“He really used anything he could find…” ~ ANNIE
We wanted to play in the sandbox of old-school practical effects – puppetry, stop motion animation, cut paper animation, and optical illusions – to reignite that tactile sense of wonder from the movies of my childhood. When you watch a Harryhausen film, or a Henson creation, the creatures are hypnotic and magical because they’re real; they have real texture, depth, weight, and life. We built a team of artists whose hands would be apparent throughout the process; we wanted to see the pencil lines, the excess glue, the imperfection of a creative mind at work. That had to be baked into the production design for the world to seem real and relevant.
“You don’t have to fail if you never finish anything.” ~ HARRY
The second we wrote that line, we knew we were fucked. Now we had to actually make the movie, or we’d utterly betray ourselves. Once we put our finger on Dave’s fatal flaw, his inability to complete the projects he starts, and recognized it as our own – how many unfinished screenplays, unedited shorts, band names with no band, did we have between us? – we had a personal mandate to see this project through.
The Maze is ultimately a metaphor for the creative process, an outward manifestation of the inner workings of Dave’s mind. I was floored by the number of creators who came to this project saying “I have to make this; this is about me.” They all had stories about ideas or dreams they hadn’t brought to the finish line, and worried (or worse, knew) they never would. We all have unfinished projects gathering dust, and the only thing preventing their completion is ourselves. What at first glance is an utterly bizarre and very specific film actually addresses something much more universal: the fear of failure, the ongoing internal struggle to make.
“I know it’s dangerous and unstable, but that’s because it’s incomplete!”~ DAVE
The Maze is unsafe because we are a threat to ourselves, and the ones we love, when we are mired in a frustrated, creatively constipated state. The self-doubt, the lashing out, the introversion, the depression – these are the booby traps of a creative spirit…which naturally become swinging axes, spike beds, and anthropomorphized buzz saws in our film.
“Why do you always have to make it so hard?!?” ~ ANNIE
It often felt like the characters were yelling at me, questioning me, and pushing me during post. We were all taking the same ride that Dave and the gang were on, and it was my responsibility to stick the landing and ensure everyone’s trials were worth it. But if it’s not ambitious and challenging, if we’re not demanding more of ourselves and constantly reaching for the next idea…then what’s the point? I didn’t want to just contribute to the noise; I needed to make something that deserved being made.
“This is stupid.” ~ ANNIE
Oh god, let’s be silly again. Let’s be playful, childlike, suspend our disbelief, and enjoy ourselves for a change. In an entertainment landscape of dark brooding anti-heroes, flawless physical specimens of the comic book variety, and bloated detached CGI spectacles, let’s put on a janky puppet show and do goofy voices and make each other laugh.