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Guillermo del Toro gave up his salary to get The Shape of Water made

It takes quite a lot of money to make a movie, but not everyone is willing to sacrifice their pay cheque at the end of the day, but that's what Guillermo del Toro knew he would have to do if he ever hoped to get THE SHAPE WITH WATER made the way he wanted. After Universal Pictures marketed his last film, CRIMSON PEAK, as a horror movie instead of the gothic romance it really was, Guillermo del Toro told Variety that he had learned a valuable lesson.

"I understood ‘The Shape of Water’ needed to cost under $20 million, because that allows them to market it for what it is," del Toro said. In order to help hit their budget, del Toro pledged his entire salary, except for taxes and guild dues, to the production. The director also paid for much of the pre-production out of his own pocket, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the development of the creature as well as set designs. Guillermo del Toro did much the same thing on PAN'S LABYRINTH, another passion project which took years to develop.

The only real money I made on ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ was when I sold the apartment I had bought in Madrid. Although [the studio] returned my salary just before the Oscar ceremony. The way I see money at 52, my kids are adults basically, I dress like s—, I drive a four-year-old car, I have all the rubber monsters that I need. You don’t make these movies to buy a ranch in Santa Fe; you make these movies to tell a story. It’s not that I came out flat on this movie; I invested. And I invested in a story that I think of as an antidote to the times we’re living in. Everything is so sordid and horrible right now, but this movie is not shy about talking about love and beauty and the good things in life.

Guillermo del Toro had long wanted to do a film about an "amphibian-man romance with a human," but was never able to successfully crack the concept until a meeting with Daniel Kraus, his co-author on the "Trollhunters" books. After hearing about an idea which Kraus had involving a janitor befriending an amphibian creature in a cylinder which reads "Found in the Amazon," del Toro said, "Say no more. I am buying that idea. That's my next movie!" Set in 1962 during the Cold War, THE SHAPE OF WATER finds the lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) trapped in a life of silence and isolation, but when she discovers an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) in a water tank in a government laboratory, her life is changed forever.

Although the film is definitely inspired by monster movies, Guillermo del Toro wanted to create a movie where it's the creature who gets the girl, describing it as "a fairy tale that is sort of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but where the beast never turns into the prince."

As a kid, watching ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘Creature’ or ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ I was always rooting for the monster. So I always wanted to see that movie. If we had made a normal movie, in the scene where the beast carries the beauty in his arms, the hero would be … the square-jawed, beautifully tailored white-man savior [Strickland, the menacing government agent, played by Michael Shannon]. Here, it’s the fact that we see him from another point of view that makes him the villain. For me, stories are interesting if you change the point of view.

THE SHAPE OF WATER had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival today and has been receiving rave reviews, but the majority of us will have to wait until December 8, 2017 to see it.

Source: Variety

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