked up at the screen - he was like writing an email and only had 5 minutes - and he looked up at the screen with laser focus, and said, "You know, what you could do, is you could take this thing over here and make it go over here, and use this and cut here, and, I dunno, give it a try!" And left the room. And as soon as that door closed I turned and everyone was like, "We're definitely doing that!"
He's tremendous. He's just always filled with so many brilliant ideas. And even though he's very busy, he still pulls it all off. I don't know, it's very inspirational.

What is your favorite TV show and why?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV show of all time. I've watched the entire series at least four times over, and I also love the other shows that Joss Whedon did, but, Buffy will always have a special place in my heart. There are so many fantastic episodes, and I just love those characters; I love spending time with them. They feel like friends of mine.

How were you all able to keep this movie a secret for so long? It seems like no one had any idea the movie was even happening.

We just didn't talk about it.

Hi Dan, thank you for doing this AMA!
If you could go back in time and direct any movie you want, which would it be?

It's a tricky question, u/alberttesla, because that would mean that I'm erasing the idea that that a person made that movie. And does that then trickle down and erase all the movies they made after that because of that movie? But, if I really want to bend your noodle, I would have to say Back to the Future, just so that it became that much more complicated.

10 Cloverfield Lane...Lego style!

INSANE!!!! This is the coolest...

Does 10 Cloverfield Lane take place in the same universe as the first film?
How would you like to expand the Cloverfield universe after 10 Cloverfield Lane?
Would you direct a full length Portal/Half-Life movie if you could? I loved your short Portal film!

So, 10 Clover Lane and Cloverfield are two different stories. They're on different timelines. But, I think the exciting thing is that now Cloverfield is becoming a universe, and there are some connections. And hopefully, there will continue to be more connections.
Expanding the Cloverfield universe after 10 Clover Lane is not my job, it's my bosses'. And I'm excited to see what he concocts as much as you guys!
And thank you! I think that would be really exciting. I know that those movies are certainly a development and I really did enjoy making that short. But, I only just finished this movie and I have no idea what I'm going to do next now.

Different timelines meaning, the events of Cloverfield did NOT happen in 10 Cloverfield Lane? If that's the case, how can there be a Cloverfield Universe?

The Cloverfield universe, or "Cloververse", is really speaking to the name taking on this new meaning, this name being this platform to tell really unique, original stories that are truly bound by that same tone, that same sensibility. Always very intense and scary and unique takes on familiar genres. I think what was so exciting about the originally Cloverfield is that it was such a unique take on a familiar genre, and it being this found footage experience, this first person experience. This movie is more classically, traditionally told, but I still went through great strides to make it feel less like something that you watch, and more like something that you experience. Frankly I'm so inspired by video games these days and took note from the idea that there's a shorthand in first person shooter where you feel like you are the protagonist, but that same feeling comes across in all of the great 3rd person action/adventure games like the Uncharted’s or even Last of Us. This movie is a 3rd person narrative that I still wanted to feel subjective, and I still wanted you to really feel like you were in the shoes of the main character.

AMC IMAX exclusive 10 Cloverfield Lane posters

I am so excited we are putting these out! I'm a huge Saul Bass fan and our movie is very much inspired by Hitchcock's sensibilities. Hope you dig these as much as me!

Hey Dan,
Really curious, what was your favorite theory you've seen so far about the film?
P.S. Looking forward to Thursday night

My favorite theory so far came from the Cloverfield podcast, where they wondered if that blue barrel just contained John Goodman's farts. And I don't want to ruin the movie, so I won't reveal whether or not that is actually true. But, me and my editor were laughing our asses off when we heard that.
permalinkembedsaveparentreportgive goldreply
samuel_leumas 1 point 58 minutes ago 
Give due credit to this man. He's the guy that started it all

Are you aware of the redditers working on the arg over at /r/10cloverfieldlane

Yes! See my last excited answer.

Will TRS come back in any form? Also, can you tell us what movie you're doing next?

Any form certainly leaves that very open ended. And as we know, monsters come in many forms, so, who knows.
I don't know. I can't wait to find out myself! I'm very excited to make something else, but I'm also excited for this movie to come out.

How did the Portal short inform how you shot the new Cloverfield project?

There definitely are some similarities initially between the two. The thing that I was most excited about, in making that Portal short and then in this movie, is having the audience be putting a puzzle together at the same time that the main character is. I think that creates a special, rewarding joy for audiences, and it puts them more firmly in the protagonist's POV, and it's just a more satisfying and engaging movie-watching experience, when you feel like you're participating in the narrative.

Hey Dan! Do you like cheese?

Is that a thing? I don't know if that's a thing. If it's a thing, I don't know. If it's not a thing and you're just asking me if I like cheese, I fucking love cheese.

What are the characters in the bunker favourite meal?


Is your Cannibal Airlines shirt in your 'proof picture' IG?

Funny. Well Cannibal Airlines isn't really in game even in and of itself. It is not in game, but it is in movie.

Thanks for taking the time to do this this morning, cant wait to see 10 Cloverfield Lane on Thursday!
How awesome is John Goodman?

He's super awesome.

Hey Dan, just wanted to say congrats, it's been an insane couple of years, how did you feel after finally letting the secret out about the movie and it's release?

It was insanely exciting! As some of you know, I am a big film geek and love talking about movies; and here I was making my first movie, and I couldn't talk about it with anyone! It was incredibly excruciating and frustrating. So, it finally getting out there, I was bursting at the seams and so excited! And now that the movie itself is finally coming out, I can't wait to talk to people about it and hear what they think.

