With Marvel’s Werewolf by Night arriving on Disney+ October 7th, I recently got to speak with Michael Giacchino about directing his first MCU project. During the brief but informative interview, he talked about why he wanted to helm Werewolf by Nighthow shooting in black and white allowed him to include more blood and guts, why they included cigarette burns (they’re the marks that appear every 20 minutes or so in the upper right corner of the frame to help with real changes), why they built practical sets, and more.
Werewolf by Night is about a secret cabal of monster hunters that meet up at the Bloodstone Temple following the death of their leader. The purpose of the meeting is to decide who will be their new leader and the one who will take possession of a powerful relic. Inspired by horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, Werewolf by Night explores a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Leonardo Nam, Kirk R. Thatcherduck Eugenie Bondurant.
Watch what Michael Giacchino had to say in the player above, or you can read our conversation below.
COLLIDER: I want to start with a sincere congratulations. This thing turned out great.
MICHAEL GIACCHINO: Oh, thanks.
I think that the first thing people are going to ask after they watch it is, when are you directing again? So, I’m going to say it. When are you directing again?
GIACCHINO: Hopefully sooner than later. That’s the goal. I loved every second of it. You had a blast. I loved it. I’ve said before, but it’s a movie truly that I’ve been wanting to make since I was 10 years old. I’ve been making movies since I was like nine with my dad’s camera and it never stopped. Even throughout my career composing, I was always making movies on the side, mainly just for me for fun because I love it. So, I do hope to continue. I do hope to do something else, but to be able to just bring these characters to life, what better gift? Especially characters that I loved as a kid. I have a lot of mine Werewolf By Night comics still from when I was a kid. So, I think a lot of people when they hear that, they’re like, “Wait, what is Werewolf By Night?” But for me, it was just like, “What do you mean what is Werewolf By Night? You missed one of the best comic runs ever.” So, yeah. I love it.
I think a lot of people are going to revisit or learn about it through this, but I loved that you put in cigarette burns in the movie and maybe that’s going to appeal to five of us, but I love it.
GIACCHINO: Yes, exactly. Yes.
So, was that always the intention of doing the cigarette burns? Can you talk about why you wanted to do it?
GIACCHINO: As we were editing and stuff, my editor Jeff and I are such nerds for this kind of thing, and we were just like, “Oh, we got to put in those things too. We got to put in the real changes. ” Because we always approached this as something that was being done in the 30s. What would they have done and what would they have had at their disposal? How would they have done it? So, we did as many practical effects as we could. We built actual sets for everything. Those are all real sets, everything you see in there, and our visual effects supervisor, Joe Farrell, did an incredible job of just taking care of everything else that we needed. But there weren’t blue screens and green screens and there weren’t sticks with tennis balls saying, “Hey, that’s a monster. Look at that.”
There was none of that. We had the monster on set. We had all of this stuff there for reference, and even if we enhanced it later to some degree, it was still on set for us. That was important. I wanted the actors to feel like they were in a true environment as opposed to having not only the work of creating these characters for us to experience on film, but then they would have to also imagine what was around them. I didn’t want any of that. I just wanted them to be there with everything so all they had to do was just be the character.
You got away with a lot more blood and guts than I expected. I was very surprised. Do you think that happened because you were shooting it in black and white?
GIACCHINO: I think that helped us. It certainly didn’t hurt us. I think that doing something like this, we were able to push a little further into that direction than we might have if he had done it any other way. I think people will still be surprised when they see it. The people who are just turning it on and seeing, but hey, that’s part of the fun of it. I felt like as long as it didn’t become sadistic … that was our thing. Because I’m very squeamish generally. I don’t like slasher movies for that reason. So, I didn’t want it to ever get into that realm where it’s just indiscriminate killing. Everything needed to have a reason and a why and a how and all of that. So, I do think that being in black and white helped us with a lot of that, keeping it in that realm.
On that note, I already got to stop. I’m just going to say congratulations and I know people are going to love it.
GIACCHINO: Thank you so much. Thank you. I’m so happy. We’ll talk more.
For sure. Have a great day.
GIACCHINO: All right. Talk to you soon.
Werewolves By Night starts streaming on Disney+ October 7th.