Brad Fuller and Andrew Form discuss A Quiet Place, Platinum Dunes, and working with John Krasinski
I was lucky enough to attend the World Premiere of A Quiet Place at SXSW back in March. When going into the premiere, I didn’t have any real expectations for the film, but I walked out being blown away. A Quiet Place follows a very simple concept but works so well because it messes with the audience. The way that the film opens instantly hooks you and doesn’t let go for 95 minutes. This is the type of movie that should be seen in a theater with a crowd because the reaction from those around you will only add to the fun.
I had a chance to speak with Brad Fuller and Andrew Form about the film and we got to talking about what it was like to produce a film like A Quiet Place as well as several other topics including the creation of Platinum Dunes, working with John Krasinski, and why they picked the horror genre to launch their careers.
Brad Fuller: Hi there, I am Brad Fuller.
Scott Menzel: Hi Brad, I’m Scott, how are you?
Brad Fuller: Good, how are you? And this is Andrew Form.
Andrew Form: Hi, how are you?
Scott Menzel: Good Andrew, how you doing?
Andrew Form: I’m excellent, thank you.
Scott Menzel: So, good afternoon gentlemen thank you for talking with me today.
Andrew Form: Hi Scott, we appreciate you taking the time to talk about the movie with us.
Scott Menzel: No problem, I’m very happy to do so. So, I saw the film at the premiere at South By Southwest and that was an incredible experience. Were you two there for that?
Andrew Form: Yes, of course. That was the first time we had ever really seen a movie with an audience.
Scott Menzel: I could not believe that crowd reaction, you guys must have been in heaven.
Andrew Form: It was crazy. As filmmakers, we have never been to a film festival as a participant or a spectator so that was a first for us. We had started our career in Austin with almost the first four movies we made, we shot in Austin. So it was so much fun for us to be at that film festival in Austin, Texas with this movie that we’ve been with for 18 months, and to have it play like that, yeah, we were definitely in shock at the end of the movie.
Brad Fuller: I was moved, I cried a little. I couldn’t believe.
Andrew Form: Yeah, Brad was all in and shed tears.
Scott Menzel: I had the great pleasure of talking to Beck and Woods, the writers on the film, the day after the premiere and they have an interesting backstory as well, and they got to share their stories. Can you guys talk a little bit about your story and how you kind of made a partnership and then went on to find this project?
Andrew Form: You mean as far back as when we started the company?
Scott Menzel: Yeah, I want to go deep.
Andrew Form: Ok, so in 2001, Michael Bay had reached out to me and said, “You know, I direct a movie every year and a half to two years, and I’d love to do more.” And we went out for a drink and he said, “Would you want to work with me and make movies?”
Brad Fuller: Well you have to tell him how you knew him first?
Andrew Form: I’ll get to that. My first job out of college was being Jerry Bruckheimer’s assistant.
Scott Menzel: Wow, that is a great first gig.
Andrew Form: And one of the first movies I worked on was Bad Boys, and I met Michael on that movie, and we became very close friends. I was 22, he was 27, and we became buddies, and I stayed on as an assistant, and he went on to direct The Rock and all his other movies. So in 2001, he had been my friend for all those years when he sat down and said, “Would you be interested in making movies?” And, of, course I was like, “Yeah, where do I sign up?” And he said, “I just need you to do it with my other friend, Brad Fuller,” who I’d never met. And he said, “Just call Brad in the morning and if you guys can get along, maybe we can try this and start this company.”
So, I called Brad and that was 18 years ago, and we’re still going strong, and A Quiet Place is the 18th movie we’ve made. So that’s kind of how the whole thing started, and you can ask any question you want about that, but to jump to A Quiet Place, the hardest thing for us over the last couple years, or even the last 10 years is finding something original. We have made lots of sequels, prequels and remakes, and finding an original piece of material, especially in the genre has been such a challenge for us. We found it in The Purge, and when we read that script it was a very similar feeling as far as a high concept idea when we read A Quiet Place. And luckily, when we were sent the spec script, we jumped on it, and brought it to Paramount. They saw what it could be, took it off the market and bought it. And then the Krasinski train started right after that.
