It's been years since we've heard news about David Fincher's adaptation of Eric Powell's paranormal comic The Goon. But now the director, Powell, and the team over at Blur Studio have gone rogue in hopes of making The Goon a reality. Together they've started a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of making one massive story reel that will hopefully sell the idea of a PG-13 animated movie (which is not an easy task).
io9 spoke with Blur Studio directors Tim Miller and Jeff Fowler (who created the sensational title sequence for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) to find out what they intend to do with your money. Plus, check Goon concept art and Fincher's Kickstarter video.
Set in a post apocalyptic world overrun with "slackjaws" (zombies), hobo cannibals, evil robots, and a giant squid, The Goon follows a pair of misfits as they beat down evil zombie priests and their undead hordes. It's exactly the sort of smart paranormal storytelling that Hollywood should be making today. We've had our full of French-kissing werewolves. It's time to let the massive Goon and his giant thwapping wrench take center stage.
So this is where Kickstarter comes in. If successful, the money will fund a storyboard version of the whole film, with voices and scratch track audio. This is just a template for the final film, which will cost considerably more (so the funds for this project are strictly for the storyboard reel). But let's let Miller and Fowler explain what you can expect.
I think the last time we saw new footage from The Goon was at Comic-Con 2010, why keep coming back to this project?
Tim Miller: I wouldn't say we're coming back to it, because we never left. It's just the business in Hollywood. It takes so long to make the rounds in meetings. We took it out and took it around, and that took a long time. We got "no" from all the major studios, so we went back and reworked the budget. Then we started to go out again, but we were kind of waiting for David to get done with his latest film to attend some more meetings. And while we were waiting for that, Eric [Powell] really got a bee in his bonnet to do a Kickstarter thing. So we're doing that too.
Are you going to keep the same voice actors, Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti?
Tim Miller: Yes, they're both very excited. I called them both before we put them in the Kickstarter agreement and asked them if they were willing to do this again. Paul and Clancy both said, "We'll go anywhere, we'll talk to anybody you need us to. Anything you want, we'll do it."
Jeff Fowler: Actually, Paul Giamatti donated those new lines. There's four shots of new animation in the video [above]. Paul was in New York and he was happy to donate the time to give us those lines, just so we could have something that's new.
Tim Miller: They're both on board to voice the storyboard reel as well.
What makes The Goon stand out over all the other zombie stuff that's out right now?
Jeff Fowler: The thing that's so great about the comic was that it really wasn't just about zombies. It was kind of the melting pot of everything that's kind of crazy and cool. You've got giant robots, you've got vampires, you've got creatures, demon priests. It's a great sort of amalgamation of all that stuff. It's really not just zombies.
Tim Miller: This might sound kind of trite — that to me is all the window dressing. What's really great is the relationship between these two guys. And I love The Goon backstory, and in our film too you really get a sense of this guy who you think has strayed morally. And his compass is askew. But he's not. He's a good guy with a heart of gold. In his own way, which is not very understandable, he's a good guy and he's trying to protect people.
What were some of the most ridiculous notes you got from studios while pitching this?
Jeff Fowler: I don't think it was really a question of getting notes. On some level, [it was] the reaction to the process and a PG-13 animated film. It wasn't so much about content, it was about the idea of it.
Tim Miller: Here's preview of how these meetings work — we go in, we show them all the material. Everybody goes, "Oh my God, this is amazing. This is really beautiful, I love this project, this is great. What's the rating? What's the budget?" [And we respond,] "Well it's PG-13, and it's got some edgy stuff in it." And they go "Oooh, okay." And the budget was 50 [million] and now it's a little lower. And finally they say, "All right, this is great, let me talk to my people and we'll get back to you." And then, that's it. If you're lucky, you hear a few weeks later that they decided to pass. What happens with this tricky material is everybody loves it in the room. Then they go and talk to their marketing people, and their marketing people pull information on other PG-13 films that are out there, and see how well they performed. And when you look at it that way, you get stuff like Beowulf and Final Fantasy. So marketing says, "Nah, this is not going to do well." They don't look at it for what it truly is. They just look at it for what other things like it have done. And I don't mean like it in similarities, I just mean "PG-13 and animated." It never gets its fair shake.
How similar will the final product be to the film test that you guys put out?
Jeff Fowler: We definitely made every effort to make it very representative of it. Obviously we were limited in terms of scope. That's why the majority of it takes place in George's pub. Environments cost money. So we were getting a lot of mileage out of a very simple scene that really hit on the rapport between Goon and Franky. These guys are drinking buddies in this outrageous world. But the thing that's so great about it is that the characters' approach to the world populated by the undead is so mundane. I think that in itself is what's so great about Eric's take on all this.
Tim Miller: Broader scope, there will be more characters and more environments [in the movie]. And even technically among us, like Jeff said, we tried to make it look close to the final project, but it's been two years since we did that and quite honestly we're better than we were two years ago. And technology is better. If we did the film today, we'd be able to raise the bar. Although I think it looks good now. But we'd make it look even better.
So let's say the Kickstarter campaign is successful, what's next?
Tim Miller: A story reel for the whole film, and if we got a little more money we could make an animatic that had a little more scope to it. The goal is, you go to the studio and say, "Here's what the project is," and they judge it on a few factors that aren't really representative of what the film is. If we can show them something that represents the entire film, they can hear the jokes, they can see the situations, they can really understand the world in two hours. We're hoping that will make a difference for them. They go through so many projects they don't really have the time to dig in and find the true worth. Hopefully we can show them that in the story reel.
To top it off, we've got a collection of production stills and a bit of amazing concept art of the world outside of the bar as a little tease of what's to come (click on the below images to expand). If this Kickstarter campaign gets off the ground, that is.
And it should — not only is that green slackjaw face gorgeous, the material itself is hilarious (and sometimes a little touching). These are the shambling monsters we want Hollywood to make, so go. Give. Or at least tell your friends to give. We love The Goon, and we desperately want to see this film on the big screen. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page.