Irrational Interviews: del Toro edition p.1

Ken Levine interviews Guillermo DelToro? Yes please. I’m going to be doing a summary of this interview by sharing some of the most quotient quotables I manage to record. They will be chronological and paraphrasic. (?)


“Imperfection is a goal we can all aspire to” – del Toro

“Monsters are great liberators and that finding beauty in imperfection is the principle of art” – del Toro

“One of the challenges is that whenever you make a monster… what is important is that you have to relate to them in someway… The monsters that I think are most powerful have some relatable element.” -Levine

“Harryhausen always said that a great creature is one that you can imagine in repose… Because he said ‘look at the lion’, it looks really magestic and beautiful, but when it is on top of you and it’s about to rip your face off it is really scary.”
“We don’t design a monster as a function, we design characters. There is a huge difference between a monster and a character who is a monster… Design should come out of character.” -del Toro

“Life is full of monsters… When you are first encountering sex. Sex has that component of being both something that is very attractive and very scary at the same time. Those are the things that are most interesting, that have that component of both attractiveness and repulsion.”
“We have a lot of quiet times in our demos… If you don’t have the human part the shooting doesn’t matter… If you don’t have that relatable part the teeth doesn’t matter” -Levine

“A lot of people create the monster as an incarnation of a function, rather than a character. And I think this starts expanding into the world… When you create a world as an artist, if you are really sincere about what you are creating and it really affects you personally.., it’s vital for you to create that environment and that story. Then it’s very cohesive on a visceral level.” -del Toro

“I think context is half the story, we all know that all the stories have been told already – in terms of anecdote. Anecdote is the other half of story… You can tell Romeo and Juliet in space, in a plantation… context is half the story. And I think context is the voice of the narrator. It comes from a very intimate place where everything that you are, everything that is essential to you… it comes out, it pours out of you and it comes out in a genuine way… When it comes out people look at it from the surface in, they are outside of the house looking in, and it looks like ‘oh well yea I can kind of copy this, and copy that’… but if it is genuine it comes out with an imprint – that’s it, you cannot copy it.” -del Toro

“I’m always nervous about crawling up my own asshole and getting so into the things that I am particularly interested in that I forget that I have to keep this interesting for an audience, while still retaining those things.” -Levine

“We never know when a movie or game is going to be great or going to be crap. We have to go by the one gps system we have which is our gut… You may be attracted by a subject both as something you find repulsive, intriguing, or seducing. You don’t necessarily have to feel one thing.” -del Toro

“Every movie is always on hold, at least in hollywood – I call it the land of the slow no.” -del Toro

“I always say it’s really hard to fuck without a boner… A movie is a marriage, you cannot simulate a boner, and you are going to go through a long long period of interaction with a movie and it’s going to show where you aren’t interested.” – del Toro

“When you are facing 2, 3, 4, 5 years and your not passionate about it, it’s not like a bank where you can check all the boxes, if you are not passionate about it it’s not going to be good. And it’s going to come across in the book and not only is it going to be a dreadful experience for you to make, it’s going to be a dreadful experience for the audience to watch…” -Levine

“When you are privileged enough to identify those closed roads where you have the chance of selling out or not, and you actually don’t sell out… Then they remain private landmarks, it’s very hard to brag about them – because context is hard to transmit in those personal situations.” -del Toro

“I see myself as a romantic.” -del Toro

“You have to have the presence of mind to say no. I think no is the hardest word to learn as an artist.” -del Toro

“I am a lazy bones and if you don’t have that passion it is tough” -Levine

“The big mistake is forcing a collaboration” -del Toro

“We know who the people are… not everyone is right for every particular projects… We have to choose projects based upon the people who are right for it. If we don’t have the right people to do it… it would be very tough for Irrational to follow that passion.” -Levine

“The game development model is closer to the old studio model, where you have contract players, contract set of gaffers… and you literally have to pipeline stuff in a way, and knowing how to use it is the art in there. -del Toro

“The mistake people make is thinking that they are similar at all in the way you articulated. I think that the set of tools that you have to make a good movie, you would be really stupid to think you are using those to develop a game – or vice versa. They are completely different because the interaction with the receiver, with the audience, is passive in the movies. So you control rhythm, you control [not clear]. If you don’t know the medium, it’s not a medium where you are going to wander if you are just an interested observer. You have to be a gamer and you have to be completely absorbed by the possibility of narrative in the games With their own fucking set of rules.” -del Toro

“Video games are, I have no doubt, the bridge to the future of genre narrative.” -del Toro

“It’s not like film, you are basically putting the gamer in an improvisational scene where there are certain guidelines but you can’t trust the gamer to be a good director or want to go in the direction you want to go, the story you want to tell. You are basically building the structure for improvisation.” -Levine

“Our big challenge… is to constantly be watching what the gamer is doing and trying to interpret that as a partner in improvisation, and make the action make sense and also to hit the narrative beats. I guess the closest thing to it is how Larry David does Curb Your Enthusiasm, he just sort of sets out a general direction, here’s the target, here’s what we want to get, and the actors run with it. They have the advantage of having intelligent human actors who can improvise, and use their brain while we have to make that work programatically.” -Levine

“Most gamers don’t try and break it and if they do there’s not much you can do about it if someone really wants to break it you know they want to sit in front of Elizabeth and shoot her in the butt and jump up and down and be ridiculous… But generally people want to play and they want be a good citizen of the game – they are going to do things you have no way of knowing what they’re going to do. And you still have to not break the narrative, and it’s very very challenging.” -Levine

“Go into it in the same way you have to go into any creative endeavor, with a degree of humility saying: ‘this is going to be hard, this is going to be a challenge’… You have to go into any new creative endeavor, especially one that is so unclear about exactly how it works – like games, with that kind of humility each time. And each time I go into a game I am terrified of how to make it work.” -Levine

“The word humility, the opposite of that is arrogance, which is the coin of trade in the movie business. There is sort of an arrogant attitude that we have found the peak of any narrative form in the history of mankind. Not true, not true. I’m not saying they are not fantastic, films are fantastic. They are one of the peaks of human narrative. Now, I’m sorry to break the news to the movie industry but so is a video game… The video games we will be playing in 2020, there will be fucking masterpieces then. Many masterpieces, and I think the confusion comes from thinking that different mediums are not permeable. Movies can permeate video games , video games can permeate movies in the same way that comics permeate films and films permeate comics but the mistake is thinking that they are similar therefore if I control one discipline I control all three. Big Mistake.” -del Toro


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