Ghostbusters, which seems to have appeared out of nothing, has been the most prized Star Wars franchise. The original Ghostbusters was a quirky sci-fi comedy created by Dan Aykroyd. Now it is a second rail of genre cinemamaking. Between the years Ghostbusters 2And the Paul Feig reboot for 2016 Ghostbusters Answer the CallNumerous attempts have been made to revive this universe. All that waiting may be why there is no answer. Answer the call and this month’s Ghostbusters: AfterlifeIt seems so complicated. The audience expects something from these films, but it’s a little bit mysterious as to exactly what. Too much nostalgia. Too much nostalgia. Irreverence. In 1984, the original movie was an instant hit. It might not be easy to replicate that film in franchise filmmaking.
Jason Reitman (son of Ivan the original Ghostbusters Director) took up the challenge of rebooting and maintaining the Ghostbusters mythology despite all the obstacles. Afterlife. Reitman spoke with me the day after the film’s first screening at New York Comic-Con. Reitman seemed upbeat at that time, and he was soaking in the success of that exhibition. But now, the film faces wider audiences who might be more skeptical of the path he’s chosen. As we talked, we also discussed his reasons for choosing that path and how his Ghostbusters kids came together. We also spoke about his views on Bill Murray’s direction.
[Ed. note: This conversation has been edited for clarity.]
Let me ask, first, what was it like yesterday for you to finally share it with fans. Is that the emotion and reaction that people get?
Jason Reitman: Amazing. I mean, look, we’ve been waiting to show this movie for awhile. It feels like this secret that we’ve been holding on to and like, it’s like Christmas Day. Christmas Day has been pushed forward by one year. Yeah. And I’m just waiting for that audience to open up the present. Comic Con was my first experience. This was 10 years before I went to Comic Con. Jennifer’s BodyI was there to support Ghostbusters as well as my dad. It was great to have the opportunity to meet and greet all of them. Gil Kennan was my writer partner. It was great to be there with them and see their enjoyment of the movie, hear them scream and witness my father’s tears. I don’t know how to explain it like it.
The only screening I’ve ever had, like this was when Juno Originally screened in Toronto 10 years back. And even still, it didn’t have that familial thing of watching my father watch this film. It was amazing.
There’s a serious amount of catharsis to this movie. People around me seemed to be gripping their arms at the very end of the movie as I was viewing it. It was almost as if they were trying to hold it in. So I can only imagine what it was like for Harold’s family and Harold’s kids to see this. Was their reaction to the film and seeing their father played in it?
I don’t want to speak too much for them. They love the film. This film moved them. My father was the first to read the script. The next people who read the script were Harold’s wife, Erica, his children, his daughter, Violet, who I grew up knowing on set myself. And they’ve been a part of this film from day one. You read the script, you went to shoot, and then it was time to do the editing. It was very important for me. I wasn’t gonna make this film unless they were okay with it. From everything I can tell, they’re very proud of it. And beyond that, I think I’d rather they speak for themselves.
In a way, this is a break for you. It’s a blockbuster. You’ve done a lot of smaller movies before. But it’s still a movie about family drama, secrets, how you communicate across generations. It’s so normal and relatable that audiences see this kind of problem. Then, they see the film end with the catharsis.
This is the big thing: No matter how long humans have been around, we’re still figuring out a way to talk to each other. And we’re particularly still trying to figure out a way to talk to each other as family.nAnd each generation kind of leaves the next one with this kind of equation to solve. The story of a single mother discovering her identity and her kids was something I wanted to share. Then, through this discovery came their relationship to Ghostbusters. This is my story about being a Ghostbuster’s child. And it’s kind of no shocker that the Ghostbusters movie I would write is that of a girl learning she’s the granddaughter of a Ghostbuster.
Was there any trepidation as you’re going through this process? You might feel heavier? You might even feel that your father is going to judge you. That’s because I believe every child has to go through it. They are trying to judge me? But now you’re doing this very publicly with a film.
Please tell me more. I’ve experienced this relationship since my father looked over my homework. Since then, I was able to tell my dad my first screenplays. When I wrote my first pages of dialogue, he made a decision early to approach me like a professional screenwriter. This was not easy. This made me an instant better writer. We were able to use this language to discuss life in an entirely new way.
