We had so much to talk about with filmmaker Adam Green regarding his new movie, Digging Up The Marrow, that we had to break it up into two parts. Here we are, once again, discussing this unique new film with Green.
In Part 1 of the interview, Green discussed where the inspirations for Digging Up The Marrow (review here) came from and some of the challenges he faced with the project. Now we discuss Green’s co-star, Ray Wise, and dig deeper into The Marrow.
Green talked more about the uniqueness of the film. “It’s definitely a type of movie a major studio never would have made,” Green said. “It’s another one for us… anyone who goes to conventions and loves monsters and collects action figures and horror and all that stuff. I feel that this movie speaks for all of us who believe.”
Digging Up The Marrow comes off as a project that was very easy to put together, but indeed, that naturalness and ease did not come easy. “As much as it might seem like it’s all impromptu, and that’s one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten – people think it was improv – the script was very, very specific; and what you see in the finished movie is about 99 percent scripted,” Green said. “It was always designed to start off very, very real and very fun and very grounded so as it progresses and gets weirder and weirder and the arc of the story starts to get darker and scarier, hopefully you go along with the ride, and by the time you hit the ending, your suspension of disbelief is so shattered that you’re really affected by it. We didn’t know, when we started making it, if it was going to work. To be totally honest, there were points where we didn’t know if we were going to finish it. It started in 2010, and while making this movie we made Hatchet 2, Hatchet 3, and Chillerama and two seasons of “Holliston.” That’s just to give people an idea of how long and involved this process actually was to make something that seems simple.”
And, although it doesn’t look like it, there were many more people than just Adam, Will Barratt, and Ray Wise in those woods. A full crew worked incredibly hard to make Marrow seem so nonchalant. “It was definitely a challenge for us,” Green said. “Almost like when we started doing “Holliston” and had to relearn how to do things. For “Holliston” to work, it had to look and feel like a sitcom. So a lot of times we would find ourselves just wanting to get this cool shot or have the camera move, and you don’t do that on sitcoms. You have wide shots, medium shots, and close-ups. So that took a while to get used to.”
“With this, we’re so used to being on camera and doing the behind-the-scenes type stuff, it kinda just felt like that. I felt like we were making a behind-the-scenes of something else we were making. But, of course, so much work goes into making things look like they’re not lit. An interviewer earlier said, ‘It must have been very liberating to just go out in the woods with nothing but a camera.’ And I was like, ‘Actually, if we did that, you wouldn’t see anything. Physics don’t add up.’ Like when you’re watching a Friday the 13th movie and Camp Crystal Lake is lit up with blue moonlight. Go outside sometime in the middle of the night and tell me what you see. It’s black. So we had huge HMIs and we have all these cables running everywhere and there’s a crew to make this work. So, for some things, it wasn’t all that much different.”
Perhaps the greatest addition to the cast was veteran actor Ray Wise, who knocked it out of the park in Digging Up The Marrow. “We struggled with the thought of should we cast an unknown as Dekker or do we cast someone who’s recognizable enough that people will say, ‘Oh, I know that guy,’ but not so recognizable that they bring baggage from their personal life into anything,” Green said. “Our biggest fear was that because we were going the direction of reality, too many people were going to think this was real and then, when the first monster showed up, they would go, ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t real.’ Then it would be all about that. It would be, ‘They didn’t fool me. That hoax didn’t work.’ But it’s a movie, we’re not trying to hoax anybody, and that’s why we decided to cast Ray, which was the best decision we ever could have made.”
Green explained why Ray was so perfect. “Ray brings this gravitas to everything he does, and I was just so glad to give him a leading role in a movie,” Green said, “because it never happens. He’s always a supporting actor and he’s always terrific and he’s always the one that people walk away saying how great he was. But he doesn’t get enough leading roles like this. So I hope a lot of filmmakers end up seeing this and whether they like the movie or not, they realize this guy should be hired in a lot more leading roles. When we were screening the first cut of the movie for other producers and directors to get some feedback on where we could tighten, what we could lose, one producer had said, ‘The biggest mistake was casting Ray.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Well, because as soon as he showed up, I knew this wasn’t real.’ And I said, ‘So, ten minutes later when a monster showed up, you were going to think it was real?”
Part of the strength of the film is that it’s a monster movie but filmed in a style that really reaches out to the audience. “Whether you’re a fan or not, even if you’ve never seen any of my other stuff, there’s something real there to connect to, and to do that with something so fantastical as a monster movie is not necessarily easy to do,” Green said. “If we’d gone the route of the fake filmmaker, which we did think of a bunch and we even toyed with the idea that there was an intern who worked here and I didn’t want to deal with this and they took it and ran with it just so that we didn’t have to be in it, but we’d only be doing that just to avoid the inevitable comments, ‘This movie is self-serving’ or ‘This is an advertisement for their other stuff.’ Then somebody said, I think Alex, ‘But if it’s not that, it’s going to be something else. You’re never going to please that person. So why do you care?'” Well said.
And whatever you do, do not refer to Digging Up The Marrow as a “found footage” movie in Green’s presence. It really torques him out! “It does frustrate us when people describe it as, ‘This new found footage movie.'” Green said. “It’s like, ‘Dude, by definition, found footage is footage that was found. And it hasn’t been touched, supposedly. And it hasn’t been edited and there is no score. There’s no sound designer. So why are you calling it found footage?’ But it’s just become a term where anything that’s not the typical narrative feature film is now called ‘found footage.'”
Green gave a few more details about the movie. “It is indicative of real life that I’m constantly juggling multiple things and it is sometimes frustrating for the people who are only working on one or two of those projects where they would really appreciate it if they could only have my full attention on that one,” Green said. “But really, it was all designed and part of the narrative in the terms of what would happen if this was real. And that was part of the joy of being in this movie – to live through it and really make believe and pretend it was real. Like during those nighttime shoots where we were out there by The Marrow and Ray was in character whether the cameras were on him or not. I really believe, and I thought I saw some things the cameras didn’t catch.”
Finally, Green gives one more cool detail you’re sure to love about Digging Up The Marrow: “That’s another cool thing about this movie,” Green said. “Upon repeat viewings, people might see something that they missed or think they see something that isn’t there. There’s this one moment that whenever we screen it theatrically, half the audience sees something and half the audience doesn’t know what everyone else is freaking out about. It’s really fun to watch that.”