Thank you very much for taking the time. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love Godzilla, so talking to people who had some influence on it is very meaningful to me.
Black: He’s very difficult to work with.
I can only imagine. Therefore, when it comes to working with Apple and bringing Godzilla to television, what we have here is a big, long series, not a movie. How difficult was it for you guys in the development process, knowing that I guess you were going to be a little limited in terms of the monster action you were able to provide? You couldn’t just have 10 episodes full of monster battles. Was creating all this a bit of a challenge for you?
Fraction: I think working with Apple and Legendary and Toho, our ambition was to tell a story for television. We cannot compete with these films. These are huge, epic spectacles, but they are the movies we buy tickets for. We go out with friends to watch in crowds on big screens, which is a kind of collective community experience. Television is something you invite into your home and spend time with for weeks. That’s why we wanted to make a spectacle of it. We didn’t want to make a scaled-down version of it. We didn’t want to make it a “monster of the week”. We didn’t want it to be a bad version of those movies. We wanted it to be a good version – as good as we could – of a show that takes place in this world. It starts with human characters and the idea that we could start our Godzilla series in a world where everyone knows Godzilla is real. What now? This is an amazing starting point for storytelling.
Chris had a surprisingly great concept for a guy with two families, and it all came to light after this global disaster. It’s simply an intriguing story of siblings trying to unravel the mystery of who their father was. However we cut it in the room, giant monsters keep getting in the way.
Black: You talk about the challenges of the development process, which are legendary in Hollywood, but I think for us the only real challenge that Legendary and Apple gave us was that it had to be great. This must be great. The bar is set so high. People can’t look at it and think, “Oh, it’s a cheap TV version of those movies.” It has to impress everyone, both in terms of storytelling and filming.
Matt Shakman, how difficult was it for you as a director to approach this topic? “I have to make it look cinematic, the way people expect this material to look, but for TV.” Was it a challenge for you?
Shakman: No, I mean, I think that’s what these gentlemen here said, which is that they built this beautiful multi-generational family drama, mystery and puzzle set in a monster universe. So by definition it’s human-centric and it still has an incredible scale and scope, but you can see it from the ground level. So instead of being in heaven when Kong is fighting Godzilla, which is awesome and wonderful and I want to see that too, we want to be on earth and realize what an impact this kind of fighting has on people on earth.
It’s just as exciting, if not more and more emotional, to be down there and feel your world change by the introduction of these unfathomable forces and these creatures. This show is not like that dramatic scene, stage of a performance, dramatic scene. They are intertwined because the way these monsters affect these people, changes them, influences the course of their lives, connects them, tears them apart, and it’s all part of the dramatic engine of the show. It’s television doing what television does best.
Black: But one thing I want to say about Matt is that I don’t want him to understate or underestimate what he brought to it visually. His filmmaker’s eye. His episode looks like a feature film for television. It’s truly spectacular. He was absolutely relentless and meticulous, making sure every moment was sold on screen the way it was meant to be sold.
Fraction: I think for that purpose, because you have so many layers of people and real worlds and real locations that we shot in, it makes these monsters that much more real to me, right? Because you see them through human eyes, you see them through layers of humanity and things that you know are real, and I think it makes them feel even more real than when you’re up there in the stratosphere.