Ghostbusters father-son directors the Reitmans: 'There was never enough slime'

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Jason and Evan Reitman attend the New York premiere of Ghostbusters: Afterlife earlier this year.

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife Is a family affair, and not just because it’s about a new generation descended from the ghostly heroes of the ’80s. The film is directed and co-written by Jason Reitman With the help of his father, Ivan Reitman, Director of original ghostbusters movies,


I chatted with Jason and Evan on Zoom about balancing Ghostbustin’s nostalgia with a new direction. We also talked about the 2016 reboot, where Ghostbusters 2 went wrong and what it’s like to work with your dad.

Q: Jason, was your dad really on set every day? How did you communicate with each other?
Jason Reitman: We were almost as close as you see us now. Our director’s chairs were located right next to each other in front of the monitor. You know, if your parents came to work with you every day, there would be challenging moments! But more than anything, it was the adventure of a lifetime. I get to make a Ghostbusters movie with the world’s leading Ghostbusters expert.

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When you were making a decision, did you recognize any noise from your father? Was he like, “Eh…”?
Jason: Oh yes, there are some! My dad is watching a take – first of all, he’s acting with actors. As the actors are performing, he’s going [mimes acting], He is doing the entire scene with her. And if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing, you just watch him give a signal like this, shake his head a little. Which is better than me, because if I like the display, I start tapping the screen with my index finger, and if I don’t like the display I flick the screen with my finger.

Did you feel like you were aligning on things? Or were there sticking points, or were there particular disagreements that you had to work out?
Jason: Let me tell you one thing my father was unhappy about: He wanted more slime. There was never enough mud, and I’ll admit, I was shy on mud. But my father’s big note, was always…

Ivan Reitman: “A little more mud here…” Not every scene though.


who are you going to call? A new generation of Ghostbusters.

Obviously, the original movies were made in very different eras of special effects. So I was wondering if Slime is real.
Jason: We have some digital slime that we’ve added, but for the most part every effort was made to do practically everything on this film.

Evan, were you jealous of how digital effects could be done now, or was there a definite attempt to recall the way you worked for the original films?
Evan: In some ways it’s easy to get the CGI opportunities we have here, but in a lot of ways I think it makes things more complicated. When you have practical effects, like terrorist dogs – it was in the room and reacting a lot like I had to deal with in 1984. I could see how it affected the actors, and what I learned was that there are real live effects, and placing the actor with the animal – they really affected it very positively.

Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, Celeste O'Connor, Logan Kim, Paul Rudd, Evan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Jason Reitman attend the Ghostbusters: Afterlife world premiere on November 15, 2021 in New York City.  (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Sony Pictures)

Ghostbusters Old and New: Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, Celeste O’Connor, Logan Kim, Paul Rudd, Evan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Jason Reitman on the red carpet in New York.

Jason, when you had the idea for the afterlife, your father was the first person you showed it to?
Jason: Oh yeah, every script I write is first read by my father.

So, were you nervous that this is a movie about an absent father?
Jason: No, I think we both knew this wasn’t what it was about. I mean, I think my father was the first person I told this idea to, and it affected him a lot. This is a film about nostalgia. It’s a movie about going through your grandparents’ basement and finding out who they are. It’s a film about heritage, and heritage is a concept that my father and I have talked about a lot. I went into the family business, and even though I made my own movies for a long time, the idea that I was running around with batons, that they had given me this storytelling torch, has always been a part of our conversation. It felt natural that we make a Ghostbusters movie about the grandson of a Ghostbuster who was learning to be Ghostbusters himself.

What did you learn about each other during the making of this film?
Jason: Ha! you know what? What’s amazing is how often I find myself making decisions on set – for example, how to rip a paw off the arm of a chair and then grab the person sitting in the chair – and as we did, hand feeling needs to come up [mimes a claw coming up] and then hold [mimes grabbing], And I realized that 35 years ago, my father came to the same conclusion in exactly the same way. And this would happen every day. It was a strange deja vu for my father’s life.

Evan, what did you learn about Jason?
Ivan: That he’s meticulous. [Jason laughs] I have seen his movies. I have admired his films. But I was not on the set the way I was on it and just watching the process. I had to admire how careful he was and how hard he worked. And here the best acting is being received from many young actors as well as experienced people.

When you did Ghostbusters 2, you already had to go back to the Ghostbusters story, and recreate. Did you learn anything from the experience that you could have brought it?
Ivan: I think I did. In particular, I feel like I copied the part of my first story very closely in my sequels. I wish I could have walked down Fifth Avenue without the Statue of Liberty. People love it, but I really wanted to work on the relationships that the main characters had, especially between the characters Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. I think special effects may have got in the way of that story.

Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters 2.

Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters 2.

Coming back to those original movies… Jason, you mentioned nostalgia. How did you take that nostalgia balance with a new direction?
Jason: We wanted them to reconcile for sure. We wanted this to be a movie that had everything you loved about the original Ghostbusters, with new characters in a new location on a new adventure. And we wanted it to be something like, whether it’s the 1,000th time you’re watching the Ghostbusters movie — which is actually true for many people — or the first time you’re watching, make it work both ways. fell. Therefore [co-writer] Gil Cannon and I made a list of everything we’d ever want to see in the Ghostbusters movie—everything we want to find, so to speak, while looking around in our grandparents’ basement, and [that] We wanted to hand that back to the fans. Sounds like trap, pk meter, proton pack, car, flight suit, siren of ecto-1. But everything in a new way.

Evan: And also the family structure that we didn’t have in the early movies. That dynamic can be very powerful.

Jason: Yeah, the original movies are always about four men who go into business together. And we were making a film about three generations of a family that needed to be amended. And I think the general propulsion about the story was always going to keep it from recreating the plot of the original.

The 2016 remake with a female cast followed that basic template. Were you tempted to invite the stars of that movie for cameos, or to continue that world?
Jason: 2016 movie was created in his universe. So we have to let it be our own universe, and if it continues and there are more movies, it will be within that universe. The real important thing that came out of that movie was Paul Feig’s ability to broaden the concept of what a Ghostbusters movie could be, which was certainly essential to us making this movie.

Were you worried that you would overwrite that movie in the minds of fans?
Jason: Not at all. I think there are broad fandoms like Marvel or Star Wars or Superman comics that people like that have an understanding of the different continuities that exist for different characters. The Paul Feig film has its own universe and mythology, featuring four fantastic women. It only happens at its place.

Speaking of nostalgia, the Ecto-1 car looked like it drew on a toy just like the movie. Now how do you feel looking at the fact that for decades, there are still sneakers being released and toys being made?
Jason: The original movie was about four people who became Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is about the rest of us. It’s about a group of us who played with toys as kids, who have always dreamed of becoming Ghostbusters themselves. so it’s no accident that bug-eyeA ghost made for toys appears in this film. It’s no accident that it’s agreed to Gunner chair on the original Kenner Toys, This is a movie for all those people who have always wondered what it’s like to be a Ghostbuster, always dreamed of wearing a flight suit, wondered what it’s like to hold a Ghost. We want to show a bunch of characters who felt like us in childhood, who wanted to bust a ghost and finally got their chance.

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