Jumanji Movie Filmmaker interviews

jumanji

In theaters NOW!!

I was recently invited to my dream press junket.  I was invited to premier the (2017) movie Jumanji in Oahu, Hawaii.  I could not have been any more excited to premier the movie, interview the filmmakers and the cast members.  Eeeeek! 

The morning after we premiered the film (make sure you read my review of the movie.) we were set to interview Jake Kasden and Matt Tolmach.  I am always fascinated by these interviews since we get to find out specific details about the script, hidden story line messages, cool behind the scene tidbits and learn a bit of insight into the personalities of the creators of the amazing movie I just premiered.  

Mommy Bloggers with Jake Kasdan and Matt Tolmach at the JUMNAJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE press junket in Hawaii.
Mommy Bloggers with Jake Kasdan and Matt Tolmach at the JUMNAJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE press junket in Hawaii.

Director: Jake Kasden

Kasdan. He is a producer and director, known for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), Zero Effect (1998) and The TV Set (2006).

Producer: Matt Tolmach 

Tolmach is a producer and writer, known for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).

How much of the movie was green screen vs how much was a real set?    It’s almost entirely real.  The vast majority of the movie was shot here in Hawaii at various jungle locations. Some of the stuff that was completely impossible, was shot on stage.  But the majority was right here.  

What brought you two to this project and what inspired the direction of the story?  Matt… It started a few years back.  I have always loved Jumanji, I loved the movie and I loved the book. I have a young son and I had been reading the book to my son.  In his preschool, they had the parents come in and read a book to the class, I read the book Jumanji.  I watched the reaction of the kids while I read it and it was wonder and this incredible fantasy.  It was incredibly captivating for them.  I toyed with the idea for a while.  It really did not begin to take shape until I reached out to my friend Jake and we began to figure out what the best version of this movie.  

Jake… yes I came to it because Matt sent me the script that had Chris McKenna (really smart, funny well-known hilarious guy) had this idea that you can invert the game, go into the world, and that the way to update it, would be to take it a long way away from the original movie that we all love, so that we are not just doing the original movie again.  We did not want to do that. We loved the original movie.  We wanted to honor that but do something completely different and Chris came up with a really funny way to do that.  That was what I really responded too. I just thought it was a great idea.  To enter the game in the body of the avatar characters.  So it’s a big comedy idea but I also felt that it had this great opportunity to be sort of .. what would you learn about yourself if you could spend the day in someone else’s skin.  That was the big great idea to me.  These teenagers are at a moment where they are trying to figure out who they are anyway. Then to have this surreal adventure, experience they can start to explore who they actually are.

Matt…. There was this moment in the original movie where Robin Williams goes into the game.  While it was brief, it promised something really magical.  When Chris started to talk about the movie. I was sort of surprised.  He said there is one movie that I am really in love with, that I have to write… its Jumanji.  I was thrilled but I was surprised and I asked why?  He said because I was this big awkward kid in High School and I used to come home at the end of the day and I would play video games and in that moment, by myself, I could be anybody.  I could be courageous, I could be anything I wanted to be.  That avatars allow you to be something that you may not have the courage to be during the day but the idea that you can walk away from that and that maybe you find that courage was in you all along.  That was a very powerful emotional idea and also so ripe with comedic possibilities.  

What did you parents do to encourage you to get where you are now.   Matt… My Grandfather was in the film business and I grew up seeing a lot of movies as a kid.  Story telling and reading books was a huge emphasis in my childhood and upbringing.  My parents both really stressed the importance of that and having an opinion.  Have a point of view. Read books, have ideas and express yourself. That was my family mantra.  For me, I was encouraged to think and speak openly and have opinions is something that I chased in college and in my life.  In Hollywood that is a big part of what anybody has to offer, what do you think, what are your ideas.  You know right or wrong just speak up.  

Jake… I grew up around movies and movie sets. So, from an early age, I could see that this was great work and you were very lucky if you were able to do it (as a career).  They have always been hugely encouraging of my work.  Also as a kid they did not push me in this direction.  I was able to see as a kid that it was a really cool thing to do. I started at a fairly young age.  Just last week I showed my own kids the movie for the first time and my parents were sitting there with my kids.  We are very involved with each other.  They also always modeled that this could be your work and you could make movies but it was really important to have other parts of your life.  Have friends that do other things.  Have a diverse life.  

Was their ability to give the females in the film their own type of empowerment? Jake…  Yes that was very important to us.  It was something that we talked about a lot.  How we were sort of representing the female characters.  What their journey would be.  What all of their journeys would be.  They both kind of experienced this arc and growth that was facilitated by the bodies they were in.  Martha comes out of her shell and finds her inner bad ass.  Karen just did a spectacular job playing that.  It is one of my favorite things in the movie, I just love how Karen plays both parts so genuinely.  You totally buy this awkward teenager, I think she totally relates to that and has some of that in her composition, despite the fact that she is a total bad ass.  She is really that too. She is doing all that stuff.  That is her doing those fights ,to a remarkable extent.  She can do all that stuff.  She is incredibly strong. She is an incredibly strong person. I was very aware that I want my daughter to watch this movie and feel really good about what she is seeing.  

 I would  love to know…whose idea was it to cast Jack Black as Bethany because it was brilliant. (my question)  Jake… He is so clearly the perfect person for this, it almost was not an idea that anyone needed to have.  It’s almost like… it was not up to him (Matt chimes in) It was fated to be.  Jake has also worked with Jack a lot in the past.  

Jake… I am well versed in his genius and I do think he is incredible.  I had a strong sense that he would be brilliant doing it.   

These are just some bits of our incredibly interesting interviews with Matt & Jake. 

Check out my dear friend Natalie from Twinversity’s article for other bits and pieces from this interview.  

Please follow #jumaji & #welcometothejunket for more posts which include other bits from this interview. 

Thank you Sony Pictures for this most exciting adventure.

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