“I’m a filmmaking geek,” he says. “I wanted to operate the Steadicam. I wanted to do the boom mic. I tried focus-pulling, even pushing the dolly. It helps you think about it before you ask somebody for something because you have a slight understanding of what it is they have to do.”
But it wasn’t all geeking out on set for Giacchino. “Doing this stuff is exhausting, and it’s hard. You’re doing long hours. Sometimes we were out filming till six in the morning. It’s a marathon, something you almost need to train for in order to survive because there aren’t a lot of breaks. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
The nature of the beast is key to the project itself. Fans were surprised by the classic genre vibes in the trailer, but Disney isn’t exactly known for its horror output, so Giacchino looked to the less explicit films that creeped him out when he was younger, like King Kong, The Wolf Man, and Poltergeist, for inspiration when creating Werewolf By Night for a more family-orientated audience.
“I feel like the world has gone into this thing where all the scary stuff has gotten too sadistic,” he says. “And we’ve lost the heart of it as well. It was important to me that this has a real heart to it, that it’s not just blood and guts, that it actually has a real moral center.”
Giacchino hopes that this potentially one-off Werewolf By Night tale will entertain us (“Kevin and I would always say, ‘It’s a fun horror movie!’”), but it’s clear that the subject matter resonates deeply with him. “The hunters [in the movie] believe that monsters should just be eliminated, almost like stepping on an ant. They don’t want to connect with them or understand them. There are people like that in our own lovely world who think it’s all about them and what they believe, and everyone else can go stuff it.”
He thinks this attitude has become much more prevalent in recent years but that monster movies can put those struggling with all-too-human problems in the spotlight. “People that have afflictions, any number of true human issues that any one of us could have, whether it be mental illness, whether it be alcoholism, whether it be depression. Anything that makes you feel alienated or less than – that’s what monsters represent. They’re constantly struggling to be seen, to be heard, to be accepted. Let’s look into their souls and see what it’s really like to walk in their shoes.”