“I think there’s a feel­ing on the in­ter­net that I’ve gone wild”

SFX - - Contents -

If you’re go­ing to make a cover ver­sion of a clas­sic record, there’s no point do­ing some­thing too sim­i­lar. You’re al­ways go­ing to be com­pared un­favourably with what’s come be­fore. Mess around with the ar­range­ment, the singing style, do any­thing – just be bold and don’t treat it like it’s sim­ple karaoke. There’s a rea­son why Jimi Hen­drix’s “All Along The Watch­tower”, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” and Madness’s “It Must Be Love” are of­ten con­sid­ered su­pe­rior to the originals. And why Rob­son & Jerome’s “Un­chained Melody” is now re­garded as tor­ture for the ears and in con­tra­ven­tion of the Geneva con­ven­tion.

The same rule should ap­ply to movies: the orig­i­nal Ghost­busters is such a once-in-al­ife­time collision of com­edy, per­fect per­for­mances and block­buster spec­ta­cle that any iden­tikit re­make would be doomed to fail­ure be­fore it had clam­bered into its boiler suit. But radically play around with the for­mula – as Brides­maids, The Heat and Spy di­rec­tor Paul Feig has with his fe­male­fo­cused, Bechdel Test-ace­ing new take on

Ghost­busters – and you might just have a chance of mak­ing some­thing mem­o­rable. For the right rea­sons.

“I thought, ‘They’re go­ing to get some­one to do Ghost­busters even­tu­ally, so if I had to do it, how could I be the most cre­atively fer­tile for it?’” says Feig, talk­ing to SFX on the phone from LA with just a week and half to go un­til the movie’s fin­ished. “Well, what would be re­ally fun is to let all the funny women I work with be in this, be­cause then it sep­a­rates it­self so much from the orig­i­nal movies – it’s just so fraught with peril if you’re go­ing to hire four guys to play these roles, they’re so go­ing to get com­pared to the orig­i­nal guys. But if you get these funny women, it erases that straight com­par­i­son thing – or it did in my head at least! I thought that was the most re­spect­ful way to do it be­cause it’s not step­ping on the originals. I thought, ‘I can re­boot Ghost­busters and make it its own thing for a new gen­er­a­tion. That al­lows me to re­ally es­tab­lish four new char­ac­ters and see them be­come this team.’”

I love this plan I'm ex­cite to be a part of it!

Feig wasn’t al­ways en­am­oured with the idea of fir­ing up the pro­ton packs once more. A fol­low-up to 1989’s Ghost­busters 2 had been bounc­ing in and out of de­vel­op­ment hell for over a quar­ter of a cen­tury when Ivan Reit­man, the orig­i­nal movies’ di­rec­tor and one of the keep­ers of the fran­chise’s spec­tral flame, ini­tially got in touch with Feig. At that point he wanted to dis­cuss giv­ing Feig the reins on a three­quel, a movie that would have seen the orig­i­nal ’Busters hand­ing the keys of Ecto-1 over to a new team.

“I read the script and I thought it was re­ally fun,” Feig re­calls, “but New York and the world had been through this ghost at­tack prob­lem twice in the past and it’d been solved. So now if a new team was go­ing to come to­gether and be given all their weaponry from the old team... it kind of sounded bet­ter on pa­per than it did in re­al­ity. It didn’t feel like it would give a new cast the abil­ity to plant a flag in these char­ac­ters and in the fran­chise.”

Feig had al­ready “turned it down a cou­ple of times” when he got a call from for­mer Sony stu­dio head and Ghost­busters pro­ducer Amy Pas­cal. “She said, ‘Why don’t any of you fuck­ing com­edy film­maker guys want to do this?’” he laughs. “But she also planted in my head the idea that it’s this amaz­ing idea that’s sit­ting there. Ghost­busters was one of these sem­i­nal mo­ments in com­edy that move the art form fur­ther, a huge step for­ward. The idea of a spe­cial ef­fects-laden com­edy hadn’t re­ally been done be­fore. Funny peo­ple fight­ing the para­nor­mal with tech­nol­ogy is such a fun arena that it al­most shouldn’t just be con­tained by only two movies!”

