The Opening Night presenation of the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival was the wonderfully creative, Dave Made a Maze. Before the screening, Shakefire had the opportunity to speak with director Bill Watterson and actress Meera Rohit Kumbhani about what it was like to create and film inside this world made from cardboard.
Shakefire (SF): How much cardboard did you guys go through?
Bill Watterson (BW): 30,000 square feet, all of which was either donated, repurposed, or taken out a dumpster.
SF: So what was it like filming in that kind of environment? Did you have to kinda tiptoe around because of how fragile the set was?
BW: We coughed a lot; I remember coughing a lot. There was a lot of dust in the air. The shooting space and the building space unfortunately were the same space. Everything they would have this beautiful, intimate, emotional moment and I would yell, “Cut” and then bzzzzzzz and all this dust comes into the air. “Okay, quiet down. We’re going to have another beautiful, intimate moment here folks.” So it was cramped; it was hectic. But every once in awhile when I see some behind-the-scenes footage just wandering through the actual soundstage I think, “That’s actually really cool.” It was just these beautiful pieces even when they’re not lit by the amazing team. They’re just standalone beautiful pieces, one after another.
Meera Rohit Kumbhani (MRK): They’re like sculptures and they’re so detailed. You just walk around and you can’t take it all in. There are just so many more details that you keep on noticing. It was really kinda amazing.
SF: What went into designing all these pieces?
BW: It was a combination of a lot of things. There were some drawings ahead of time. We had a look book. We had a design bible. So a lot of things we very deliberate on that front. Then there was a lot of “Well this is what we have. What can we make out of it?” Kinda like that scene in Apollo 13 where they’re like, “This is what’s in the thing. You need to use these pieces to save them.” For example, one of the press photos is in an octagonal corridor. It’s Meera and Nick [Thune]. It’s these beautiful holes of shafts of light shooting through. We call it the Kubrick corridor. We just got pallets of cardboard with these perfect circles in them. We were like, “Oh dang they got circles in them. We can’t do anything with these.” On the other hand...that was a matter of taking what was donated to us and how we can make something out of this. So that octagonal space corridor wasn’t in the script, wasn’t in the design bible. That just came out of a pile of stuff in the build space. We just said well this could be this and then within days it was.
Dave Made a Maze does not have a finite release date but is scheduled for sometime in 2017.