By Rebecca Daniel, Senior Editor
Want the inside scoop on Dave Made a Maze? We’ve got you covered! Here’s some behind the scenes info straight from the cast and crew. After Friday night’s screening, Director Bill Watterson, lead actress Meera Kumbhani, and producers John Charles Meyer and John Chuldenko stuck around to answer a few questions about their film.
Q: Where did the vision of the film come from?
A: Bill Watterson: “The gag was the cardboard box. It was always the cardboard box. The whole idea was we took what was in the real world and then what happened to it when you went into the maze got its hands on it? So everything that was in the real world got exaggerated, blown around and of that same aesthetic. We did that with the blood and the gore and everything came from an artistic hand made vibe. I don’t know that we knew how awesome the cardboard aspect would be in the writing. We got all of the right people to get it done on the art department side. When the art director got his hands on it he said ‘well I know a guy from the Cardboard Institute of Technology’ and the word just started spreading among people who were working in fine art in cardboard as a medium. They just started flocking to the project for obvious reasons..they were inspired, excited, and it was just a matter of setting them free.”
Q: How much of what we saw was the script you received versus a changed result?
A: Meera Kumbhani: “It was such a big mix of people that came from the stand up world, improv world, TV world, the theater world and that was really cool because it wasn’t one thing. It wasn’t just an improv crowd doing a thing. I think most of it was the script there were very little things that were added here and there. I think usually at the end of end of everything we kind of added things, but for the most part it was all there on the page.”
Q: Where did you shoot it because it clearly wasn’t an apartment? Did you build a big set or small portions of the cardboard set?
A: Bill Watterson: “We probably never had anymore than 2 sets maybe 2 and a half up at one time. The apartment set that we built took up at least 2/3 of our shooting space. We had a sound stage in Glendale and 2/3 of the space was that apartment. We shot the first 7,8 days just doing the beginning of the end of the film where the apartment gets cardboard-ized. Once we were able to take the apartment down we could start building smaller sets. My favorite set of all we called the Kubrick corridor the octagonal space. That existed for maybe 3 hours. It was constructed in time for us to shoot the scene and destroyed within the hour.”
Q: Were you ever scared about coming out of the box with something that was so strange. Did you have the fear of being embraced by the masses? Or was there a freedom with the people that were involved?
A: Bill Watterson: “No, I wasn’t scared of making a weird movie. I knew it was a weird movie. I wanted to make the movie that I wanted to make. I knew I couldn’t direct a film, especially my first film, unless I believed in it passionately and knew it inside and out. Otherwise it would be a fools quest. I may not be a director and I may not have a future as a director, but I can tell this story. There wasn’t fear in that regard. You make a movie and you want people to enjoy it. It wasn’t a selfish endeavor, but it wasn’t necessarily a movie for everyone. I think the people to whom it will speak, it will speak very loudly and that means more to me than reaching the masses.”
Q: I just wanted to know if you had an idea in your head or a drawing of what this labyrinth would look like?
A: Bill Watterson: “There were set pieces that required foresight. It’s a very visual script. Your mind goes to exciting places. I don’t think until I saw John Sumner’s first Production Design Bible (which was a work of art) that’s when it started to get real. This was before we had a single actor attached or financing. It started from such a visual place. It’s baked into the script, of course, all credit to Steve but also from the production designers from Day 1.”
Q: You talked about making the movie that you wanted to make. Were there still creative limitations you ran into?
A: Bill Watterson: “Absolutely. There was stuff in the script we couldn’t do. There was stuff in the script that we built and then on the day it didn’t work or it didn’t make sense. There were moments in the edit that I knew were important to me in the script and on set and I realized I didn’t capture them. Just a misstep on my part. I love seeing it in a beautiful theater like this with a fantastic crowd, by the way. You guys are very vocal and very supportive, thank you for that. I’m very proud of what we do. We were even more ambitious than what’s on screen which is obscene, but I’m happy with what we got.”
Q: You’ve screened the film a few times. Have you noticed a difference in crowds?
A: John Chuldenko: “It’s almost like playing in a band. The audiences are different when you play different nights. I think cities are like that with the film festivals. I don’t know if the audience goes more the other way, but I’m kind of a fan of this crowd.”
John Charles Meyer: “I think he hit the nail on the head with the band’s playing different cities with how it’s totally different. Thank you very much for having us…it’s been a blast.”
Meera Kumbhani: “I feel the same way. I thought it was cool to see you guys warm up to it. It’s a cool experience sitting with an audience and hearing their reactions.”
Bill Watterson: “You guys win.”
There you have it. Atlanta wins.