Hav­ing signed up to make a movie based around four fe­male Ghost­busters, and teamed up with his The Heat screen­writer Katie Dip­pold, Feig was back in that dif­fi­cult cover ver­sion ter­ri­tory. Just how much can you play around with the pil­lars of the film and still be mak­ing, in essence, Ghost­busters?

“My very first thought was, ‘Okay, we’re just go­ing to make ev­ery­thing dif­fer­ent. Let’s just com­pletely clean the house, so we don’t step on the orig­i­nal ones,’” Feig ex­plains. “But Katie and I thought, be­ing fans of the orig­i­nal one, what would we be bummed that we didn’t see? Pretty quickly, you think yeah, you want to see an Ecto-1 and you want to see the pro­ton packs and maybe you want to see Slimer. I just don’t want peo­ple who love the orig­i­nal movie to be sit­ting there go­ing, ‘Nah, screw that – they’ve changed ev­ery­thing.’ You want those lit­tle bits of nostal­gia that al­low you to en­joy it, but then we can twist it by go­ing, ‘Okay, here’s where the Ecto-1 came from, and here’s where the logo came from.’ It just felt like the best way to let the au­di­ence have the most fun ex­pe­ri­ence. And my only goal when I make a movie is for an au­di­ence to have fun. That’s all I care about – I want them to laugh.”

Back Off, Man. They're Sci­en­tists

Ar­guably the movie’s big­gest chal­lenge was cre­at­ing a new four­some to ri­val the iconic Venkman, Stantz, Spen­gler and Zed­de­more line-up. First or­der of busi­ness: not try­ing to ape the peo­ple we’d seen be­fore. “I wanted to keep those lit­tle touch­stones like the Ecto-1, but char­ac­ter-wise, it would have been death to just go like, ‘Al­right, who’s go­ing to be the fe­male Venkman?’” Feig laughs.

Al­though Feig would ul­ti­mately use some of his reg­u­lar play­ers in the cast, he and Dip­pold opted to write the script and the char­ac­ters first, with the in­ten­tion of cast­ing later.

“I wanted the story to dom­i­nate, to tell us which way to go,” he ex­plains. “So Katie and I

My only goal when i make a movie is for an au­di­ence to have fun

felt, ‘Let’s just write it.’ We can in­vent four very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, and then once we have it, we can go, ‘Who would be good in these char­ac­ters?’ And once we cast those peo­ple, we will ad­just the script to them. All my com­edy comes from find­ing the right peo­ple, writ­ing to their strengths, and then let­ting them go when they’re on set, and then just kind of guid­ing them, and com­ing up with new jokes. The role is them, ba­si­cally.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, one of the new Bustin’ quar­tet is Melissa McCarthy, Feig’s com­edy muse and a vet­eran of his pre­vi­ous three movies. The other three mem­bers of the team, like Bill Mur­ray and Dan Aykroyd in the orig­i­nal, are vet­er­ans of US com­edy in­sti­tu­tion Satur­day

Night Live: Les­lie Jones, Kate McKin­non and Feig’s

Brides­maids star/writer Kris­ten Wiig. Feig says the new line-up was se­lected over a two-month pe­riod of meet­ings and much deep thought about who’d work well to­gether, un­til “I could call them all up and say, ‘Okay, you’re a Ghost­buster!’

“Their chem­istry on­screen is through the roof,” Feig boasts. “Com­edy is all about light­ning from a bot­tle. That’s the big­gest thing I hope peo­ple re­alise and take away from this movie – or re­alise in or­der to get them to go see it. As great as an idea

Ghost­busters is, that movie wouldn’t have worked at all if it wasn’t for that cast. On top of the story and the world you’re in, they’re just funny. Their chem­istry is funny. The way they por­tray each one of those char­ac­ters is funny, and that is what con­nects you to the movie. That’s the only thing I tried to do with this – it’s all about the cast. Then the con­text they’re in and all the stuff around them, that’s just ic­ing on the cake.”


