Fifteen years later, the name most closely associated with the ground-breaking 2008 kaiju film Cloverfield — and the odd little patchwork collection of pseudo-sequels it’s acquired over the years — is pretty much definitely that of producer JJ Abrams . After all, Abrams was already a big name when the film unleashed its surprisingly powerful viral marketing spurt in the summer of 2007, having already found huge success with Felicity and then Lost in particular — while his longtime collaborator, Matt Reeves, was the actual director of the film still more than a decade away from becoming anything of a household name with films like the Planet of the Apes revivals and then especially last year’s The Batman.
Still, it’s Reeves who has most consistently championed Cloverfield over the years, waving the flag for his unlikely early blockbuster as the film’s various anniversaries have come and gone. Take, for example, a new interview with Syfy this week, in which he discussed the film’s breakneck production speed and finally finally confirmed the various clues the film (and its sophisticated marketing apparatus) dropped about the movie’s monster.
Addressing the first point first: It turns out that Cloverfield really was as fast-paced and impromptu a project as you might expect: Reeves reveals that Abrams hired him to start filming before writer Drew Goddard even did was about to finish the screenplay. as they embarked on an ambitious 12-week filming schedule with a director who had never worked on anything of this magnitude before:
I said to JJ, “Well, why don’t I wait for Drew to finish the script?” And he was like, “Well, you can’t.” And I said, “Why?” And he said, ‘Cause we’re shooting in 12 weeks, and that’s what happens.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I had never done a VFX film, I had never done a genre thing like that – a giant monster movie.
The story goes on
Reeves describes the filming of certain key scenes – including the part where Lizzy Caplan explodes – and notes that they had few takes to capture the gory aftermath. It also confirms, hopefully to everyone’s ultimate satisfaction, what exactly is going on with the movie’s monster.
You have to figure out how to direct the monster, so to speak. So you have to understand what’s going on with them emotionally. And for me, the big secret was that the monster was a baby and had separation anxiety. The reason the monster freaked out was because they were having seizures from looking for their mother. And so, [the monster] was just as frightened as the main characters because it seems like there is nothing more terrifying than the human element fighting this giant monster element, and really both of them are just scared. This is a mess. This is not good. So that part of it was absolutely something we talked about developing the creature and how I shot it.
It’s foreign. In fact, at the end of the movie you can see the moment when it comes down to it [Earth]. It’s one of those little Easter egg moments again, but if we look back at the footage of where they end up on the Ferris wheel, you can see the meteor fly down and hit the ocean. This is actually the beginning of the baby on earth.
Cloverfield turns 15 today. A new 4K Ultra HD edition of the film will be released to celebrate the anniversary.
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