The first person I met when I hit the TWILIGHT set was one of the producers, Wyck Godfrey. Wyck is a really cool guy, down to earth and extremely into his projects. Some of his producing credits include: BEHIND ENEMEY LINES, I, ROBOT, ALIEN VS PREDATOR, FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, and ERAGON, among others. We got to talking a bit about the bad rap ALIEN VS PREDATOR got and he really knew his back story, which was impressive. When I got a chance to sit with him on the TWILIGHT set, he lets us in on all kinds of stuff in production. From ratings, to action, to special effects, to the soundtrack and more. Read on for to check all that out.
What’s the business proposition for this? What makes this a buyable franchise?
Well the main thing is, anytime you have avid readership like this book series has and not only in terms of sales, but in terms of forbear. You feel kind of blessed to be responsible for bringing it to the screen. When you first buy a book like this, and I actually wasn’t involved in the initial stages, but you usually buy it before you even know it’s going to be a hit. You kind of have to make that gamble that there’s something about the book that connects with you and makes you think ‘Wow this is different. It feels like a different variation on the vampire lore and the werewolf lore.’ Once they started working on it, all of a sudden it became this big phenomenon and it became a very buyable movie prospect. To do these movies well, you need a certain amount of money and to get that kind of money, it has to have a big audience. Summit Entertainment kind of recognized that it was a franchise potential that they wanted to be involved with.
With the release of this, it kind of falls in with, I’m assuming this is PG-13?
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE was released, and it was another very popular book. And then there was SKINWALKERS, which is another kind of teen based horror film. Did the success and/or failure of those two films kind of help or hinder?
It neither helped nor hindered. Because certainly SKINWALKERS and BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE didn’t work as movies. It didn’t connect really to a broad audience. Certainly the sales of TWILIGHT are much greater than BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE were. And the series is more of a phenomenon than that ever was. That was a pretty obscure book before it became a movie. And then the movie I think grossed some sales at that point. It’s also not for the SKINWALKERS audience, in that it’s not as hard edged. It’s not an R. It’s not a ‘horror’ film per say. It’s a love story with supernatural element to it. The perception is, is that the very relatable character in this movie is something that kind of all teenage girls will connect with or have connected to in the book, so you sort of got that… you have more of a concept driven saleable idea and really a soulful character at the center of it who’s lost and looking for connection and finds the kind of epic love that they find in this book series.
This obviously has a huge fanbase, do you think they’ll be happy with the script and the way the movie is going to turn out?
I know they’re happy with the script because the script leaked out. (laughs) Stephenie Meyer, the author, really was ecstatic with the way the script sort of remained truthful to the book and then expanded on some additional ideas, so she’s been a part of the development of it. From my experience, having done movies where the source material didn’t get the perfect translation, and you sort of bare the bump of that with audiences. This is one where I’ve been thankful that all the online stuff, in terms of the casting and the script and stuff and the author has been on board with. So I think we handled it the right way, as opposed to other times when it was handled the wrong way.
How involved were the online community in the decisions as in, were there people saying that if there’s ever a movie of TWILIGHT this should be the person… And were you sort of aware?
Oh man, we had people scowering online all the time getting all of those ideas. And it’s funny, because a lot of times people would see people, but those people were from movies from 5 or 10 years ago. So they weren’t actually the right age of the characters but it’d give you a visual idea in your mind. We’d have a lot of fun with every time we cast a role. Fan sites would pull up every picture of that actor or actress and put the one that they think best represented Bella or Edward or Charlie and so that was kind of fun to experience. For the most part, we’ve had a lot of good response on it, but ultimately you know, you guys know the online world. It’s a forum for everyone to kind of like… And usually when the movie comes out, the response movies make a good movie, not sort of follow all that advanced criticism. There’s no way to know. They don’t know moviemaking, they don’t know how it’s going to end up. And if the movie turns out great, all of those ideas are like ‘No, they were right.’ And if the movie turns out badly we get your ‘guilty as charged.’
In terms of special effects, what can we expect there?
A lot of the work that we’re doing is as practical as possible. We’re trying to make it very real world. That’s one of the appeals of the book, is that it’s this kind of… it’s not a CG extravaganza. Bella meets this guy, realizes he’s a vampire, and says ‘Cool.’ It’s not one of those. So much of the book is about the realism of it and the kind of reality of the world and their placement in the world. So for the most part, all of our action is stunt based. And then we have a lot of wire removal for kind of the way that they move. The on camera work and even in moving impossibly fast. It’s pretty much the stuff of the book, the way that she describes Edward’s strength and his speed and we’ve tried to do that as much as possible on camera while using the effects to kind of paint out things and lines and wires and stuff.
Now you mentioned how it’s not really a ‘horror’ story, it’s more of a love story with supernatural stuff. How much supernatural horror stuff can we expect in it?