All of which sounds great, ex­cept not every­body is ex­cited about this Ghost­busters re­boot. In fact, it’s dif­fi­cult to think of any re­cent block­buster that has been sub­jected to such a bar­rage of pre-re­lease abuse on­line. There have been some lib­eral-minded crit­i­cisms of cast­ing the African-Amer­i­can Les­lie Jones as the only non-sci­en­tist Ghost­buster – Feig has since said that the role was orig­i­nally in­tended for McCarthy, while Jones took to Twit­ter to ar­gue, “Why can’t a reg­u­lar per­son be a Ghost­buster? I’m con­fused. And why can’t I be the one who plays them? I am a per­former.”

But far louder has been the vit­riol thrown at the de­ci­sion to make the Ghost­busters fe­male. The first trailer holds the record for the most dis­likes on YouTube, while Feig’s had all sorts of lu­di­crous ac­cu­sa­tions thrown at him, in­clud­ing the as­ser­tion that he’s de­stroyed

Ghost­busters fans’ child­hoods – and worse. Feig has been ad­mirably will­ing to speak out against the trolls, but surely after a while that sort of abuse must start to get to you?

“You’ve just got to put it out of your mind,” he says, tak­ing it all in re­mark­ably good hu­mour. “Look, any­body in com­edy is a peo­ple-pleaser. You don’t go, ‘I don’t care.’ You def­i­nitely read it and you take it to heart. Some­times, it makes you kind of go, ’Oh man, that’s a bum­mer.’ At the same time, it’s good to know what peo­ple are think­ing. I like to hear what peo­ple’s con­cerns are. But you also have to make the movie you’re go­ing to make be­cause the thing with the in­ter­net is, there’s so much in­for­ma­tion that peo­ple get so early that every­body as­sumes they know what you’re do­ing. That’s the only thing that’s kind of a drag.”

If the movie still has some work to do to con­vince less en­light­ened re­gions of the in­ter­net, it does at least have the ap­proval of the orig­i­nal film­mak­ers. Reit­man is a pro­ducer and has, Feig says, been in­volved all the way back to the script de­vel­op­ment process;

Ghost­busters co-cre­ator Dan Aykroyd has helped out with some of the “para­nor­mal speak”, and since we spoke to Feig, said on Face­book that the new movie “has more laughs and more scares than the first two films”; the

wife of the late Harold Ramis has given the movie her bless­ing; and orig­i­nal stars Aykroyd, Ernie Hud­son, Sigour­ney Weaver, An­nie Potts and even the no­to­ri­ously hard-to-pin-down Bill Mur­ray all filmed cameo roles.

So, as Feig points out, it’s not like he’s mak­ing a guerilla, off-the-grid Ghost­busters movie to wind peo­ple up. “I think there’s a feel­ing on the in­ter­net that I’ve gone wild,” he laughs. “I don’t know what was in those Sony hacks! When you’re com­ing onto a project, any film­maker wants to make sure they’re not go­ing to be mi­cro­man­aged by the pow­ers that be, but Dan and Ivan have given me my free­dom. Ever since I came on, it’s been noth­ing but a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.” And no­body ever said that about Rob­son & Jerome’s “Un­chained Melody”…

Paul Feig on set: seems ev­ery­one’s au­di­tion­ing for Bond these days.

Thor’s Chris Hemsworth joins the team as sec­re­tary Kevin.

What­ever you do, don’t cross the streams.

The Ecto-1: one of the clas­sic touches Feig was de­ter­mined to in­clude.

We’re think­ing hang­ing that paint­ing up there was a bad idea.

All fe­male; all funny.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.