5 Fun Facts From The Hold The Dark Q&A With Macon Blair
In the twilight of Fantastic Fest, we were fortunate enough to attend a Q&A screening of Hold the Dark with screenwriter Macon Blair in attendance. It was an informative and entertaining post-film discussion filled with stories about the production, the writing process, Blair’s influences, and much much more.
You can listen to the full 27-minute Q&A sesh below, but we went through the trouble of highlighting the most interesting factoids for your reading pleasure; enjoy!
Audience Question: How do you craft the action set pieces for the film?
Macon Blair: The gun battle was a big one. We really wanted to translate the horror and terror of that. On the screen it goes on for 8 minutes or something like that, but on the page it was very very long because I wanted to write out every single moment that someone was struck by what was going on. So, it was kind of a matter of being a little too specific; every single cut, every single impact was written out on the page. I think that’s what Jeremy [Saulnier] responded to, and that’s what was a blueprint for that entire sequence because it was supposed to be very protracted and feel like it was interminable. I think we went overboard with the specifications [for that scene].
It’s not supposed to be fun, and there were a lot of sound queues that were written, like the sound of how the bullets would feel hitting an engine block or something like that. All of that was incorporated because it felt important to put the audience in [Jeffery Wright’s] point of view.
Moderator: For [you and Jeremy], does the young officer survive, or…?
Macon Blair: Absolutely, yeah. That’s why it was important for Core to do something. He got one thing right.
Audience Question: What was your favorite scene, and why?
Macon Blair: My favorite scene is when, inexplicably after the shootout, they’re having a spaghetti dinner and hanging out. [Jeffrey Wright], being the older guy, is sorta giving his wisdom to [the Sheriff and his wife, Susan,] about being new parents. That was [a scene] that was a little bit in the book, but we kinda inflated it a bit more. There were a lot of ideas and feelings about being new parents that went into that scene, and that’s my favorite. I love the performances. I love Susan (played by Savonna Spracklin). Everybody in that [scene] was really warm in a movie that needed some warmth and levity.
Audience Question: Outside of the book, were there any films that you used as a roadmap?
Macon Blair: The Thing in a weird way was one, and No Country for Old Men. When we read the book and wrote up a pitch to see if we could get the [financing] to make this movie, we called it No Country for Cold Men, which was the way that we were trying to think about it; it’s a little fragmented, it doesn’t make a ton of sense, and it’s hopefully compelling. It’s all about tone and character and just hanging out with them, and it doesn’t need to be spelled out in the way that [No Country] was. Because that [film] was successful, we were like, It’s like this one, but with snow… And they bought it!
Audience Question: What were your intentions with the ending?
Macon Blair: For all the awful things [Riley Keough and Alexander Skarsgård’s characters] have done, it’s meant to be a somewhat non-judgmental viewpoint on them. You’re kinda watching them from a perch, and it’s not meant to be forgiving for anything that they did, but it’s just supposed to be — in the same way that Core was a naturalist and a nature writer and he’s talking about animals — sorta like observing people from that same sorta viewpoint that these are just animals who have just carried out this event, and they’ve gone out to the woods to disappear together. We’re not really sure what’s going to happen to them afterwards.
As far as what emotion people were supposed to feel, I don’t know… I think it’s kinda like on one hand certainly a horror because this was a terrible event that’s happened, but on the other hand some sort of understanding or forgiveness of the people because they’re just doing the best that can with these horrible circumstances.
Moderator: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but the [couple’s] relationship is just a tiny bit different from the book that you guys pulled back from?
Macon Blair: It’s meant to be there, but we didn’t spell it out as much as in the book, which is that they’re brother and sister. But that was definitely something we went forward and backward on how much do we reveal. We just sorta let it hang there, and if you catch it, and it resonates with you, that’s cool, but if not, it’s okay too.
Audience Question: What’s a story that you’ve always wanted to tell, whether someone would pay for it or not?
Macon Blair: This is obscure, but I’d love to do a Travis McGee novel. It’s an old 1960s detective book series that I’m a fan of, and they’ve never — well, actually, they have back in the day, but they haven’t recently — made any movies of them. I would love to do that one. He’s kind of like a beach bum that lives on a house boat and solves mysteries. It’s like Magnum P.I., but in Florida.
Moderator: The base is there, that’s something. I mean, Inherent Vice did OK.
Macon Blair: Yeah, it did, didn’t it. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work.
Check out the full Q&A below:
What do you think? Did you learn anything cool? How did you feel about the film? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!