On Friday, Dave Made a Maze was the opening night movie for the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival. Playing to a sold out and very appreciative crowd, the film was a hit with festival goers. I had the chance to speak with co-writer/director Bill Watterson and lead actress Meera Rohit Kumbhani, who plays Dave’s put upon girlfriend who has to lead a group of zany friends into the maze to save Dave.
Mike: Welcome to the Atlanta Film Festival!
Bill Watterson: Thank you, we are happy to be here!
Tell us a little about the film.
Bill: Dave Made a Maze is about an artist named Dave who builds a cardboard box fort in his living room, just like you did when you were a kid. His loving girlfriend comes home and finds him trapped inside. She leads a band of an oddball group of friends into rescue him, and they discover that inside it’s a huge fantasy world made out of cardboard and other craft materials.
So Meera, when you read the script, how many times did it take for you to read it before you figured out what the film was about?
Meera Rohit Kumbhani: I didn’t figure out what the film was about until I first saw it at Slamdance. It took me twice to read before I could say I don’t understand it but I want to do this film. The first time I read it, I was saying to myself that this is going to be really, really bad or incredibly amazing.
Bill: And that’s what I was thinking right up to the end of the editing process.
Meera: I didn’t know Bill or anybody involved yet with the film, so I just read this crazy script that is so wildly ambitious that I thought that there is no way we can pull this off. And I didn’t even picture all the amazing things that Bill was picturing for the film. The second time I read the script, I read it through the relationship between this artist and this woman who isn’t an artist but is willing to try and find some place that they can meet and get into his world. I thought there was a lot of heart in that idea and I said yes to doing the movie.
You used an incredible amount of cardboard in this film. Tell us about the materials used to make this movie.
Bill: Yeah, we estimated that we used 30,000 square feet of cardboard. We got a few corporate donations at the beginning, just about a palate trucks worth and we thought that should be enough to make this film. I think maybe three days into production, the art department said: “We’re going to run out.” We were very lucky that we were filming in an industrial section of town and next door was a company called Solar City. They had a designated cardboard dumpster which hey just let us have at it. So we were dumpster diving every day to keep replenishing the materials needed. And the art department did a fantastic job a repurposing the cardboard from the sets. They used the same four walls for each of the different parts of the maze; they just kept retexturing them for the different scenes. The art department knew we were on a limited budget and planned ahead to reuse each set for a new part of the maze. This meant that we could stay on schedule and everything ran pretty smoothly.
The sets just look amazing! What was it like to act on those very unique sets?
Meera: That’s what we said every day, how amazing the set’s looked. We would show up every day, and we were like, we wrapped at eleven pm last night, and the next morning a brand new set would already be assembled. We were like, when and how did they build this? It was incredible to watch and was representative of the whole month that we shot the film. We were like: how is this happening, where will this movie go next and I have no clue on how to define any of it.
So what’s it like opening the Atlanta Film Festival?
Bill: Overwhelming. I was very excited when I heard that we had a slot in the festival, but I was not anticipating this at all. The more I looked into the festival and talked to people in the area; I realized what a rich cultural history of puppets and things like the 30th-anniversary exhibit of Labyrinth at the Center for Puppetry Arts. That’s my world! My family and I would sit every week and watch the Muppet Show. So our film makes a excellent fit for this festival, but we never expected this kind of opportunity. It’s all been so wonderful!
Have a great time at the festival and enjoy the Plaza Theatre.
Bill: Thank you, we are just soaking this experience all in and it’s been great!
For more of Mike’s interviews and reviews click here