Monday, January 14, 2008

Cloverfield Production Notes has scored the official production notes of Cloverfield from Paramount. It covers alot of the process of putting Cloverfield together and worth a read.

The notes are spread across six posts on the site forum. Click here to begin.

Some highlights:
- Movie started as idea from a toy store visit in Japan and seeing Godzilla on the store shelves.
- Went from a five page treatment to 58 page outline from Drew Goddard over Christmas 2006 which was pitched to Paramount execs Brad Weston and Brad Grey.
- Matt Reeves, director of the film, was childhood friend of JJ Abrams, was chosen as cared about character in film and "apply a scrutiny to the heart of each character".
- 1st act is a 20 minutes, get to know the characters party sequence and then things kick off with the head of the Statue of Liberty landing nearby.
- A parallel story is footage between Rob and Beth and their relationship.
- The Hud character only point of view was born out of YouTube where can find videos that capture other people's reactions to events.
- This created a challenge since couldn't do the usual coverage and tossed out most of "the usual cinematic tools" resulting in the replication "of a novice using a video camera" to capture the "chaos around him." For example, just missing creature sightings and other events or starting the action in the middle of it rather then the usual before, during and after. So to sum, you professional cameramen trying to act unprofessional, while professionally recording events as needed by the director and the script.
- In casting, wanted to avoid "instantly recognizable faces" to help create realism. Also helps on the budget.
- Hud (TJ Miller) is the film camera man with a sense of humor that is rarely scene but provides the voice and heart of the movie.
- The informal name of the monster is "Clover" who is a "baby...confused, disoriented and irritable...and down in the water for thousands and thousands of years." Also confused and angry about the new environment, NYC, and the annoying things hurting him (humans).
- The 25-story monster design from Neville Page who also just finished work on James Cameron's Avatar and currently on Star Trek XI.
- From design it went to Tippett Studio "to implement and refine the monster" in CGI for the shots its in.
- Part of the "post-birth ritual" includes itching itself on a building, releasing parasites that cause further havoc.
- The parasites are a result of makin the human interaction relevant with a one on one struggle. They are "voracious, rabid, bounding nature, but they also have a crab-like crawl...viciousness of a dog, but with the ability to climb walls and stick to things."
- The film title, Cloverfield is based off a street near Abrams' office. "Greyshot" was one title, based off bridge two characters hide under, that was almost used. Since Cloverdield became the name the film was known by (other then "1-18-08") decided to just stick with it.
- The Statue of Liberty headshot used in the first teaser trailer in June was creating by Hammerhead Productions on the Paramount back lot and enhanced by Double Negative for use in the final film. The shot is a homage to 1981 film "Escape from New York".
- Tippett Studio and Double Negative also did the CGI for the many collapsing building in the film, with YouTube providing visual reference to help in the realism. Further realism was added by basically recreating the building inside and out with model floors, furniture, glass, etc so that when collapsed the physics would be realistic.
- The handheld POV camera "multipled [the visual effects] challenge exponentially" since the camera shakes, jerks and zooms had to be traked by hand, frame by frame, rather then by computer.
- The Brooklyn Bridge doesn't survive the film unscathed, its destruction filmed by The Downey Stages using a constructed 50ft section to film panics people leaving their cars, this was then inserted onto a CGI bridge with the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge used as reference for how a real suspension bridge would collapse.

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