LYT: With all the great improv that was apparently going on, and obvious in the outtakes over the end credits, how hard was the post-production process on this, to pick the best moments?
JV: It was difficult, it was challenging. I come from a post-production world - from a post-production background - and it's nothing in comparison to what I was doing on the Duplass movies. The main editor of the Duplass movies is Jay Deuby, and I was an additional editor, along with another guy. And the three of us would constantly build up scenes and break them down, build up and break them down, because their movies - they're scripted, but then they totally will go off script, and will have all these jokes and all these takes, and each take is 15 minutes.
So I come from that background of having tons of material, and then really designing the movie, building the movie, rewriting the movie, in post. So mine wasn't as extreme as that. I reined it in just a little bit. But yea, the choices of which joke to use - we did it, we shot the film, and we'd get takes in various different ways, and we'd try different things so we'd have options in the editing. So definitely, there are some jokes that are on the cutting room floor that I really miss, but we just didn't have room for them.
LYT: Milo was obviously completely practical, but is there digital erasing of rods and stuff, or is it just really cleverly hidden puppeteers? Like, the best sort of Muppet tricks?
JV: Well, I'll ask you - what does it look like? What does that mean? I'm curious what you think.
LYT: I can't imagine where you would have hidden the puppeteers, but then I felt that about Kermit riding the bike in The Great Muppet Caper, too.
JV: [laughs] Yeah, it's funny, because what we're using, what we're doing is we're using new technology and old technology. So the old technology is a rod puppet. The new technology is taking the puppeteer out of the frame. So in every shot that there is Milo, in the original footage there is a guy dressed in black manipulating the rods and holding him up and moving him around. What we did is we painted that guy out. We shot a plate, so whenever we had Milo in the frame, we'd shoot an additional shot with Milo out of the frame, and everybody out of the frame, and we'd replace the background. So, basically, we rotoscoped out the puppeteer.
LYT: I was curious, technically: why black, as opposed to the more traditional blue or green?
JV: We thought about that. The CG guys, our post guys, said that black would be better, because if we had green or blue, we'd spill a lot of green or blue on various objects in the room, including Milo, and we didn't want that. And really all that was necessary was black, because we weren't going to do a key. We were just going to hand-draw around Milo and take the puppeteers out. Again, it was a balance of old and new, and the only other digital thing that we did was we added eye blinks. The eye blinks are CG, but everything else is practical.
LYT: I thought about that because there was recently all this controversy that George Lucas made the Ewoks blink on the last Blu-ray, for the first time.
JV: Oh my god, really? That's funny. I didn't know that.
LYT: Yeah, because he had never been able to do that before, and I guess it mattered.
JV: Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm glad that you asked that question, because I think for people who love the old creature effects in movies, those puppets - they don't move around perfectly - they're not perfect CG creatures. They make mistakes; puppeteers are human. It has a very organic feel, and I really love that. I really love that it's not 'perfect.' I think that's how movies used to be made, and there's a beauty to that.
LYT: Moving on from here, is your next project going to be directorial or are you going to stay doing editing? Is there anything lined up on the horizon for you after this?
JV: Yeah, definitely directing is where I want to stay. I'm working on an action comedy right now. I'm working on a drama script. I'm working on a historical script, and I'm working on a lot of different things right now, and I've got a few other crazy, sort of Milo-esque ideas. I want to make a sequel - I have a sequel of Milo that I want to make, but I also have some other genre stuff that I want to make. So I'm trying to develop a lot of different projects right now, and read scripts and see what comes to the fore - see what comes to the top.
LYT: Do you know what the benchmark is for how well this has to do in order to green light a sequel?
JV: I have no idea. [laughs] I have no idea! I think a lot of people have to like it and tweet about it, and it has to do well - money-wise, it has to do well, so we'll see.
LYT: Well, you had us at "ass demon!"
JV: [laughs] Thanks!
Bad Milo! is now available on VOD and opens theatrically October 4th. We previously interviewed star Ken Marino.