Warner Brothers, Greg Silverman, Charlie discussed on Happy Sad Confused
I just didn't want to do something for the sake of doing something I recognized. That was coming from a place of extreme privilege because I had a TV show that I owned. That was on the air for seven or eight years. I didn't have to do do those jobs. I didn't want but and I remember even talking to my My agent at the time and then being like you know you're passing on everything and I like you know it's not even that I have this like incredibly discerning or discriminating taste. It's just the stuff that I'm getting garbage and I don't WanNa work just to work and I. I learned very early on from talking to people that that idea of like a springboard project just doesn't work you have to love what you're doing have you can't do something just because you think it's going to get you something else because it's too much work and then ultimately you could also backfire where people see it and they go well. That guy's terrible so I kind of just held back on that and then there were other TV projects but couldn't act on them so I was able to write and produce but I couldn't act and we couldn't act on them and we have a very specific comedic sense right and so it's like we would try to write things in then we would shoot a pilot and you know it's not that we didn't hire great actors. We did but they just didn't do what we did. And I remember at one point. I was directing a pilot that I wrote or Co wrote with Charlie and we thought it was really funny and we hired a through the casting process and we hired a really great actor and but he wasn't necessarily known for being very funny but it was studio loved him and we were like okay but we can make it work and I remember on the first day. The scene was that he was being humiliated right and I was like okay. So what's happening here is like you're being a basically like torn down. You're being humiliated. And he was like okay give it. Why is that funny and I was like. I turned a CHARLEENA'S I don't know with us there. I Turn Charlie. I was like I don't know what we're GONNA do man like he just like it's not. I don't know how to give somebody direction if they don't understand. Why being humiliated is funny. He was more of like. I'm a star. You know what I mean and so we realized that that's not GonNa work so then I went from that to Last three years I was going to make the minecraft moving. Yeah to write and direct the minecraft movie and that was actually really pleasant experience. Almost all the way through up until the point where it wasn't great great great and look at look all due all due. Respect to warner brothers. At the time I mean it was a massive swing for them. And there was this executive. There who's the head of production named Greg Silverman? And he was such a champion of mine and a really sweet guy. And I don't know if you've if you've ever met Greg so he was running brothers for a long time and and I remember they were looking for somebody to that would have a different take on this on this mass potentially massive franchise and only thing. I had ever directed were a episodes of television and a couple of shorts here and there to kind of prove my worth in the visual effects room. Because I just like you know your brother and Eddie like I'm I'm working TV. But I'm also interested in some of the same movies. I'm seeing posters for right in your in your office and I'm like okay. If I'M GONNA to get a chance to do that. I have to prove myself like it. It was sunny so I start making these shorts and then paying money to have visual effects companies come in and and I took this short and then take that I had for the minecraft movie and I went is that there's no way they're gonNA give me this job and I pitched it to the people for minecraft and then I pitched it to warner brothers and they hired me so I couldn't believe. Are you comfortable saying what your take was? Because I had the point conversations with Mike my nephews trying to explain what minecraft is to me and I still don't honestly get it so I'm just curious like what what I would have been. Yeah so I know. I'm uncomfortable talking about it. Because fuck them at this point you know I loved playing the game and I love playing it with my kids and I basically and Lego had they had just come out and Chris and Phil to me are like comedy. God's right so I sort of looked at the same way which is like a video games that I've seen video game movies in the past most of which don't work and I think part of the reason they don't work because there's already a fixed narrative and the experience of gaming's that you're a part of the narrative to a certain extent right like you're controlling what's happening in the game and then all of a sudden you see it up in movie form and you're like well now. I'm just a passive passive right and so and so. I thought one of the greatest assets that to minecraft was that they didn't have a fix narrative that it was an open world experience. And all you were essentially given where the building blocks to do whatever you want and so it was one of those games where you're of course it's A. It's a much younger audience. I thought what an amazing tool much like Lagos right. Except now you're now you're talking with infinite possibilities because it's digital to give to kids and not just kids but but any person who feels powerless rights and kids mostly feel powerless all day long. They're being told what to do how to dress. Do your homework go to bed. And and I felt like that could maybe extend to other people and I think everybody feels marginalized a certain extent. You feel as though your boss is telling you what to do all day long or your spouses or you just feel like you're you're you don't have the sense of agency over your own life and the game gave you that and I thought well that's a really profound experience and I think that's why it's really hitting all over the world because these kids might seem silly but these kids in the graphics were awful by design because who cares. The most important part was that you were given agency over your own experience in the game. And that's sort of what I started with. I was like well. That's like the the the the thematic component Yup and I remember I spent some time up at Pixar became friends with some some of the guys up there. Andrew Andrew Stanton who's this incredible director and became a good friend of mine and they asked me to come up and be a part of one of their brains sessions which is wow what a learn hoedspruit hetty room and really learning how these movies get made and what a collaborative process but what. Andrew always said was. He basically breaks every single movie. He's ever worked on into one. Maximum one very short maximum and no matter what he can always come back to that right if he's lost at any point in the film what's our and it should be that simple. It shouldn't be two sentences. It should be one sentence. It should be a few words. And that's why those films by the way work on the massive level they do because there's simplicity of clarity of purpose even if you're not cognizant of it yes and then. He challenged me and was like go back and go figure out. Go to your all your favorite movies and figure out what that maximum is and by the way it might be different from what you know. Zemeckis was intending. But that doesn't matter what matters is your view on what you got out of it right. That's none of your business anymore. That's another lesson I've learned. But but you as long as you have that balanced right and so I came up with what that was for me and then I pitched that to warner brothers and then I pitched a very simple story about people taking agency over their own experience in this in this digital landscape and and they went for and and man like talk about really like twin. Your balls on the line right like Greg civil moves like this one hundred and fifty million dollar movie right and and yet I really felt supported all the way through and we got to the point where we had a script that was in pretty good shape and you know how it works. They're always rewriting. But we had a production team. We had an art department. We had a visual Effects House. Dozens of we had on the Steve. Carell signed on to star in it. We had stages booked stages books and it was two weeks before the holidays. And someone sends me a text. They say hey Greg Silverman leaving warner brothers and I was like Oh. That's a bummer. I mean he's a really good friend of mine I really love him and I should have gone. Hollywood that you're not right at first. Impulse is not GonNa do to me. I wish them great luck. I don't know what the situation was. I- he seemed happy. He was going to go off and produce and I was like. Oh Okay I'll give them a buzz and say thank you for everything and then I'll get back to work. Well it's not really the way the movie business works zoo. Leadership has their own ideas and that was really that. Was it like an again? Toby who runs who. I don't know if it's still a superhero around the studio rent studio then. He was actually very gracious and he never actually really said. I don't believe in your you can't do this. It just slowly died on the vine and I don't think it was saying unless things because it's I'm saying I do say privately to I don't I don't harbor any resentment I get I get it. I get the way that it works right. It's like he comes in. And I'm not his Guy Greg Guy and and he had a different vision for what the studio was going to be and so it didn't happen but the thing that bum meow was that it was three two and a half years of my life and we were a month away. I was a month away from moving to Vancouver to start prep. Steve was already locked in his deal was done like we were making the move. Were packed bags. Oh Yeah we had. We had a house rented that the kids were gonNA come up to Vancouver and all of a sudden. It wasn't happening and I was like..