Taika Waititi felt nervous working with studio on Thor: Ragnarok

During his BAFTA screenwriting lecture, Taika Waititi, who became known for writing, directing and starring in his own comedies, touched upon working with a big movie studio like Disney on Thor: Ragnarok. Here’s what he had to say:

When asked how he approached taking on such a big project, he said:

“I was obviously nervous about working with a studio in general, but they – I did two pitches with them and one of them was really just to give a tonal idea of what I wanted to do and I made this little reel of just basically ripping clips from lots and lots of movies that looked exciting and then put Immigrant Song over the top of it and that seemed to work. 

“But pitching I think is less about your idea of it and more about sussing each other out and figuring out if you can be able to work with each other for two years. And I found them really lovely people. So I ended up kind of just subtly pushing my voice and tone and stuff into the film from the beginning. But they wouldn’t have hired me if they hadn’t seen those other films and had known that somehow that tone was going to end up in there.” 

He also explained how he got control over the script and made Korg (played by himself) a bigger character:

“Thor it was challenging because I wanted to control all of those elements and having a script come in that was not really in my style – it was a good script but it wasn’t my style – so I found that hard. But I always get to do passes on scripts, that was built into my contract on Thor that I would get to do a story pass and dialogue pass and change a lot of things, so – for instance Korg that character they were like. ‘We’ve got this rock character we might put it in for one scene,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, sounds good maybe I could play that character.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ And then I took my pass on the script and they were like, ‘This character’s in this movie quite a lot.’”

When asked if he was worried about his voice getting lost working on Marvel film with all the Disney execs weighing in, he said:

“It can definitely get lost, but that’s also the thing. I knew going into Thor that my strength was not action movies or superhero movies, my strength was tone and character and dialogue and moments. So I just concentrated on that stuff, on my strengths, knowing that this was the seventeenth movie in a run that had seventeen consecutive box office hits. So I thought, ‘OK, you guys probably know what you’re doing in that department. I’ll just try to inject this tone into the thing.’ But if I’d tried to come in and reinvent the genre or anything I would’ve been, you know, fell on my arse pretty quickly.”

Here are the full highlights of Taika Waititi’s BAFTA lecture

Here’s Taika Waititi talking about the making of What We Do in the Shadows

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