From Portal: No Escape to a thriller starring John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg shares his experience working with J.J. Abrams on the film.
10 Cloverfield Lane, a thriller starring John Goodman, was the successful launch of Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial career. The pseudo-sequel to Cloverfield retains little of the stylistic choices of the original, most notably ditching the found-footage format. Jeff Goldsmith, the producer of The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, invited Dan to sit down after the screening in our main theater to talk about what it took to make 10 Cloverfield Lanea reality.
What was your initial background before pursuing a career in filmmaking?
“I started out going to school at Temple University, and my brother is an editor, which influenced my career direction. Over the years I took on as many projects as I could to gain experience and a sense of who I am as a filmmaker.”
Feature films are a relatively new venture for you, and you have worked on more short-form material. What are some projects that you have worked on?
“I started out doing a lot of commercials. I was always particularly inspired by Ridley Scott’s body of work as I entered the business.”
You have had tremendous success creating YouTube videos, and one of them in particular stands out. How did ‘Portal: No Escape,’ resonate with fans of the video game series?’
“Portal: No Escape came out before Half-Life 2. Valve even invited me to their campus, and I was able to meet with their higher-ups. Luckily, they were thrilled with my work, and said they were planning on doing a live-action trailer for Portal 2.”
How did ‘Portal: No Escape,’ change your life?
“I signed with ICM Partners shortly after shooting Portal: No Escape. The short that I created helped create many new opportunities for me.”
You mentioned Ridley Scott earlier. Who are some of your other film influences?
“I was a huge Twilight Zone fan growing up.”
What was it like in preproduction for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ in the writing room?
“Damien Chazelle wrote one of my favorite movies of 2014 with Whiplash. He wrote an amazing script for 10 Cloverfield Lane”
Are there any tips or tricks that you use when preparing to pitch a film?
“I create look-reels to show how I envision a film feeling.”
Did you storyboard the film?
“I only used storyboards for the final take of the movie.”
How logn was the production schedule for ’10 Cloverfield Lane’?
“We shot the movie in 36 days.”
Sound plays a huge role in the film. The cell door in particular makes a distinct sound.
“That is J.J. Abrams. He has such a great ear for sound. Everyone I know mentions the sound of the door.”
Want to hear more? Check out Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, to hear the Q&A in its entirety.