Guillermo del Toro Predicts the Future of Filmmaking

May 24, 2009
Source: Wired

Guillermo del Toro

I really love Guillermo del Toro. Not only is he a brilliant filmmaker, but he's got a lot to say about almost everything (especially filmmaking), and I just love hearing him talk. We haven't heard from him too much recently, obviously because he's down in New Zealand working on pre-production for The Hobbit. But the tech gurus over at Wired got a chance to talk with del Toro recently (initially about his new vampire novel The Strain) and that means they've got one of the most interesting interviews with GdT that you'll ever read. This time the focus is actually on filmmaking and where it's headed in the future. Read on!

Let's get into this, shall we? "People think because you love genre you don't know anything else. It's condescending. If the emotion is provoked and the goals are achieved, what does it matter? Is Thomas Pynchon a more worthy read than Stephen King? It depends on the afternoon. And I love Kurt Vonnegut. He threads the profane and irreverent with the profound and soul-searing." That is del Toro's response to the idea that science fiction / fantasy genres and "serious filmmaking" don't mix in the mainstream. Obviously del Toro achieved exactly that with Pan's Labyrinth and has pushed the boundaries with his other movies.

So what about the future of filmmaking? Scott Brown's discussion in the Wired interview (which is a must read from start to finish) reaches that topic when del Toro is asked to elaborate on exactly how interactivity is going to change Hollywood, which he had hinted at in an earlier response. His answer:

"[Legendary B-movie producer] Samuel Arkoff once told me there are only 10 great stories. That's where the engine and promiscuity come in. Hollywood thinks art is like Latin in the Middle Ages—only a few should know it, only a few should speak it. I don't think so."

If that's the case, then how will we start telling those same 10 stories in different ways? He continues:

"We are used to thinking of stories in a linear way—act one, act two, act three. We're still on the Aristotelian model. What the digital approach allows you to do is take a tangential and nonlinear model and use it to expand the world. For example: If you're following Leo Bloom from Ulysses on a certain day and he crosses a street, you can abandon him and follow someone else."

Now that sounds like a very cool idea. And it also sounds a bit like a video game, which is where some of their discussion ends up. In regards to any updates on in-development del Toro projects, the only one they mention is Slaughterhouse-Five, which is another adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's sci-fi classic that del Toro is attached to direct. We haven't heard much about this project yet, but it was listed on his extensive Roadmap to 2017 that we posted late last year. This time, Wired brought it up, asking specifically if that reference to Kurt Vonnegut (as seen above) was the reason why he wants to adapt Slaughterhouse-Five.

"Enormous truths can be revealed with a sense of humor and whimsy. With Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone, which is a less well-known film, I was trying the same thing, in a way. And with my first feature, the vampire fable Cronos, too. I tried to take genre premises and explore them obliquely, where the fantastic is either tangential or illuminates reality in a different way."

Again, another amazing answer, even if it's vaguely related to his in-the-works Slaughterhouse-Five adaptation. It's a great interview and I wish it went on longer, but alas it ends fairly short. Not only is this interview a huge inspiration for me (in terms of my own interviews, as it's great seeing so much discussion coming from one piece), but there's also just a lot of good ideas it. It's not worth pestering del Toro for any more details. It's best that we just sit back and let him work on all of his projects - whether it be The Hobbit, more vampire novels, more films, or even TV shows or comics. What do you think about his theories?

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screw vampire movies... We need more Werewolve movies! For some wierd reason I always have mix feelings when reading up on the director, Guillermo del Toro.

The_Phantom on May 24, 2009



jono on May 24, 2009


another vampire movie? c'mon.

cat on May 24, 2009


The type of gaming he describes already exists. Go buy Oblivion and get lost in that world. And bringing that type of game style to a movie would be difficult. Hollywood uses proven models; until someone comes along and makes something profitable they won't touch it. They stick to simple, easy, marketable gimmicks, like 3d.

germs on May 24, 2009


Funny he mentioned gaming cause in my opinion development companies come up with better stories and all around better storytelling than most of the shit hollywood churns out.

