Thank you so much for taking the time. I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t love Godzilla, so getting to talk to people who have had some influence over that is very meaningful to me.
Black: He’s very difficult to work with.
I can only imagine. On that note, dealing with Apple, dealing with bringing Godzilla to TV, we’ve got a big long series here as opposed to a movie. How tough was it for you guys in the development process, knowing that you’d be, I would assume, limited a little bit in terms of the monster action you’d be able to deliver? You couldn’t just have 10 episodes full of monster battles. So was that a bit of a challenge for you guys developing this whole thing?
Fraction: I think working with Apple and working with Legendary and Toho, our ambition was to tell a story for television. We can’t compete with those films. They’re such massive, epic spectacles, but they’re films, they’re things we buy tickets for. We go out with our friends to watch in big crowds on these big screens as a kind of community collective experience. TV is a thing you invite into your home, you spend time with over weeks and weeks. So we wanted to make this a show. We didn’t want to make it a scaled-down version. We didn’t want to turn it into “monster of the week.” We didn’t want it to be the bad version of those movies. We wanted it to be the good version — as good of a version as we could manage — of a show set in this world. That begins with human characters, and the idea that we could start our Godzilla show in a world where everyone knows Godzilla is real. Now what? That’s an incredible starting point to tell stories.
Chris had this kind of astonishingly great conception of this guy with two families and it all comes out after this global catastrophe. That’s just such an intriguing story of this brother and sister trying to figure out the mystery of who their father was. As we would kind of shorthand it in the room, the giant monsters keep getting in the way.
Black: You talk about the challenges of the development process, which are legendary in Hollywood, but I think for us, the only real challenges that Legendary and Apple presented us with was, this has got to be great. It’s got to be great. The bar is set so high. People can’t look at this and feel like, “Oh, it’s the cheap TV version of these movies.” It has got to blow everyone away, both in terms of the storytelling and the filming.
Matt Shakman, for you then as the director, how hard was that for you to approach? “I’ve got to make this feel cinematic like people expect from this stuff, but for TV.” Was that a challenge for you?
Shakman: No, I mean, I think it’s what these gentlemen here have said, which is that what they built was this beautiful multi-generational family drama and mystery and puzzle set within a monster universe. So it’s human-centric by definition and there’s still incredible scale and scope, but you’re seeing it from the ground level. So instead of being up there in the sky as Kong fights Godzilla, which is amazing and great, and I want to see that, too, we want to be down on the ground and realize what the impact of that kind of fight has on the humans on the ground.
It’s just as exciting, if not more so and more visceral to be down there, and feeling your world change by the introduction of these unfathomable forces and these creatures. This show is not dramatic scene, spectacle scene, dramatic scene. They are interwoven together because how these monsters impact these people changes them, affects the course of their lives, brings them together, throws them apart, and it’s all part of the dramatic engine of the show. It’s television, doing what television does best.
Black: But the one thing I do want to say about Matt is I don’t want him to undersell or undervalue what he brought to this visually. His filmmaker’s eye. His episode, it looks like a feature film for television. It’s really spectacular. He was absolutely relentless and meticulous in making sure that every moment was being sold on screen the way it needed to be sold.
Fraction: I think to that end, because you have so many layers of humans and authentic worlds, and real locations that we shot in, those monsters become so much more real to me, right? Because you’re seeing them through the eyes of people, you’re seeing them through layers of humanity and things that you know are true, and it helps make them feel even more real, I think, than when you’re living up there in the stratosphere.