Guillermo del Toro Interview

guillermo-del-toro1_optCheck out this vintage September, 2004 interview that Laurence conducted with that most enthusiastic of filmmakers Guillermo del Toro, for Video Business Magazine.

We spoke on the eve of the DVD release of Del Toro’s highly stylized comic action-fantasy Hellboy. It didn’t take too to realize that one of the only thing del Toro loves more than his DVD collection is making DVDs of his own movies!

Disc Dish: After taking a long look at the Hellboy two-disc package, my first impression is that the days of special editions consisting of a little featurette and a single commentary are over!

Guillermo Del Toro: I think so! I have tried to with every DVD I’ve ever put out to just make them as comprehensive as possible. The more didactic and the more open and the more exploited you can have the movie—for fans and for young filmmakers—the better it is. DVD’s are the biggest “making of” projects every produced.

DD: The Hellboy DVD is extraordinary. It so full of information and interactivity and it maintains the integrity of the film and even the original comicbook.

Del Toro: We were very determined to maintain that integrity. I don’t like very elaborate menus, but I do like them to be very elegant and to be consistent with the movie.

DD: Some of the branching options are among the most complex and exotic I’d ever seen.

Del Toro: It is. We’ve created enough material to keep viewers busy for a good six hours.

DD: The documentary on the production was two-and-a-half hours on its own.

Del Toro: I’ll tell you this, we’re coming up with another special edition in November that not only has a longer cut of the film, but it will have even more supplements on a third disc.

DD: A three-disc Hellboy in November!? That’s so much material. Will you be on screen doing intros as frequently as you are on the current disc?

HellBoyDVDDel Toro: Oh, yes. Remember this disc started being put together during pre-production. When I think about the Blade II DVD, I’m proud of its production and design, but we didn’t start planning it until post. I knew that we had to start planning our next DVDs during pre-production. For Hellboy, we were incredibly meticulous about scanning every shred of paper the concern the pre-production. We were very careful to capture beautiful, 3-D turnaround images of the monster maquettes (detailed miniatures used in the film). We were also determined to show people all the possible ad campaigns that we considered—there are dozens of poster explorations included, out of which I liked about twenty!

DD: One of the most fascinating features was tracing of the visual schemes from your doodles to the storyboards to the boardomatics to the animatics that were used by the creative team for the visual effects. Tell me, is there anything you don’t want to share with your audience?

Del Toro: Not really. Particularly not on the DVD and certainly not after November when the longer version comes out. For now, we held back a bit on the deleted scenes but there will be much more on the next one, including fifteen minutes of additional footage.

DD: We’ve never met a filmmaker who’s so open to revealing his techniques

Del Toro: A lot of people buy the DVD and want to be casual observers and that’s fine by me. I can guarantee that the mix and the color correction quality will be topnotch. For the other observers who want to know it all—like me when I was a kid—I think they deserve to really be taken behind the scenes.

DD: By the way, it didn’t take too long for us to bump into the Easter egg where you’re on camera and you slam your cue card man!

Del Toro: (laughs) Well, I always thought the best easter eggs are the ones that are easiest to find.

DD: We hear you have an out-of-this-world DVD collection…

Del Toro: Yes, more than 5,000.

DD: Okay, top of your head, what are your favorite discs?

Del Toro: I particularly like Fox’s Alien Quadrilogy—you can see that the people who produced the discs have a definite passion for the films. What else…? A French compilation of Tex Avery cartoons, that’s absolutely gorgeous. And I love my Japanese boxed set of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

DD: Wow! Jodorowsky’s biggest films—El Topo, Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre—aren’t even available on disc in the U.S. (Ed. Note: They’ve since been released on both DVD and Blu-ray.) He’s one of the biggest Latino cult filmmakers here.

Del Toro: Yes, I know the Japanese box is pretty rare.

Ron Perlman in Hellboy

Ron Perlman in Hellboy

DD: I’m not surprised you like Jodorowsky. His visual style is quite jarring and really leaves an impression. You must also enjoy the work of another Latin filmmaker who’s just starting to get a following on DVD, Fernando Arrabal.

Del Toro: Yes, yes, from Spain. He made Viva la Muerte. He had to be one of the most brilliant, absolutely deranged filmmakers out there..

DD: He and Jodorowsky worked together in the Sixties, didn’t they?

Del Toro: Yes, they founded the “Panic Theater” movement. With that, they were extolling the virtues of lack of control and free association. Quite crazy.

DD: Is that, well, “insanity” something you aspire to?

Del Toro: Well, I can watch it and admire, but I don’t think that’s me.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.