Day One Director Learned You Can’t Direct a Cat [Exclusive]


These aliens, though, they’re so scary. Anything with limbs that are a little too long immediately give me the ick in ways that I don’t like. So when you’re coming up with the scares or these big set piece moments, where does that come along in the process for you? Because the human stuff is so dialed in, and then this movie reminds you, “Oh, don’t forget, there are giant aliens that are going to wipe you out if you don’t shut up.” So where do these set pieces come in? Do they come organically in the script, or is it like, “All right, we’ve had X amount of pages of heartfelt emotional stuff, let’s blow up a building?”

Yeah, I mean, it’s a little bit of both. You want all of these moments to feel rooted in character, perceived through the lens of character and to be playing a role in this character’s journey. But yeah, it’s a little bit of everything. I think the things I was always thinking about was one, how do we piece this out so that there feels like there’s a build to how we’re interacting with these creatures? So at first we’re dealing with shadows and little pieces, and then by the end, you can have two dozen creatures chasing our main characters. And how we escalate that gradually was a big thing that we were always keeping in mind. One thing I think is really powerful about these creatures is that kind of uncanny valley thing where it’s like if you look at them in the right way for a second, you almost think it’s a person.

The first time we see a creature, you see this silhouette that sort of just looks like a person standing up. And then suddenly, the head opens up and the arms come out and it’s like, “Oh, what the heck is that?” I think there’s something fun to play with there. And there’s a moment where the creature first finds Reuben and its head comes into frame and it sort of just feels like this weird, faceless, flat thing, and then it opens up. I think playing with kind of that uncanny nature of the creatures is fun, and then kind of escalating it into the herd dynamic side of it was exciting to me. This idea that there’s so many of these creatures and they are just thundering through the city. And if there’s a sound going by of a helicopter, you’re about to get a herd of a thousand creatures running by.

Thinking of how all those things could sort of play out, you start piecing those things together and then the logical extensions of them come about. Like, when helicopters are coming by to deliver the order to evacuate, that’s important that you hear the evacuation order. But then that also presents a threat because we’ve learned that when helicopters go by, there’s going to be a herd of creatures and you need to hide from it. So some of it just sort of evolves naturally in that way from the things that are specific and interesting about the creatures. 

And then, yeah, you’re always thinking about the pace of the movie overall. If you were just always at a 10 of intensity, it would start feeling monotonous. And if you were always in sort the quiet, emotional space, it would start feeling monotonous. You always have to be keeping that rollercoaster ride going up and down and balancing those things.

Totally. I have time for one last question for you. So if it’s your end of the world, what is your Patsy’s Pizza? What is the thing that you are going after because you’ve got to, before everything comes to the end?

I mean, it wouldn’t work as well for mine because you kind of need someone to be making it, but I would do sushi. I love some sushi. But I don’t know, maybe there’s an omakase chef still going at it. But yeah, I love me some sushi.

“A Quiet Place: Day One” is in theaters now.

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