Achieving Flashpoint with ‘The Flash’ Filmmakers Andy and Barbara Muschietti

The first reactions for The Flash are hitting the internet as we speak. After a successful Los Angeles screening and a wider screening at this week’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the hype for the movie is growing increasingly strong with every social reaction that hits the internet.

We at The Nerds of Color were fortunate enough to attend a screening of the film last night, with director Andy Muschietti and producer Barbara Muschietti in attendance. And the duo dove in very deep into everything they believe makes this film an incredibly special movie.

The panel, hosted by moderator Grae Drake, allowed the Muschiettis to discuss what it was like to work with Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, and of course, its controversial lead, Ezra Miller. Here’s what they had to say about the movie:

DRAKE: Let’s talk about [the transition] specifically, going from horror straight into huge comic book movie.

ANDY MUSCHIETTI (AM): I think personally my connection to comic books come from from childhood. I took a break… a 30 year break between my passion of connection with comic books and this movie. So I had a lot of catching up to do. So… I can’t say I’m a hardcore nerd of comic books, but I definitely had that in my heart for a long time. And when they approached me with the movie, I said, “let’s give it a shot.” Because there’s something there that I really liked to reconnect with…. [horror and comic book movies are] not such a dramatic stretch… because it’s, I think it’s different flavors of the same sensibility. I think you’ve probably heard before that when when you make a movie, you have to find a vision. You find it from inside, all the things that you create, the visions that you bring, they have to come from instinct, and from things that are very much from the inside out. And there’s a lot of things that you find in it that you find here.

Like, recently my love for powerful emotional stories, or emotional cores. Humor, horror – you don’t see any much horror in this one because there was no place for it — but I think it’s not straight. If you ask, how do you switch [from horror to comic book movies]? There was no switch actually, I put in every movie. I approach the emotional angle, and if… that core is powerful enough, then it’s worth putting a story around it. And I think it will happen for every genre that I that I do. I like these genres. I know I’m not married to horror. Superhero were for me really like a challenge because I never made a superhero movie before.

DRAKE: Let’s keep with the theme of the movie and talk about going back in time. What is it that drew you to this particular story? Barbara, what were you thinking? What was your access point?

BARBARA MUSCIETTI (BM): You know, we have a little thing for the, you know, parent child relationship. It’s the most basic, the most beautiful, and the hardest relationship you’ll have. That was an instant talk. And, and on a personal note, I [wanted] to see Keaton now play Batman again.

DRAKE: This was also your biggest project, so far, as a producer. Can you talk about like some of the specific pros and cons as well?

BM: It’s fascinating that you know, your biggest gift is also your biggest problem, which is money. You know? You get more money and that’s great. Get more money, and that’s terrible, too… We had so much support from the studio to do the movie that we wanted to do was the most shocking. The support and trust they put in us in a movie of this size… That shows because we got to do something very personal.

DRAKE: Definitely feels that way. You watch it and in the heart of the film is Ezra. And they give this amazing, multi-layered performance. Can you talk about that performance and also talk about how Ezra is doing?

AM: Oh, Ezra is a extraordinary actor. And one of my best experiences working with an actor ever. Just brilliant. Their contributions are constant, and also they like to play and like to do more takes than I do, which is a lot. Take 24 and, like, I think we’re done. They always ask, “can we do one more?” They’re full of incredible emotions. They bring them to the set. Everytime. And they’re an incredible comedian also, which is something that I wasn’t fully prepared for. I mean, I saw them in movies before I saw them playing Barry in other pictures. And the fact that they were playing two versions of the same character — versions that are, you know, diametrically opposed. The Barry that we all know that is neurotic and anxious for the hardships, childhood trauma, and whatnot. Coping with all of that. And the Barry that is basically none of that. And he’s absolutely carefree and a bit of a goofball. Yeah… And it was a very fun challenge to explore. Those two characters were Ezra, for me. It was a lot of fun.

So it was complicated in the complexities of designing the perfect Odd Couple. Nothing was set in stone while we were working with the script. Parts of the script were written [during] almost the last days of prep. I wanted to deepen the emotional repercussions of having two characters that are diametrically opposed, and sensibilities and they have to work together. And I thought that there had to be a clash at the end, and that’s the scene where they basically started screaming at each other about a monkey…

You know, we’re all hoping that they get better… They’re taking the steps to recovery. They’re dealing with mental health issues… We talked to them not too long ago, and they are very committed to getting better.

BM: And I have to say during our shoot, during principal photography, their commitment to the role was something like we’ve never seen. The discipline, the work, willingness — physical and mental — and just wanting to go beyond the pale, you know, is just amazing.

DRAKE: Never in a million years would I have thought I’d walk into this movie and imagine I’d hear so many Eric Stoltz [Back to the Future] references. Like it’s just like the gifts just keep on coming.

AM: Thank you from noticing that! You know what I didn’t know about the whole Eric Stoltz thing… Eric Stoltz was fired, but the one that also got fired was the actress that plays Marty McFly’s girlfriend was none other than Melroa Hardin — Jan from The Office. And they fired her as a you know, [as part of] a ripple effect because when they brought in Michael Fox, he [was shorter] in comparison to Eric Stoltz. So Melora Hardin was like three feet higher than [him] and they had to hire a shorter actress.

