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Brad Silberling on Land of the Lost

Published June 2, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
Land of the Lost Poster Land of the Lost
The new Land of the Lost updates the original show’s puppet and animated effects with high tech CGI. Director Brad Silberling has done his share of visual effects in Casper and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, but Land of the Lost presented new challenges.

Brad Silberling Remakes Land of the Lost


“Honestly, the most daunting part of it was dealing with the Sleestak,” Silberling said. “That’s not even a joke because they’re so damn slow. I brought it on myself. I really wanted them to be suit performers. I didn’t want to just have them be CG beings. They were like Nascar cars. They had to pull in for pit stops. I mean, they’re blind, poor guys. They’re effectively blind. They’re on platform shoes, already they’re tall. It’s like wearing a wet suit indoors. They had to be hydrated. So, there were like two people for every Sleestak. imagine you’ve got a big set and you’re trying to keep a camera set-up going and then suddenly between takes this army of people come in pulling the eyes out, feeding it, and I had great sympathy to a point and then I was just like, “Oh my God!” That was the only daunting part, honestly. The rest of it, oddly enough, was really what got me excited. to me, the idea of really committing to this sort of adventure stakes with this absurd behavior in the middle of it was really fun to do and maybe more my sense of humor anyway.”

Land of the Lost becomes a Will Ferrell comedy with Ferrell playing Rick Marshall, Danny McBride as Will and Anna Friel as Holly. “The thing that Will and I talked about at the beginning, it’s funny, because I love tonal mixes and even this is not just our friend Judd [Apatow] going off and just making it. It’s an odd tonal mix. I mean, the films I’ve done in the past, I did a very small, intimate film that was a comedic drama, 10 Items or Less. Comedy is always built in somewhere but it’s never usually just sort of overt broad comedy. I would say, for the most part, domestic broad comedies have just not been of interest to me. They’re not cinematic enough. That’s why this is probably the closest you’ll see me get to that.”



Silberling was actually Ferrell’s idea. “Will brought me in. Will and I sat down to have lunch ostensibly to talk about something totally different. We had been friendly for years but had never worked together and he started asking me if I’d be interested in doing Land of the Lost and I read the script, their first draft, and there were great things in it, some of which survive. Then, there were a lot of areas that didn’t quite work successfully so I kind of came back at Will and the studio as well and just said, ‘I think if I were to make the movie, here’s what it would need to be and here’s what it can be.’ So they all said, ‘Let’s go.’”

Much of Ferrell’s comedy comes from letting takes run as the comedians improvise. With millions of dollars in post production work, Silberling had to adapt to give the gang room to joke around.

“What’s interesting is if you plan properly, the best spent money is giving the actors the room. I think the interesting thing about a film like this is the trap is when it gets incredibly formal and the special effects and you guys have to fit into this corner of the frame and I have enough experience with effects that I know the tricks and so actually it allows me to give them greater freedom. It’s also why we built sets the scope that we built because I didn’t want those guys to be afraid to bounce off of something. I look at actors doing 100% blue screen or green screen work and they always look constipated because they’re afraid to embarrass themselves. They don’t know where to look. They don’t really know what’s going to be there. So, they’re safer not really reacting. It’s just one of those things where you can see it. You can see it. I think if anything you try to protect the time to do that, and improvisation doesn’t take long unless you’re aimless and unless you don’t have a goal. The great thing with Will is he comes from such a good improv background with The Groundlings so there’s always an intention and McBride is a writer, a really nice screenwriter, and so too, there’s always a path and a stated goal to the improvs. It’s not just wanking around. So yeah, you protect that time.”

Land of the Lost opens to theaters on July 5th.

For the trailers, poster, stills and more movie info, go to the Land of the Lost Movie Page.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures
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