Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are no strangers to horror and slasher films. They’re responsible for the Ouija films, as well as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville Horror reboots. But when A Quiet Place came their way, it was a whole new level. An original horror film quite unlike anything ever seen before. With Michael Bay as their mentor and responsible for their production company coming together, A Quiet Place was destined to be different. There was a script with hardly any dialogue. How were they going to pull it off?
With John Krasinski on board, roadmapping the film and the importance of family, things became more clear. The producers would test screen the film along the way, but once the visual effects were added in, a profound effect took place and suddenly everything made sense.
A Quiet Place is a rare movie going experience — a film where dialogue is limited and fear is played through sound, or strict lack of it. It’s a movie with long stretches of complete silence. Read my chat with the producers below to see how all the pieces came together to give us the most unexpected phenomenon of 2018.
Talk about how you both met?
Brad: I grew up in Los Angeles and went to Hebrew School with Michael Bay. We knew each other but he denies that, but we did. We did end up going to the same college together so that’s undeniable. He couldn’t deny that I was sitting next to him in college.
Our families had known each other. His grandmother and my grandmother knew each other. Michael was well known to me. After college, he very quickly became a video and commercial director. I was working my way up in Hollywood. As his career kept getting better and better, we stayed close friends. He mentioned he wanted to start a production company around the time of Pearl Harbor. I thought it was great, but then he never brought it up again for another six months.
One day, Drew called me and said, “I had dinner with Michael Bay last night and if we get along, we should start a production company with him.” I thought it was an incredible opportunity, we sat down one day and looked at each other and said it was an arranged marriage and here we are nineteen years later. It was the genius of Michael Bay who recognized our strengths and weaknesses to put us together.
Drew was actually Jerry Bruckheimer’s assistant for a really long time. He met Michael on the set of Bad Boys, but he and I had never met until that day when I went to his office.
So you’re involved with your projects and you come across A Quiet Place. What was it about it that stood out for you both?
Brad: We are always looking for original concepts. We were always doing horror stories, but they were remakes, sequels or prequels, so to find an original concept is a very hard thing to identify. So, when we read this script, I think we both looked at each other. If we could pull it off, it would be a game changer. The only problem is that there are only three pages of dialogue.
We had never done a movie that had that little dialogue. In many of our films, by the third act, everyone had been killed off. so, there’s usually one character running from a bad guy. We’re familiar with what it is to not have a lot of dialogue, but we’d never had anything like this. We knew we needed the right filmmaker to execute it. We knew conceptually it was the strongest thing we’d read in a horror film.
What were the discussions around sound and how to approach them?
Brad: I don’t think Drew and I had any of those answers. Our responses were more technical and who we could surround our director with. It was really John that gave us the road map and provided us with a number of key elements that were a must for the film, not the least being that we hire a deaf actress to play that role. That was one of his first things. Not because it was the PC thing to do, but John felt he could learn a lot from her and he could see what it was like and he could make that make experience one that anyone in the audience could understand what it would feel like to be deaf. A lot of that came from his interactions with Milli and the conversations he had.
I could tell you I don’t think we had the full road map to get there were it not for John. He really identified so much with what it was. For him, it was about family and what parents will do to protect their children.
Once the road map was laid out and you’re seeing the finished product, discuss test screening the film.
Andrew: We did one very very small preview and you usually do that with an audience that has not read your screenplay. A lot of filmmakers do friends and family, but we like to do strangers to get a true reaction from the audience.
Not unlike a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, it’s very hard to screen without visual effects. We learned that the hard way. I know it’s out now that John played the creature, but if you’re at a screening of the film and you’re at the basement screen. You see Emily and Milli at one end with the shotgun up, when we shot the reverse with John, it could take the audience out of the movie. We knew that was going to be challenging.
The biggest challenge was being able to tell the story without the effects. What we learned in that process. What rang true at our first screening of SXSW when we had a finished product to show. The key scene in the movie was when Regan is in the cornfield and she bends down. Out of nowhere, the creature comes. She grabs her ear.
That scene without a creature plays out with the actress on the ground, she grabs her ear and you have no idea why. There’s nothing behind her. The minute you put that creature in and you see her ear open up. The creature is what makes her ear hurt and she is affecting that creature suddenly the audience understands everything. When we screened that, you heard everyone gasp. You felt it in the room and it was something we never had because the effects were not in.
I think so many people were just not sure what to expect and when they go to genre movies they go with popcorn, but I swear that every screening I went to, no one moved.
I think we could not have anticipated that. We knew the film was quiet, but when you have 1500 people in a screening and you realize no one is reaching for their popcorn or wanting to move in their seats. People don’t want to move and flinch if someone moved 14 rows away. That was unbelievable to be a part of.
There are three parts where we turn the sound off. We don’t know if it’s ever been done before.
In every movie we’ve made, there’s always something in the background, but when Regan turns her implant off, it’s over. That whole process has been unbelievable and rewarding because it’s such a challenge to find a piece of material you love, get it made, find a filmmaker and get it released. It’s just been amazing.