Scott Menzel: That’s an awesome story. I agree with you guys, horror movies nowadays they’re like a dime a dozen. There’s just so many between your studio putting them out and the ones at film festivals plus Blumhouse, who you also work with, Jason puts out at least two or three a year?
It rare that a horror film will wow audiences, but you know from last year that we had Get Out, which became a phenomenon where it lasted all the way from Sundance to the Oscars. And now you have this movie, which I think for everyone in that theater was a totally surprised by. A lot of people on the interview predicted the film was going to be a spinoff to Cloverfield in some way. Beck and Woods got a kick out of it when I brought that up. That was like this fake buzz, and critics and journalists always have to try to create stories and figure out a way to spin it, even though they know nothing.
And then to see that reaction from the movie and see John, who, I think has had an decent career thus far but nothing huge. Jim has sadly never been able to get past the whole Jim Halpert character from The Office. I feel like a lot of people, and honestly, everyone who I talk to kind of feels like that’s who they think of when they seem him but this is finally the movie where I think he’s going to move past that.
Andrew Form: You saw the movie, he did such an unbelievable job rewriting, directing and starring in this movie. Directing is for us, with everything on the movie, he cast the movie, he designed everything, honestly, everything in that movie was him, and he really showed what he is capable of doing.
We just did a press conference in New York, and it’s amazing to hear people talk about this movie. Brad and I laugh about this, because we’ve made lots of movies over the years and we’ve had press conferences and we’ve done the interviews where maybe the movie is not that good, and you can really feel the difference when you’re talking to people if they genuinely like the movie or they don’t. And I know everyone thinks that they can fool you, but we know. Of course, you do, and we know if the movie’s good too. We’re not crazy. Sometimes they don’t work but it is so nice on this one, and from that first call with John when we called him and said, “Would you ever be in a genre film? Like to play the role of the lead?” And when he called us back a couple of weeks later, he’s like, “I’m interested in playing the lead, but I also want to rewrite this and I want to direct it.” And just what he wanted to do with it, he delivered on every level.
Scott Menzel: It really does show like you said. So, Platinum Dunes has been around for about 15 years, right? What is it about the horror genre that makes it so successful and appealing?
Andrew Form: It’s 17 years, and the reason I want to make sure that’s right is because it took 17 years to get a movie this good. I’m sorry, did mean to cut you off
Scott Menzel: No, no, no. Totally fine. Please make sure I get that right, it’s been 17 years which in itself is incredible. As I said, what is it about the horror genre that made you guys want to have a company that pretty much backs that genre? I mean, you did support the two Ninja Turtle movies, but almost everything else was horror based.
Andrew Form: I don’t think that when we started the company that we ever saw ourselves as being purveyors of horror movies. That was not the intention. Actually, when we started the company, what Michael said to us is that Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer had given him an incredible opportunity to direct his first movie, and that it’s incumbent upon us to kind of provide the same thing for first-time directors.
So that was the concept when we started the company, and then when you peel that back one layer, we realized at that time that no one was going to give us the tremendous amount of money to do movies with first time directors, and we kind of surveyed the landscape. And so if you don’t have a lot of money, and we all felt like the people that Michael worked with, we could bring those people to a lower budgeted movie and elevate it. Horror was a place that kind of felt very underserved at the time when we made Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There wasn’t other types of movies that was an incredibly visceral, violent film, and that was the first movie that Drew and I sat on set together and I remember Michael calling every day and just saying, “Make it more violent, make it more visceral.” Which is the total opposite of A Quiet Place, but it started there. And because of the success that we had with that film, Amityville came soon thereafter, and suddenly we were horror guys.
Now, I don’t know that Drew and I necessarily got into the business to make horror movies per se, but we got in the business to produce movies and we enjoyed the people. When you’re making a horror movie, you tend to work with people in the beginning stages of their careers. We worked with a lot of great actors when they started out and we worked with directors at the beginning parts of their careers, and you really have the ability to impact the film in a way that maybe we couldn’t impacted the turtle movies because they’re so big and there’s so many chefs in that kitchen. So, it kind of became a place that we felt very comfortable living in. And I think that that knowledge that we gained from making all those films is what gave us the ability to make this film, because I think that John wanted to make a horror movie, but he had the family stuff nailed, and I think we were helpful to him in creating the intention of the scares, but that was secondary to having a family that everyone can relate to.
Did that answer that question at all?
