Have you heard that The Cabin in the Woods is one of the coolest movies of the year? If you read any movie blogs, ours included, you probably have. We've been raving about it ever since its premiere at Butt-Numb-a-Thon last November. And at SXSW. And when it hit theaters. And now with the Blu-ray and DVD hitting store shelves this week, we'll just keep on going.
The home video release actually gave us the opportunity to talk to writer-director Drew Goddard about this exact movie blogging echo chamber he's found himself in. Not only have all of us been yammering on about Cabin for months, but we also all picked up on the World War Z controversy that Goddard inadvertantly became a part of.
So instead of talking to the filmmaker about his favorite monsters in Cabin, we wanted to talk about the climate in which movies are written about and promoted and how it affects him personally and professionally.
Movies.com: Do you read movie blogs in general?
Drew Goddard: I used to, but not as much as I once did. And it's for no particular reason other than I don't like being spoiled. I really don't. I feel like we've just become lax with that. I'm not a guy who is going to complain about people who like them. We live in the information age, and if people want to know, they're going to know. I just don't. I just don't like to know about it and I don't like getting mad at movie blogs for spoiling things because I just think, "Well, that's your own dumbass fault for reading them, Drew." So I've pulled back on a lot of it.
Movies.com: Cabin is one of those titles that really entered the movie blog echo chamber where everyone just praised the hell out of it and hyped it up. Do you have any unique perspective on how that affects anything?
Goddard: It's a little bit of "I made the movie and whatever happens, happens." Because we did have such a long wait with Cabin, we sort of lived in this vacuum where we heard nothing about it for years, which is weird. I'm not used to that. So it was nice that, especially with BNAT, to hear that it was finding its audience. It was more of a relief than anything. We lived with it for so long that we started to wonder if it would ever come out, so once we started to hear that people did like it, it really, really meant a lot. Then it sort of took on its life of its own, like you're talking about, and I looked at Joss and said, "You know, I don't think we're ever going to get these good of reviews again in our careers." It was crazy that a movie this weird and this bloody was getting the reception that it was and still is. It was incredibly satisfying and nice to see our weird little child get the attention we felt it deserved.
Movies.com: On a personal level it's rewarding, but does isolating yourself from that blogosphere and echo chamber have an effect on you professionally?
Goddard: I feel like, professionally, the more you can stay disconnected, the better. So much of moviemaking is wanting to give people the chance to make mistakes and fail. I hate when people review screenplays of movies that are still being written. Anyone who has ever written anything knows it takes a couple of drafts to get anything right, and the world we're living in these days, people see a first cut or read a first draft and they can kill a project with bad word of mouth. The truth is, any project, no matter how good it is, at some point in its genesis it was terrible. Whatever movie you love... at some point in Star Wars, there was a draft that was bad. And they allowed it through the process to make it good. I do think there's a real danger in engaging early, so I do think you need to protect ideas and allow yourself to fail in the process before you submit it to the world.
Movies.com: What was your involvement with World War Z?
Goddard: I don't like to say too much, because again, until the movie comes out, who knows. It wasn't that different. I have friends at studios who ask me to give them my opinions on movies all the time, I don't know why it was any different with World War Z. It felt a little bit like the knives were coming out regardless of what was happening with World War Z. But I'm really excited for people to see that first trailer. As soon as people see Brad Pitt fighting zombies on a global level, everyone is going to get real quiet, because it is pretty awesome.
Movies.com: Writers are constantly being brought in on projects at so many different stages of production. How do you see that sort of "inside baseball" stuff and should it even affect audiences?
Goddard: I don't think it should because I don't think it's anything new. I just think because of the Internet age we're more aware of it. If you look back, that's been happening since the early studio systems like MGM. They've had multiple writers working on multiple movies all the time, that's just the way it's always been. And there's a reason the WGA has rules about it because it is so commonplace. Within the brotherhood of writers, we all know it happens, and I think it's a good thing. I think the more intelligent people you can have contribute to a movie, the better. I try not to worry about it too much because at the end of the day it all comes down to the individual movie. Certainly some individual movies are good, some are bad, and there doesn't seem to be any sort of correlation of how many people worked on it.
Movies.com: You cut your teeth working for Joss Whedon and his production company, Mutant Enemy. What sort of lessons did you take away from those experiences?
Goddard: The thing about Joss is he was always so hard on story. We would work on the story for months before we ever even wrote anything, and I think not doing that is a mistake. In Hollywood, people tend to send off a script right away, and I'm always like, "Guys, the story is first. If we get the story right, writing it is easy. If we don't, it's going to cause all sorts of problems. You're going to think the project is in trouble, when the truth is we just didn't spend enough time on the story."
That was always Joss' way. Sometimes we'd say, "Okay, this is good enough, we'll figure it out when it comes down to the script" and he would never let us do that. He made it so that we were always pressing forward.
Movies.com: Do you have any immediate plans to work with any other Mutant Enemy people?
Goddard: Nothing immediate, no, but we've all got a sort of special love for everyone who came up through that sort of school. It's so satisfying to see all of them go on to such success around the industry, so I'm always looking for a way to work with any of them again.
Movies.com: Any plans to go back to TV work?
Goddard: There's something infectious about the TV world that I miss. Every eight days you have to put out a new episode and it takes your safety net away and you have to go go go and I miss that. There's an infectious energy that spreads through a writing staff when you don't have a choice and you have to come up with something right away. When you have that it's really exciting and I do miss it, so I'm sure I will return to TV to get a dose of it again. I'm very lucky in that I got to work on a lot of fun shows, that's for sure.
Movies.com: Are there any more of those happy accidents like the "Brady Bunch monitors" that you discovered after The Cabin in the Woods was done?
Goddard: It's not like we set out to make a Brady Bunch thing, you just watch it and go,"Oh, it's like the Brady Bunch!" So I'm sure the movie is filled with stuff that, consciously or not, just happens. That entire third act was designed for people to go through frame by frame to discover the stuff we hid in there. We put an incredible amount of work into creating scenes that were only seen for two seconds on the background of a monitor. We worked really hard on that, and sometimes your eye can't even see it, so you need to go through frame by frame to see it. So I'm excited for people to discover some of the stuff we hid in there.
Movies.com: So what's next for you? Where are you at with Robopocalypse?
Goddard: Robopocalypse is, I think, scheduled to shoot in the spring and I am very, very excited for the world to see what Mr. Spielberg has been cooking up. It's exciting to see him back in epic science-fiction mode. I think people are going to be blown away, so I'm really excited for that to come out.