Cloverfield Designer Tells io9 About the Movie's "Stark Realism"

How do you design an effects-heavy disaster movie to look good through a handheld digital camera? We talked to Martin Whist, the production designer of Cloverfield, the monster movie which comes out Jan. 18. Also, we have a hotly debated possible model of the movie's monster, from creature designer Peter Konig. Click through for the full image, and Whist's thoughts on making Cloverfield look cool.

Cloverfield Designer Tells io9 About the Movie's "Stark Realism"S

Whist was pretty cagey about discussing any specifics of Cloverfield, but he did talk a bit about his creative process for the film:

How was this different from working on movies you've done before, like the Tenacious D movie or Lemony Snicket?

The goal was, in a strange way, realism, and obviously the stage and set for the environment it all takes place in [are meant to be as realistic as possible.] There's little information as to why things are happening. It's kind of a fusion of fantasy and realism, with the goal to be as real as possible, as it's all told in the first person.

Judging from the trailer, it's a very bleak look and a very muddy palette. Did you try to add anything extra to the designs to make it more scary?

There's nothing outside out of the box that I wanted to do. The story takes care of itself. It's not stylized in that way. It's a completely different format of film-making.

I read that a big chunk of the movie is actually filmed in high-def, but then they make it look like the handheld camera.

That's true, definitely, because a handheld camera, like a regular consumer grade camera, doesn't have the amount of information necessary to project for one thing, and also to add the visual effects.

When you were designing Cloverfield, were you worried about invoking memories of 9/11?

Because of the realism of the whole project, obviously the comparisons are going to be made.