Director’s Notes #9: Jim Henson meets THE EVIL DEAD

Last week at a meeting with a production company/sales agent here in Los Angeles, Jim and I asked if this particular company actually “got it” in terms of what we were trying to do with THE MILLENNIUM BUG. We had too many meetings with various companies that just did not see what we saw, did not embrace what we had embraced, did not really care about our aesthetic or philosophy. Of course we all want the movie do well, of course we want audiences to see it on cable and iTunes and blu-ray. But come on, man! At least pretend you care that we were trying to do something unique, something that Hollywood just doesn’t do any more, namely GIANT MONSTER MOVIES FEATURING MINIATURES AND MEN IN SUITS! The companies that we passed on seemed to just want to treat it like a product, like a 10 pound bag of potatoes, like disposable diapers. Hey, we know the Bug is not freaking WAR AND PEACE. But we are proud of it, and we think its a damn fun movie, warts and all.

Writer/Director Kenneth Cran makes adjustments to the Bug puppet.

Anyway, one of the executive dudes on the other side of the table (there’s always a long conference table where these meetings take place) said something like, “Yeah, we totally get it. It’s Jim Henson meets THE EVIL DEAD!” Holy (insert expletive here… mine was a word beginning with “F”, but it wasn’t “fulcrum”)! The father of all modern notions of puppetry meets Sam Raimi’s first blood-fest! I couldn’t have said it better. He reminded me of what I saw after the finished Millennium Bug monster suit sat posed before me. It reminded me of THE DARK CRYSTAL. It reminded me of a really ferocious Muppet. I went home that night and thought, “I’ve designed a giant man-eating, toothy Muppet!” I was pleased.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In NO WAY am I saying our work was/is better than the work of the masterful Jim Henson. I’m just saying without Henson and THE DARK CRYSTAL, LABYRINTH, THE STORYTELLER series, etc., our Bug may never have been made. All modern puppet effects, from the Carpenter’s Thing to Winston’s raptors and t-rex, owe a nod to Jim Henson. So, a special thanks to that one executive for reminding me of the Bug’s (sublime) genesis, and for reminding all of us that Jim Henson did it without pixels.

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