Did you get to work with any camera, cinematography, or stunt equipment that you never thought you'd get to work with?

Interesting. I don't know that I ever thought that I wouldn't have a chance to work with it, but I was certainly excited to work with a Gimbal! That is a word that I've heard my entire life on every HBO Behind the Scenes, Making of thing, and it was Gimbal, Gimbal, Gimbal...and I finally did something using a Gimbal! And it was kinda cool. It wasn't what I thought it would be, it wasn't so fabulous.
In fact that's one of the things that I was speaking to earlier, that JJ made us do in a lo-fi way, we did some stuff in a Gimbal that looked fine, but we found that when we did something in a more homespun, just moving the camera aggressively, and having Mary do her thing, and really throw her body around specifically in a car crash that happens in the movie, it was even more effective than anything we did with that expensive tool.

Hey Dan! Very much excited for the movie, it seems to be this perfect combination between one of my favorite films and one of my favorite people!
How excited are you for Dark Souls 3?

Well, great name! And I am so excited that the movie is coming out March 11th so that I have time to actually play Dark Souls 3. I was actually playing Bloodborne even while we were still working on the movie, but I'm glad that I can really hone in and focus on Dark Souls 3, and start looking at builds and what kind of character I'm going to play.

Would you be interested in doing a Half-Life feature?
That seems to be where this is going.

Yeah! I mean I love Half-Life, but to be perfectly honest, I'd much rather play Half-Life 3 than make a Half-Life movie. That isn't a knock against the idea of making the movies, that's just how badly I want there to actually be a Half-Life 3.

Hey, Dan!
I want to thank you so much for contributing to the half-decade of radness that was The Totally Rad Show! You, Jeff, and Alex instilled inspiration and optimism in myself at an impressionable age, and I am very appreciative. I still binge through old episodes to get me through rough days. I think all the fans, (including those at the still kickin’ /r/TheTotallyRadShow/,) are proud to see Dan finally become a man! On to the interrogation:
Your distinct flavor for movies was palpable throughout TRS. Obviously, the stylings of 80’s Spielberg-era stuff was a recurring theme. 80’s or otherwise: what sensibilities have you carried on from your TRS days that you really wanted to make sure came through your work on 10 Cloverfield Ln.? Conversely, what sensibilities, in the last few years or so, have you changed your mind about or perhaps picked up along the way that have informed the film?
In interviews, John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. spoke to the intimacy of filming 10 Cloverfield Lane. Winstead described the experience “like making a movie with your friends.” Do you feel this intimacy has manifest itself meaningfully in the film? Were there any awesomely memorable set moments you could share?
This being your first feature production, what specific lessons did you glean, from a filmmaking perspective, about making movies at this scale in contrast to smaller productions?
Raddest movie, game, TV show, and comic since TRS?
Any chance at a 5 year reunion episode of TRS to bestow the top 5 Raddies of the last half-decade?
Again, thanks so much for everything and I am looking forward to seeing the film and anything of yours to come!

what sensibilities have you carried on from your TRS days that you really wanted to make sure came through your work on 10 Cloverfield Ln.? Conversely, what sensibilities, in the last few years or so, have you changed your mind about or perhaps picked up along the way that have informed the film?
That's a really good question. Interesting, very very interesting. I'm not sure my sensibilities have changed that much, especially from now towards the end of TRS, and I think I always loved the Amblin E films that I grew up with and loved the sensibilities of Joss Whedon and JJ, who both manage to tell really exciting, extra-ordinary stories that also just feel very human, that they both always played with genre and dug into what makes those things work, and that's what was so exciting for this movie to make this movie feel as suspenseful and exciting as possible while also still being fun and funny like the filmmakers I admire so much. The thing I've always loved is when something isn't just one thing--when something can be funny and sincere and scary and thrilling all in one thing. I think I was always drawn to those movies back when we were reviewing them, and I'm excited that I got the chance to hopefully make something that operates the same way.
In interviews, John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. spoke to the intimacy of filming 10 Cloverfield Lane. Winstead described the experience “like making a movie with your friends.” Do you feel this intimacy has manifest itself meaningfully in the film? Were there any awesomely memorable set moments you could share?
I think in some ways yes, and in some ways no. Certainly the bond between Mary and John Gallagher's characters really showed themselves on the screen. There's a lot of really fun and funny improvs that they did that made it into the movie. At the same time the movie ended up being incredibly scary and nail bitey, and the set was not like that at all. The making of the movie was really pleasurable and fun. We were all really like minded and had all the same set of references, so we got along so well. In terms of set stories, we attempted to surprise Mary with a roll of toilet paper every now and then that made its way into frames with her when she was least expecting it, and sometimes much to our camera operator’s chagrin who was really annoyed that we just blew a take just to make her laugh even though he had to hold that heavy camera. But it was a lot of fun.
This being your first feature production, what specific lessons did you glean, from a filmmaking perspective, about making movies at this scale in contrast to smaller productions?
I learned how important it was to listen to the crew, and I realized that if I didn't know something I didn't have to pretend to know something. I think that if I were to have been more didactic and tell people the way that I felt that it had to be done, then the movie, or at least that part of the movie, would only be as good as what I could come up with as opposed to really relying on their skills and sensibilities and making it even better than I could come up with on my own.
Raddest movie, game, TV show, and comic since TRS?
Mad Max: Fury Road, easy.
Any chance at a 5 year reunion episode of TRS to bestow the top 5 Raddies of the last half-decade?
That could be cool. That could totally be cool.
EDIT: Formatting

No comments:

Post a Comment