DRAKE: What else did you have to leave out of the movie that was too much? Because there are so many little goodies for comic book fans and for movie fans.

AM: I’m definitely more happy with this version than the four hour version… [but] you start improvising with actors and suddenly you have a scene that is double the duration that was timed when they were like timing the script, but it happens all the time. Now, it was also like three hours and a half… Then you have to face the edit and say, “Okay, we need to remove one hour and a half of this movie. How is it going to happen?” It’s always at the end. The ending six months is fun at the beginning, then is just chaos. And whatever you start doing is wrong… because it’s trial and error and you try a lot of things anyway.

I don’t want to go that way but the truth to your answer. I don’t know if that’s where you’re asking, but there’s a lot of things in our in the movie that are sort of in the in the edit room floor. This is really the best version of the movie. There’s things that are interesting. You’ll see the deleted scenes at some point. Some are more interesting than others. Many things are very cool. But they somehow step on the propulsion, and the pacing of the movie, which is something that you always have to have in mind. Yeah, decisions that you have to make… There’s an essence that you have to respect. This is a Flash standalone movie. It’s like the first Flash movie, even though you’ll see all kinds of other characters. There’s two Barrys, there’s two Batmen. I didn’t suffer any losses, to be honest.

BM: I will say though, the “Chrono-Bowl” at the end when the planets and the universe start colliding, [we wanted to] add a lot more characters that we had to let go because they there just wasn’t time.

AM: A Hall of Fame of great, great characters and actors that play these characters. There’s so many. The list was endless. We had to choose.

DRAKE: How did you get Michael Keaton to come back for this? Tell me details. I want all the tea like maybe his phone number later. Like tell me everything.

BM: It was amazing. We took him out to lunch and we paid. And he was just wonderful. He is just the most energetic human and you’ll ever meet. It’s insane and actually, you know, when you had him on set, you had to be on the ball 100% keeping him busy, because you don’t want that man bored… So at the restaurant, he came in jogging. Sat down. We had no food. Just the script, literally under his arm, and left jogging as well. So Andy and I after the meeting were like, “we have Batman!”

DRAKE: I heard you say that both he and Ben Affleck had really emotional experiences getting back into this role. I wonder if you could maybe elaborate on that a little or talk about it?

BM: You know, [Michael] hadn’t put on the suit for 30 years. And actually, last time he had put on the suit Sean his son… has a little kid. So we put on the suit and the guy looked great… basically I mean, he got to show his tiny grandkid he was Batman. It was amazing. It was truly amazing.

AM: He doesn’t show his emotions a lot but you can tell when we build the entire Batcave on the Warner Bros. stages in London. We built the whole thing — the Batcave that you see in the film, except for the full waterfall that goes down. It’s all entirely practical. And when he arrived to the set, the Batcave was already finished, and it was lit and everything. And he stayed for a while. I didn’t want to interrupt him or anything. I just wanted for him to just take it in. And he was like, who knows what was going on there. But something was going on there. Yeah. And it was funny because at one point, the first scene that we shot, where he’s wearing the full suit, he’s like, “Take a picture. It’s for my grandson.” It just like filled me with you know… I had goosebumps. Yeah, it’s one of those moments where he really, you know, showed something that was inside. Very emotional because he’s a very cool guy. Very cool.

DRAKE: Pretty amazing. And what about Affleck?

BM: I’ll say this about him. Ben’s role is shorter in the movie, obviously. But it was very surprising to us how much love for the character he had. He came in and how he wanted to get it perfect. Like for the tone that he wanted.

AM: He liked the tone of the movie. Not all of it, but some of the tone of this movie. Quite a bit of the tone was reflected in the pages in the beginning. The humor and stuff. And he was he was really open to play a version of this Batman that had a little more levity. And he came and he did it. He crushed it.

At this point, Drake opened up the floor to questions from our fellow reporters in the press. We were even able to ask a question ourselves:

With the future of the DCU and the new plans coming up as well the final scene kind of reveals a good amount to us without revealing anything at all. Does that final moment reflect the idea that the universe has changed a little bit in some ways, but not in every way?

AM: Yes. The answer is yes. Is this a timeline where some things are similar and some things are not? The answer is yes. We want to know more. But ask me that question again. And after June 16.

Any plans for a second movie?

AM: I think that we’re all waiting to see how this movie does. Of course there’s excitement about continuing the story, especially if this movie is successful. Then there’s an architecture in DC that is brewing and it’s being created. And the question is, will this new architecture absorb this movie? You know, this story. The good thing about the multiverse is that this possible multiverse allows all of these different worlds to coexist and interact. And so hopefully, yes, I mean, we don’t know yet. That’s the truth.

DRAKE: So if I specifically asked if is this movie is part of the plans for the new DC?

AM: I certainly hope so. Again, we can’t predict the future. Everything that we hear is going to happen is very exciting. We don’t know much more than you do, honestly. Again, it’s like you know, it’s a movie about beginnings and not endings and we certainly hope so.

From the sounds of the buzz coming out of CinemaCon, many fans will hope so too!

The Flash will be speeding into theaters June 16!