Well a lot of the vampire action. A lot of the way in which they move when they need to move fast. A lot of the stuff… there are several sequences that are all about the extraordinary abilities of these vampires. There’s a sequence where he [Edward] grabs her [Bella] and literally takes her through the forest and through the trees and he’s kind of going from tree to tree and for her it’s this extraordinary rush and ride but also fear because you feel like at any moment he’s going to smash into a tree. So there’s that kind of adrenaline. And then you’ve got a sequence where… you know the final sequence of the movie which is, Edward, who has repressed his kind of vampire nature through the entire movie out of fear of potentially endangering Bella, has to embrace it and take down James, who’s the nomadic vampire that’s sort of locked his eyes on her. And in doing so we get to see the kind of full fruition of what these two vampires are capable of on this ballet set, if you know the book it’ll be a cool sort of end of it, so that’s where it really kind of comes to life. And then there’s a scene from the book where he takes her to see his family and they’re playing baseball.
Vampire baseball. (laughs) Which is, I can honestly say will be the greatest vampire baseball film ever made. (laughs) There will never be another vampire baseball film, so a lot of that is a blast. And that’s sort of at the end. The stage of the movie where you’re getting to see the fun of being a vampire and the joy, you’re soon going to get to the part of it why it’s dangerous and horrifying and scary, but for that part it’s just kind of a fun visual of sort of seeing their extraordinary abilities.
These action sequences you’re talking about are they going to be very PG-13 oriented or are they going to push it a little bit?
You know, you always find that in the edit frankly. A lot of this stuff that I’ve see in the dailies is kind of pushed and potentially, how much blood can you get away with? How much bone breakage and all that can you do with or before the MPAA says ‘Eh you went too far.’ Usually that’s a process that you find and generally you do what works for the movie and the audience and if you need to make little trims to sort of pull it out of one rating and into the other, you do it.
If this one, which is most likely going to be a hit, are you planning to continue it with the rest of the books?
We will start writing Book 2 by the summer… so yeah. The goal is, particularly with Kristen and stuff, and then these books happen one after the other, and so hopefully [we] can figure it out from a scheduling standpoint, would be to do Book 2 and 3 together, because it just makes sense from production and the age of the actors and stuff to do it. We’ll be well prepared for it come December.
How many books are there and how far can you go with it? Like the HARRY POTTER films, even though they’re growing up, they’re outstripping their persona a little bit.
Well it’s interesting, they did a smart thing, which is really be prepared to shoot a movie a year and they just went for it. And once you have the first one under your belt, and with a franchise like this, we can do the same thing with the second and the third book. Book 4 is being written now and there’s time for Book 5. So it can go on as long as Stephenie Meyer’s imagination takes it.
Do you have any of the crew? Like Catherine [Hardwicke] or Melissa [Rosenberg], signed on for more past this?
Yeah, no. I mean they’re all kind of ready to go. It’s really about kind of locking down the remaining books and all that. Stephenie will be here soon, Stephenie Meyer. So she’ll be with us and she’s been a part of the production, so ultimately, ideally you keep the team together, particularly in success because why break it up?
What’s Stephenie’s role in this?
You know, just adviser. It’s her world, we’re kind of the couriers and we’re trying to bring it to visual life. So she’s been a part of everything in terms of the script and in terms of all the visual stuff that we’ve done. She came in pre-production, she talked with Catherine. They talked through things, changes were made. So she’s been very involved. I think it’s important because… of course a movie becomes something different from a book in the perfect world, but it needs to hold on to what’s important to the readers of the book while expanding the audience beyond the readership and that’s kind of the goal with making a movie with any book. Is sort of expanding the audience beyond, but first do no harm to the core audience.
Is there any idea of what the soundtrack is going to be like for this?
Oh my gosh. I have…. 40 CDs of music that our music supervisor has sent us in terms of new sounds, new bands, new songs. The muse for Stephenie was Muse, you know, the band. So a lot of the sounds that we’re going for are similar to that, if not some songs by them that they’re going to write. I mean there’s things like that, again trying to hope for the sanctity of the material, but ultimately a lot of those decisions will be made editorially when you start to put the scenes together and see what songs play well. We certainly have talked a lot about having a lot of source music and not the kind of old fashion classical but more of a kind of cool, produced sound for a score. Soundtrack hopefuls. TWILIGHT I think, everyone has their own soundtrack already online. So many people are like ‘My TWILIGHT songlist, My TWILIGHT songlist.’ And it’s interesting how that becomes like ‘Oh, okay I get that.’ And there’s actually a lot of similarities when you see the kind of music and I think a lot of that is because Stephenie had that in her mind and put it into the book.
Are you filming everything in Oregon? Or are there locations up in Washington that are going to be utilized.
Yeah, we’ve used Washington, Oregon. We’ll shoot in Arizona, outside of California for all the Arizona portion. We’re going to shoot at La Push Beach, which is where in the book they go, you know where the Indian reservation is. So we’ll be up there. We’re getting a lot of second stuff, a lot of aerials. But primarily our base of operation has been in or around Portland [, Oregon].
It’s pretty interesting that the film is actually being filmed where it happened in the book.
Yeah. Pacific Northwest. We’re going up to Forks [, Washington], we’re going up to La Push [, Washington]. So we’re getting stuff there. Well thank you guys.
Thank you very much.