To celebrate the Blu-Ray release of the hilarious Sci-Fi Horror Comedy, Snatchers, we here at STARBURST had the pleasure of sitting down with directors Stephen Cedars & Benji Kleiman to talk about the film.
STARBURST: First of all, congratulations on the film. It's super funny, quirky and gory – a bit like Mean Girls meets Alien.
STEPHEN & BENJI: Thank you so much! It definitely did not start off like that [laughs].
This film began its life as a short film back in 2015. Where did the original idea come from for the short film? And as Directors, how was it taking that idea and turning it into a full-length feature – it must feel amazing.
STEPHEN: It was actually very easy as Benji's sister got pregnant with an Alien and [laughs], I joke of course. It's funny, Benji and I along with Scott (the third writer), we had an idea that we wanted to do an alien pregnancy movie and had no idea how to. The original plan was for it to be about a forty-year-old woman on a military base - so it came a very long way. We wrote a different script for the short film which served as proof of concept, and we showed it to our manager who didn't get it at all so we made a proof of concept for our original idea that was Snatchers and we made it and it worked! When we sold it to Warner Brothers, that's when everything started to fall into place.
BENJI: It was interesting turning it into a full-length feature as we had all these drafts but we didn't have a finished idea. We had so many great ideas but we had to find a way to get it all together and after the proof of concept the world was there for us and it made things easy. Getting the horror and comedy as a delicate balance was difficult but when it all clicked into place it was a fantastic feeling. It was super fun to incorporate the short into the finished product as that what we had always planned but we had to alter some of the dialogue to have it make sense [laughs]. It was so rewarding overall.
What was it about Mary and Gabrielle that made them stand out as your two leads when they were originally cast?
STEPHEN: I know that when we made the short we had a casting session and when we saw Gabrielle walk in we knew straight away that we wanted her to play Hayley but we hadn't seen anyone at that moment that stood out as Sara. She had to find a balance between being crass whilst also carrying the emotional weight of the story and then when Mary sent in her audition tape, it was the last thing we saw and we immediately knew that she was the one. Mary had that ability to make the whole thing grounded - it was a very real performance. The two of them worked perfectly together. They felt like old best friends instantly, it was great.
BENJI: The tonal thing, the two of them just got. On top of their natural acting ability, they made things feel so real and helped the consistency of the tone throughout the film.
The film utilizes both practical effects and CGI – how was it working with animatronics and CGI to find that sweet balance?
STEPHEN: When we were first designing the alien, it looked too much like a Pokemon so we had to change it to look more menacing than cute. We shot the movie in two parts, in the first part we had the animatronic with the eyebrows but they didn't move so when we shot the second part we wanted to add that extra level of character so we made him move his eyebrows - you can actually see in the movie when we finished shooting that first part. The animatronic itself was super annoying to fix to the actors head as they had to balance him on their head whilst also keeping their chin to their chest not being able to see where they're going [laughs].
BENJI: That was a crazy challenge and blending it with the CGI was another big challenge - but it all worked out better than we imagined. When you grow up you love watching these behind-the-scenes about practical effects and want to do it for yourself and when you're making it, you have to tell yourself it's going to look better on camera [laughs]. The hard work paid off and we are so happy with the results. It was fun to see the actors act against the real thing - it also helped it frame the shot easier.
What were some of the crazy ideas or scenarios that you had when writing the film that you, unfortunately, didn’t get to do during the production?
BENJI: I know that we had drafts full of cool crazy things including extra gags for the police station scene and the party scene. But due to time and budget and organisation, we didn't get to do everything but we were so happy with the outcome. We wanted to destroy a grand piano but that was going to cost way too much [laughs].
STEPHEN: We also wanted to blow up the house at the end [laughs].
Which was your favourite scene to take from paper to screen?
BENJI: Absolutely the clinic scene as that is what started it all. It was so much fun to make this and see our characters come to life for the first time - such a profound moment in our careers.
STEPHEN: It was the first time we had a crew, too. Another amazing scene was the police station - we had the whole thing storyboarded out before we were like "how are we going to do this on a budget?" - we then went on a location scout and found this amazing building which, from the outside, looked like a police station and it turns out it was scheduled for demolition so we struck gold and were able to go mental inside and blow stuff up and make a huge mess. That made things a lot easier and it was a hell of a lot of fun too!
SNATCHERS is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand.