Drew Goddard

June 25th, 2012 Film, Personalities, thevine.com.au

A fixture in writing some of the most influential TV shos in geekdom, Drew Goddard finally takes the megaphone for his directing debut Cabin in the Woods. He tells Drew Turney all about it.

Drew Goddard has been the man of the moment for the last few years in Hollywood, and as a go-to wordsmith for both Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams, it was only a matter of time before he broke out with his own project.

That film is Cabin in the Woods, a horror film with a twist. Not a spoiler kind of twist, but an entirely new look at the horror genre that takes every cliché you can think of and them skewers them.

As the title suggests, the film deals with an atypical group of horny teens relaxing and partying at a remote lakeside cabin straight out of Evil Dead or Friday the Thirteenth. You just know something terrible is going to happen to them, and not because the setting makes it so obvious. It’s actually one of dozens of sites the world over run and manipulated by collar-and-tie wearing office workers whose job is to make sure groups of people die horribly, under very horror movie-esque circumstances.

It’s kind of a Grand Unified Theory of Drew Goddard, who cut his teeth writing for cult TV shows Angel, Buffy, Alias and Lost and whose star as a screenwriter rocketed in 2008 after the smash hit found footage monster movie Cloverfield.

He’s soon returning to the movie that made his name with a Cloverfield sequel, but next up is what must be every writer’s dream project – scripting for Steven Spielberg on the sci-fi novel adaptation Robopocalypse.

But before he lights the world on fire (literally) for Spielberg, Goddard went small and personal with Cabin in the Woods, a film he knew he wanted to direct so it was just the way he intended. He only realised later that the process began much earlier. “It’s the secret to directing I figured after the fact,” he says “that if you make it personal and you write what you believe in, it makes directing a whole lot of fun. I hope I remember this lesson moving forward.”

Cabin in the Woods is also a pretty subversive film. It’s a fairly obvious parable for filmmaking and literature as these unseen controllers put their characters through hell (in this case, hillbilly zombies) for the pleasure of even more powerful and unseen gods (the audience?)

“I just know what I like, I suppose,” Goddard says when asked if he deliberately sets out to be a cinematic dissident. “I don’t know that we ever set out to be subversive. It’s more that I just don’t want to tell the same old story. I want to try and tell different stories and make it personal, the rest just happens organically.”

They also say TV is a great training ground for Hollywood because while airy fairy film artistes swan around finding the essence of the characters in indulgent rehearsal periods, in TV land you’re lucky to get any prep and any more than a single take to meet the crushing deadlines.

Goddard found his experience also helped approach a film project where the buck would stop with him in every sense. “All the TV episodes that I’ve worked on are the perfect training ground for this because as a TV producer you do a lot of the things a movie director does. So I was very comfortable talking to actors and managing a set, looking at budgets and everything else.

“But there’s an element of directing that you never really understand it until you do it, and that’s having to communicate your vision to hundreds of people so they can go and execute it. That’s challenging, and it certainly took me a little while to get my sea legs.”

For awhile it looked like we’d never get to see the result of Goddard’s training, with Cabin in the Woods set up and ready to go at studio MGM right before they went bankrupt in the carnage of the GFC. Luckily Lionsgate – a studio with a very good track record marketing horror films – stepped in to offer Goddard and his producer Joss Whedon a deal.

Local distributor Roadshow has announced a limited theatrical release throughout June, but like all horror films, it’s perfect for a beer and pizza video night with a bunch of friends. As you laugh at the corny horror movie cliches, Goddard will be right there, pillorying them with you.


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