Talking with my father almost everyday is a common occurrence. Our conversations almost always revolve around movies. The movies are the mainstay of our connection with the outside world. And the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done is pick up my father’s franchise and attempt to make a film in it. I sat with him the entire time. God only knows how much I wanted him to be proud. And I was there last night to see the crowd cheer him on at Comic Con. Then he wept. I felt like a son.
Talk to me about the development of this, because it’s been through so many iterations. And I’m sure you saw many of the false starts that your father went through to make a continuation of the first film. All the things that they tried to do that they just couldn’t get off the ground. When you’re taking on this job, and you say, I’m going to do this, I’m going to try and make this work, at what point did you decide it’s going to be kids? It could have been teens, or adults. You chose these particular ages and those particular characters. How did that decision come about?
Jason Reitman: Right. They must have found me, and that is what I believe. I don’t even know what it sounds like. I was struck by this picture of a 12 year old girl holding a proton-pack. I’m not sure if that’s because I had a daughter, but I just saw her with a proton pack. She was originally in a cornfield. When the corn began to pop up, she smiled and ate it. It was that simple.
Another was a teenage boy who discovered Ecto One at a barn, and started drifting in the wheat field almost like a snowboarder. I didn’t know who they were. I eventually learned that they were Spenglers. This was the beginning of my journey into the story.
I believe storytelling is an instinctual skill. You’re pursuing something you don’t even know why. And I didn’t know why I needed to tell the story and then I was already telling it.
There’s something very elemental about kids in this franchise. People my age grew up playing with toys. It’s very tactile, all the gadgets and things. It’s just right. It feels right. And I feel the same way about these kids as I did when I first discovered them. Ghostbusters. It was a great process to find these four children, who embody many aspects why children love each other. Ghostbusters?
That’s a great question. You’re right. This movie is a direct result of a father-son movie on Ghostbusters. The movie is about everyone who wanted to become Ghostbusters as a child. So we had to look for four teenagers who could bring that desire to grab a proton and get behind the wheel on Ecto One. And McKenna Grace is someone who’s wanted to pick a proton back basically, since she was born. There’s photos of her in the flight suit going back to her being an infant. She’s always loved Ghostbusters. She began to weep when she put on the proton pack. We knew that we had finally found our girl.
Finn Wolfhard, a Ghostbusters long-time fan, is Finn Wolfhard. As you can see, we were able to get a preview of how it would be like to have Finn in a flightsuit. Stranger Things. And Logan Kim and Celeste O’Connor, two people that I didn’t know prior to this process, were both Ghostbusters fans but also just great actors. Their talent was evident. Celeste can be described as a kind of subtle, intimate actor. Logan is a cast member. Saturday Night LiveIn 1975. I mean, he’s just this kind of rare talent with so much confidence and they had this wonderful chemistry together.
Let’s talk about the return of the original cast because, I think a lot of people are going to be so thrilled when they get to that part of the movie and to see Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson come back in the costumes. What was it like to direct them specifically because you’ve got the new cast and everybody and then you have the cast of your father’s movies. And when you’re directing them, maybe they’re like, Venkman speaks like Venkman to me..
Jason Reitman: Again, great question. It was like directing Ghostbusters. The moment the original guys showed up, I felt like I was a kid on again on this set of my dad’s Ghostbusters movie. And there’s only so much you can tell Bill Murray how to be Venkman. He knows what he’s gonna do. He knows what he’s gonna say. You just have to ensure that the cameras are on.
Were there any pieces of wisdom that you could use or have they passed on to the next cast members? How about taking on this role and moving this story along?
Jason Reitman: They approach the problem from different angles. Right? You know that Ghostbusters was actually created by Dan Aykroyd. And his relationship with the mythology and his knowledge base — old sci-fi and ghost stories — makes it so that you just kind of want to write down everything he says because he speaks in Ghostbusters dialogue. Ernie represents for me the heart and soul of this. You can immediately hear the connective tissue that made Ghostbusters friends the first time he spoke.
Bill’s sense of humor. Ghostbusters’ ethos is reflected in Bill’s ability to find irony even when faced with difficult situations. We all seemed to be able to pick up that energy, and figure out how much we could toggle between these different identities.
Last question, and this is one I’m sure you can’t answer. Is Vigo coming back? In the sequel, it’s gotta be the painting.
A deep love for you is what I am. Ghostbusters 2. I, naturally, am in Ghostbusters 2 which is probably why I don’t watch it as much as the original. Vigo the Carpathian is my favorite character. He will resurface at a time and place I don’t know.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife It is now available in cinemas
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