Artist talks about his favorite part of the creative process and co-directing the short Mater and the Ghostlight with John Lasseter.
David Goyer's been doing the comic thing for years; it was time for him to switch it up a bit. He did just that in his new teen melodrama, The Invisible.
It stars Justin Chatwin and newcomer Margarita Levieva, as well as Marcia Gay Harden playing Justin's mom. Justin plays a kid, a little over-pretentious, who has the gift of words; Margarita is the school misfit. One night, after one bad mistake, Margarita attacks Justin in a fit of rage, beating him to death.
With the spirit of Justin haunting Margarita throughout the film, both people change forever, and discover a whole new side to themselves. David took the reigns on The Invisible as director; it's based on the script by Christine Roum, and the original Swedish flick written by Mick Davis.
David sat down with Movieweb.com on the Walt Disney Studio lot in Burbank, CA to talk about the film and his other comic choices; here's what he had to say:
How did you come to the project?
David Goyer: I had seen the Swedish film and I really liked it and I had my agent call around and say, 'Does anyone represent the rights to this movie or anything like that?' and they said, 'Well, as a matter of fact, yes, and the writer of the original movie is in town; why don't you meet with him?' At the time I had a first look deal at New Line so I was allowed to take it into New Line but not other studios, and New Line didn't buy it and Spyglass bought it. A couple years later, I was having a general meeting with Spyglass and I was asking them what they were doing. They kind of brushed past this one, not because they didn't like it but because they thought I wouldn't be interested in it. And I said, 'Well actually I've seen the original movie' and all of that and that's how it happened.
What was the relationship between Justin Chatwin and Margarita Leveiva off screen?
David Goyer: It's funny because Nick and Peter are such good friends in the movie, I wanted Justin and Chris to hang out a lot together. So two or three weeks before the movie, I instructed them to just go out every night and hang out on the weekends. I paid for them to have dinner a bunch of times because I wanted them to be close. But I actually forbade Margarita to talk to Justin and told them I didn't want them hanging out together and I didn't want them asking questions about each other. I didn't want them to know each other and I didn't want them to be comfortable around each other and they weren't at the beginning. It was great; they were actually kind of adversarial which is what I wanted. You have to employ all sorts of different methods when you're working with actors; there's such a wide gamut in terms of their training. Someone like Alex O'Laughlin who plays Marcus, he's Australian and he was trained in the Shakespeare company and really traditional English and then Australian theater, so he has a completely different way of working. People like particularly Justin didn't have any real kind of training per se so you couldn't necessarily employ the same methods to direct them. I wanted the two of them separate and apart and it worked.
Can you talk about how you used music to drive the film?
David Goyer: I knew that this film is a teen melodrama and it was meant to be that, and so because of that I wanted to use music, but I also wanted to have the film go from a more naturalistic gradually to a more surrealistic or magic realism if you will. We did that with the visuals where at the beginning it's a lot more hand held and naturalistic and by the end of the film it becomes much more expressionistic. In the digital intermediate, we pushed all the colors and crushed the blacks a lot more and things like that, but I wanted to do the same thing with music. I decided at the outset that the first half of the film would be scored with songs and the second half of the film would be scored with traditional orchestral score and it would gradually transition from one to the other. What I was able to do in this movie which I hadn't done before was I brought the music supervisor on before we started shooting, and we culled through thousands of songs to come up with a sound track for the film, and then I burned a 3-D set for all the cast and crew and gave that to them before we started shooting; often I would play the songs before the appropriate scenes. I would say about half the songs in the film ended up being songs that we had chosen and then the other half were just songs that emerged over the next year or so, newer songs that emerged that hadn't existed before that - that was really cool. And then in some cases I was able to get bands to re-record things or record things specifically. There's a song called 220 Boy in the movie by a band called Suicide Sports Club and I'm a pretty avid music fan. There was also an opportunity, largely because we didn't have the kind of music budget that Spider-Man would have, you know, which is an unlimited budget. We had to pick bands that were more up and comers and a lot of the bands that I like aren't your Top 40 kind of bands. They're alternatives, so I was able to pick songs and acts that had a certain amount of integrity, but in the instance of this song by Suicide Sports Club, it was perfect for the scene, but that original song was called 220 Girl. We called the band and said, 'Would you re-record it as 220 Boy?' which they did; that was kind of fun.
What do you look for in a script? Is it different for a comic book movie than something like this?
David Goyer: I have no idea how to answer that question; you just look for something that sticks. The thing about The Invisible was I watched the original Swedish film; I thought I was going to turn it off after 10 minutes. It didn't go the way I thought it was going to go. I kept on and after the film ended, I was moved by it and a week later I was still thinking about it and then a week later I was still thinking about it and it just stuck with me. The nice thing about this movie is it just came out of a completely different left field; honestly, to date, that movie was the best experience I've ever had making a movie. There was no discord with the studio or the producers or the actors; it was just nice, and it was done within certain budget parameters that allowed us to have creative freedom. We didn't need to have an A-list movie star. Disney and Spyglass allowed me to cast whomever I wanted, to use unknowns, things like that - trust me, that doesn't always happen.
As for what you're known for, Batman - are we going to see more of the detective side of the character in The Dark Knight?
David Goyer: Dude, I'm not going to say anything about that. Did he say anything?
He said he was hoping to see more of the detective side and that you guys had to take a crack at the script afterwards.
David Goyer: I won't say anything largely out of respect for Chris; in the first film, Chris just wanted to keep everything under lock and key and I think at the end of the day we all really respect Chris as a filmmaker. He doesn't want anything said to the fans, so we won't say anything.
Are you now directing Supermax? Writing?
David Goyer: Not directing, not writing; producing. A young writer named Justin Marks who I'd read a spec screenplay of his; he's very young, he's 22. I thought it was great and he just started writing a week ago.
Is it going to be kind of dark like Batman?
David Goyer: Oh yeah, he goes to prison.
What other heroes or villains are we going to see?
David Goyer: I can't say, I can't say; but we're culling not just from the Green Arrow mythology. We're culling from the whole DC universe so anybody could show up; that'll be part of the fun.
By anybody you mean either heroes or villains could show up?
David Goyer: Yes, that's all I can say.
Can you talk about The Flash? Shawn Levy is now doing the film version; do you know if they're keeping with any of the stuff that you were hoping to do?
David Goyer: I have no idea; it's funny I ended up having lunch with Joss (Whedon) a couple weeks after that, and it was complete coincidence that that happened on the same day. We had lunch and we were talking about it. My relationship with Warner Bros. is great; a month later we did this Supermax Green Arrow thing. Fortunately, I'm in a position where I no longer have to - if I don't want to do something, I don't have to do it. If I don't like the approach creatively or if there's a disagreement, then I'd just rather not do it. It takes too long to make the movies; truly, it became apparent that there was a divergence of opinion as to what the movie should be, so I just said let me do something else and that's what happened. I have no idea what they're going to do and I'm not BS'ing you; I just said whatever, I'll do something else.
David's next, The Invisible opens in theaters April 27th; it's rated PG-13.