cody on May 24, 2009


I am honestly not sure Guillermo is talking about anything new. The idea of using a fantasy to enhance a "pure drama" concept is not new. This is supposedly the breakthrough Steven Spielberg started by making "JAWS"... a film that was effectively a fantasy with a giant shark but also made biting commentary about the way Bureaucracy and some "distant managers" think to the detriment of their members. The calamity level in JAWS kept increasing, for example, the more counter-intuitive decisions came out from the town and resort handlers. You knew that the movie would be over if somebody with power in that world made a decision that didn't involve forcing the beaches to stay open. But if you think about it JAWS was a "tangent metaphor" for the same thing everywhere. It enhanced the audience's purview to see that in any calamity or big problem, powers-that-be can (and tend) to make decisions that are not good for the rest of the community. A similar elevation over the usual "Genre elements" is also achieved by films like The Dark Knight, and recently Angels & Demons. I commend Guillermo though for pointing it out. It is indeed a good place for the future to continue growing.

SS on May 24, 2009


"But the tech gurus over at Wired got a chance to talk with del Toro recently (initially about his new vampire novel The Strain) and that means they've got one of the most interesting interviews with GdT that you'll ever read." First off, in what tangential universe does that sentencemake any lick of sense??? Secondly, that idea he's describing where you follow someonefor a moment and then abandon them and follow another person has been done before, the movie "Slacker"by Richard Linklater is done in that exact same way. It may sound like "a very cool idea" but it sure as hell isn't, I wanted so badly to like that movie but it sucks. Also the storytelling is the weakest aspect of most videogames, I would hate if films went (even further" in that direction.Terminator Salvationplayed out almost exactly like a videogame would, so more movies like that is a very unwelcome idea in my opinion. I don't think GdT is very close to revolutionizing anything,I do very much like Pan's Labrynth though and wish more genre films (any films actually) took an intellegent route like that one did.

Matt S on May 24, 2009


A brilliant filmmaker? Hardly. What 'brilliant' films has he directed? He's directed two good movies, but they most certainly weren't brilliant. The rest of his output has been average at best.

Wottock Hunt on May 25, 2009


Look at poor Guillermo, trying to stare us all down. He writes better rhetoric than dialogue, I'll give him that with a smack to the face!LOL. He seems to have developed a bad habit of trying to make up for the deficiency in his movies with a 'knowledge-box' interpretation of all thing literate/cinematic. Something tells me The Hobbit will be his undoing.

NerdKillinMachine on May 25, 2009


@9: Does Pan's Labyrinth ring any bells. @10: And yet, GDT movies are infinitely better than anything your feeble mind could create.

elessar on May 25, 2009


I think the key point a lot of you are missing, (#10) is that he's not saying he's better than anyone else. That little bit about latin in the middle ages... What I got out of this, is that he feels cinema needs new ideas, but mainstream Hollywood is afraid to try it. They want the same names attached to everything. GDT seems in favor of some new blood being brought on board.

nate on May 25, 2009


To those who are bored or mad about vampire movies: Another horror film c'mon Another action flick c'mon Another love story c'mon In reality we're just watching the same movies over & over. So why BS? on May 25, 2009


everybody knows the war is over everybody knows the good guys lost the poor stay poor the rich get rich that's how it goes everybody knows that the boat is leaking everybody knows the captain lied just got to sit back and watch as everything burns now 😉

Jason K on May 25, 2009


I like del Toro's take on the future of cinema. Sure, some of the things he mentioned are not new. But, he sure has a unique vision and style that he employs; he takes old subjects, per se, and revolutionizes the narrative and gives us various dimensions whether in characterization, art direction, dialogue, etc! Some of us just clearly didn't understand his rationale, but in a few short years many filmmakers, both new and old will be trying to emulate him!

Spider on May 25, 2009


He complains about the basic 3 act system. Because he can´t make it work this way. Now compare modern abstract painting with the masterpieces of the past and you tell me seriously what´s better.

pipo on May 26, 2009


Fantasy films have always had critical acclaim - see "Metropolis" or "The Wizard of Oz" - I don't buy this crap that fantasy/sci fi film makers are getting dismissed by Hollywood for having fertile imaginations....the critics are those who think that an "Oscar-worthy" movie should involve historical realism, emotions and/or mental retardation a la "Rainman".

Google The Oct8pus on May 26, 2009


Del Toro is a brilliant director makes me feel movies still have that feel of inspiration and that good atmosphere that alot of people miss from the last decade. He is simply perfect.

Fisherr on May 27, 2009


slaughterhouse five is a kick ass movie, cant wait to see how Del Toro spins it!

lando on May 28, 2009

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