Director Dave Green, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, and several others gives us some insight and behind the scene stories from their time creating and developing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
Last week, The Knockturnal had the chance to sit in on two press conferences for the newest film in the TMNT franchise, Out of the Shadows. For the second one, director Dave Green, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, and turtles Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Pete Ploszek (Leonardo), and Jeremy Howard (Donatello) go on to talk about the creation of a sequel, bringing Casey Jones into the mix, the evolution of the turtles, and much more.
Q: Andrew and Brad, at what point did you realize, we got a bit of a franchise here, we’re gonna make a sequel, we’re gonna go for it?
AF: You know, opening weekend of movie one is when Paramount made the announcement that they wanted the sequel, and we were all together on Friday night. And they were watching the grosses come in, and Rob Moore, who runs the studio kinda looked at everybody and said, “I think we’re gonna make another one of these.” And for us, I mean, three years in development on the first movie, and hanging with these turtles who, you know, there’s three of them right there, there’s nothing better. So, we felt so fortunate, and then we reached right out to these two guys who really helped us on the first movie and wrote, and said, “I think we get to do this again.” And, here we are talking about Out of the Shadows. It’s pretty amazing.
Q: For Andre and Josh, you know, we got some epic turtles characters that we introduce here, Bebop, Rocksteady, Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman. Who was the most exciting for you guys to bring in to the universe?
JA: You know, I was a huge Casey Jones fan as a kid, and so to be able to, as soon as these guys were like, “Yup, we’re doing Casey in this one.” I was like, so fired up.
AN: Same. To be honest though, I, the Bebop and Rocksteady thing was very exciting, because to be able to dip into the humor and really capture those guys, I think it really also tonally helps with the movie a lot.
Q: Dave, you’re a young dude. You know, how, you know, in terms of your age and your, sort of your filmography, how did this major franchise kind of land on your lap?
DG: I sat down with Andrew and Brad, and I just expressed my, you know, huge love for these characters growing up as a kid. I was a huge Turtles fan. I watched the cartoon every day after school with my friends. And, you know, I, every friend group I think has a goofball. And like, you know, I was Donatello, my buddy was Mikey, and they were characters that were close to my heart, and I kind of expressed my huge fandom to the guys.
Q: For each of the turtles, what did you sort of bring that’s new to these characters in the sequel, in terms of the evolution of them? And what were you most excited about? Where like, “Yeah, I didn’t get to do this on the first film. This is kinda cool.”
PP: I’m the oldest. I think with Leo what I, what was really fun to explore was seeing where his breaking point is. You know, Leo’s always been the leader, the, you know, the do-gooder, the one who’s by the book. And I think because of that a bit of a almost silent sufferer where he won’t show weakness. He won’t show emotion like these other guys can. But everyone sort of has a breaking point, and it was sort of exploring how, what does it take to push Leo to that edge where he’s gonna speak his mind, and he’s gonna tell these guys how he feels? And, yeah, really sort of that balancing act was fun to come up against.
JH: Thank you. I think these guys, as they grow older, especially in this film, you see it’s that the individuality really starts to come out. And as the team, it’s a question of can we keep this team together, these guys together with all the unique traits that they have, and work as a team? And, I think that’s the challenge that your character has, kind of deciding what can I do to bring these guys together to kind of save the planet? And, I’m so tired right now I forgot what was happening.
NF: I think for this movie in particular, I was really excited because the turtles have a really specific arch that you get to see, and it explores that family dynamic that makes the turtles kind of that timeless. You know what I mean? That’s why everyone likes the turtles. And for Mikey specifically, I really liked the idea that he’s sort of the youngest out of everyone. He’s very much the youngest feeling. And so the idea that he might get to be accepted in the rest of society, and not have to necessarily be a turtle anymore is like a really strong pull for him. So I think that was, that was what I really wanted to kind of see what that was like, get back in that teenage, I wanna be like everybody else kind of mode.
Q: How do you telegraph possible things to come, things in the threequel without giving away too much? And then the flip side of that is, all the homages like Vanilla Ice on the juke box, and the moorage 84 license place. How much of that homage do you choose to keep in without sort of making it too cutesy?
BF: Well, do you think we accomplished that? I’m curious. I mean, because here’s the thing, because you don’t know until the movie’s done really. I mean, the four of us, you know, sitting here, we are all real fans, you know, and we wanted, if we were gonna see a turtle movie, we put the things in that we thought we would wanna see there that we’re recognizing, that the audience knows these things, and we know these things, and that’s kind of the relationship between the filmmakers and the audience. So, I’m glad that you think that that worked. We, I think that out of the three of us, I would probably always go more and they would pull me back, but that’s why we’re a great team I guess.
AN: But I think part of the fun is for the fans, you get to see a couple of like little Easter eggs dropped here and there. And I think for the general audience that is just coming to the turtles, they become the Easter eggs for those guys. So, like the license plate for example, a new audience member isn’t really gonna pick up on what that is. But now it becomes something for them to recognize as we move forward.
Q: We just heard from Stephen Amell saying, you know, he’s, this is his first feature film, he’s got a terrible schedule with Arrow. He doesn’t have any time. Can you talk about casting him?
AF: Well, we always wanted Stephen for Casey Jones, and this is where sometimes luck has to really favor you, because our Turtle schedule, when we, when they said they wanted Turtles Two, we were gonna go right on basically the same schedule as Turtles One. So we kinda knew we were gonna start in April, and finish in July. Guy started developing the script, and we wanted into pre-production in late fall. And it just turned out that Amell’s Arrow schedule, he literally wrapped and a week later, or three days later he was in New York shooting with us. And when we wrapped the movie, he went right back to Arrow, which is one of those things that was perfect. ‘Cause two or three weeks either way on a swing, you’re dead, there’s no Stephen Amell in the movie. So we got very, very lucky that our first choice, the schedule worked.
Q: What do you think the appeal is that whether you’re a six-year-old girl, or you’re a diehard fan from the beginning, what are the appeal of the turtles?
DG: I think when you’re growing up and you’re either six years old or nine years old, or if you’re a parent who’s, you know, maybe around my age, you know, in their 30’s or so, I think it’s easy to connect to those characters because everyone at one point or another has been, you know, a teenager and, or has been close to being a teenager. And, those characters are just very easy to connect with, and they have teenager logic. You know, they’re not always sharp. They’re not always, or a lack of logic, you know? They’re not always logical, and they improvise, and they are a family, and they are brothers. And these guys were amazing at bringing that to life.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadow is directed by David Green, written by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, and stars Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry, Brittany Ishibashi, Gary Anthony Williams, Stephen Farrelly, and Laura Linney. TMNT: Out of the Shadows will be in theaters June 3, 2016.