Scott Menzel: I think so. I think that’s really is what the core difference is between this film and other horror film. There’s a couple things about this movie that make it really special. Millicent Simmonds being in it is without question one of those things because she brings a level of authenticity to the role. After being floored by her in Wonderstruck, putting her in this movie was a terrific choice. I don’t know if you guys had any say in that, but that was just fanfuckingtastic casting all around.
Brad Fuller: That was John.
Andrew Form: John came to us and said, “I know who I want for Regan,” and we got her. She was the only one.
Scott Menzel: Yeah, just terrific.
Andrew Form: This is the only movie that we’ve ever made where there was no casting list. It was just, John said “We’re going to get this person, this person, and this person,” and that’s exactly who he got. He just set off, and when John decides he’s going to do something you just get behind him and help him do it, because he’s not going to stop until he succeeds. And that’s what he did. Millicent was the only one, Noah was the only one and obviously his wife, she was the only one we wanted for that as well. So that was all him.
Scott Menzel: Great. Okay, I have to kind of take a couple steps back, because you mentioned something earlier, and I actually didn’t get to talk to the other two writers about it. So you said that John wanted to rewrite the screenplay. So essentially with Scott Beck and Brian Woods. How much of the movie that’s on screen now is theirs, and how much of it is Johns? Like is it an equal share, is it 75/25, did they work together? I’m just curious about that.
Andrew Form: Well I think that the foundation of the movie was created in the spec script that Beck and Woods wrote. That was the foundation, and there are specific scenes in the movie that they constructed that were always there, like the foundation of it. And then I think that John brought a lot of character stuff and condensed scenes that were longer, but they did not work together. Beck and Woods, they wrote the specs, they did a rewrite, and then John did a couple rewrites after them.
Scott Menzel: Okay, cool. Alright, I was just curious about that. When you guys got the script from Beck and Woods, they told me that the script was unlike any other script that you ever seen, is that true? Do you feel like it was that different? They were saying like, there would be one word on a page, or the text would be really blown up. Was that really case?
Andrew Form: Oh yeah, that was the crazy part about the script. When it was sent to us, it was 67 pages. And I can’t remember off the top of my head, but five of those pages had one word or a number or there was a countdown like three, two, one and that was three pages. So, in a movie where there is no dialogue, when you’re reading it you realize, at 67 or 70 pages, that’s probably close to a 90-100 page script. Because we always wonder like, “Wow I wonder how long this movie times out at?” Usually, it’s a minute a page for a screenplay, but this one wasn’t. But yes, they had and by the way, they had pictures in their script. They had maps and drawings, so it was definitely the first time I’d ever seen a screenplay like that.
Scott Menzel: Yeah, they were explaining it to be and I was pretty fascinated by how they wrote it.
Since my time with the both of you is coming to end, I’m going to have to combine my last question into two. What do you hope that audiences are going to get out of this film, like what do you want them to take away from it? And then lastly, this is such a dumb question, but I have to ask it, because the poster made me laugh so hard. In The First Purge is there going to be any reference to Donald Trump and his administration?
Andrew Form: Okay, I’ll answer the second question first. There is no mention of Donald Trump in that movie. The genius of James DeMonaco is somehow he writes these scripts a year and a half before we make it, and that’s exactly what happens basically when the movie is coming out. It’s crazy, but there is no direct reference to Trump, but certainly, there’s a nod.
Now, going back to the question before, what do we want audiences to come away from this, I think that the prevailing story, and that you have to have faith, and family can provide that for you. And we’re hoping that we made a horror movie about a family that you really care about, and so we want audiences to come away really caring about these characters.
Scott Menzel: I think they will, I think they will. Without spoiling anything that I’ve seen where John and Milli are kind of talking to each other from afar, that scene just really hit me emotionally. I just thought that was such a powerful, incredible scene.
Andrew Form: That’s the scene that got Brad too.
Brad Fuller: That’s the scene that got me at SXSW.
Scott Menzel: Yeah, it’s so powerful. Well guys, thank you so much. Keep up the great work, I’m hoping for A Quiet Place 2, fingers crossed.
Andrew Form: Thank you.
Brad Fuller: Have a great day.
Scott Menzel: Alright, take care.
Brad Fuller: Okay, bye.