‘Gremlins’ director Joe Dante on puppetry, remake talk [video]

June 14, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
Joe Dante reflects on the process of making "Gremlins" at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival (Anne Cusack/LA Times)

Joe Dante reflects on the process of making “Gremlins” at the Hero Complex Film Festival. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)

While “Gremlins” still has the power to delight audiences 30 years after its release, director Joe Dante said that the experience of making the film was anything but delightful.

Particularly grueling? The days of shooting with just puppets and no human actors.

“Nothing but puppets. A month and a half of just shooting puppets. I just don’t know how Jim Henson lived.”

Dante spoke with Hero Complex’s Gina McIntyre after a screening of the beloved 1984′s film, during the Hero Complex Film Festival, which took place May 30-June 1 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.

Despite the painful memories, he said he still recognizes the importance of what the arduous process brought to the movie. He noted that an advantage of using puppets was that the people manipulating them introduced a human expression into the equation, an increasing rarity in today’s CGI-saturated cinema landscape.

Dante said that if the film was ever going to be remade, which, as he joked, “it’s keeps threatening to be,” this human element would be important to consider.

“The ideal thing would be to use a combination of digital effects and puppetry. There’s something to be said for practical effects on a set.”

Watch the clip above to hear what else Dante had to say about the iconic film and be sure to check out all the other videos from the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival.

– Justin Sullivan | @LATHeroComplex

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